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UK's prominent black judge, Constance Briscoe arrested

2013-02-26 21:09:40

Constance Briscoe

Britain's most prominent black judge, Constance Briscoe, has been arrested on suspicion of lying to police about her part in exposing Chris Huhne's speeding points scam, it can be revealed today.

Ms Briscoe, 55, regularly briefed journalists over several months about how Huhne, 58, had forced his former wife, Vicky Pryce, 60, to take his penalty points so he would not lose his driving licence, it is alleged.

The high-profile lawyer was interviewed by Kent Police last year over allegations that she lied in a witness statement when she said she had not spoken to the media about the episode.

A statement from a police officer read to the jury at Miss Pryce's retrial today set out the fact that Miss Briscoe was not being called as a prosecution witness because she could not be relied upon as a "witness of truth".

She has not been charged but remains on police bail.

Until now the media has been banned from reporting Miss Briscoe's involvement in the Huhne case, or the reason she was arrested, because of a series of strict reporting restrictions issued by the courts.

The prosecution at Southwark Crown Court has told the jury trying Miss Pryce that Miss Briscoe briefed a Sunday newspaper in 2010 and 2011 about Miss Pryce taking speeding points for Huhne in 2003 to help him avoid a driving ban.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC today read jurors a statement from Detective Inspector Martin Passmore explaining why certain people had not been called as witnesses in the case.

It said: "Ms Briscoe has provided statements to the police in this case but during the investigation it became apparent that she may have lied about her involvement with the press and that she denied having any contact with the Mail on Sunday or any other media organisation in relation to this story.

"Ms Pryce has not been arrested or interviewed in relation to that allegation. For this reason Ms Briscoe has been arrested and is currently under investigation by the police.

"Ms Briscoe could therefore no longer be relied upon as a witness of truth and on October 2, 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service took the decision not to call Ms Briscoe to give evidence in the case."

Miss Briscoe, one of the first black women to sit as a judge in Britain, lives a few doors down from Pryce and Huhne's marital home in Clapham, south London and has been friends with them for many years.

Pryce told her in 2003 that the former Lib-Dem cabinet minister was forcing her to take his penalty points after he was caught speeding on the M11 in Essex.

Seven years later, after Huhne and Pryce's marriage broke down over the politician's affair with his PR adviser Carina Trimingham, the judge allegedly played an active part in attempts to leak the speeding points incident to newspapers, the trial heard.

Miss Briscoe, who grew up in south London, studied law at Newcastle and was called to the Bar in 1983. She worked as a criminal lawyer before being appointed a crown court recorder in 1996. She has worked as a specialist rape prosecutor and is a barrister at 9-12 Bell Yard chambers and in 2006 she published an autobiography called Ugly.

Miss Briscoe declined to comment about her arrest when contacted by the Daily Telegraph.

Miss Pryce denies a charge of perverting the course of justice. Huhne pleaded guilty to the same offence earlier this month.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

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