Fallen UK minister, ex-wife jailed in revenge 'tragedy'

LONDON (AFP) - Disgraced former British energy minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife were jailed on Monday after a bitter saga of revenge that began with a driving offence and ended in adultery and the destruction of his political career.

A judge said that "any element of tragedy is entirely your own fault" as he sentenced Huhne, a Liberal Democrat party leadership contender, and Vicky Pryce to eight months imprisonment each for perverting the course of justice.

Greek-born senior economist Pryce agreed in 2003 to take penalty points on her driving licence that Huhne had incurred for speeding, in a bid to help her then-husband avoid a driving ban.

The crime would have gone undetected had Pryce not embarked on a quest for vengeance eight years later after he left her for a bisexual female election campaign aide.

Sentencing the pair at Southwark Crown Court in London a decade to the day after the offence, judge Nigel Sweeney told Huhne, 58, he had "fallen from a great height".

Huhne pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and the judge said he had reduced his sentence by 10 per cent for that.

Pryce, 60, pleaded not guilty using the defence of marital coercion but was found guilty by a jury last week. An earlier trial had failed to reach a verdict.

The judge said Pryce had "an implacable desire for revenge", adding that her not guilty plea showed she had a "controlling, manipulative and devious side".

"You have both been brought to justice for your joint offence. Any element of tragedy is entirely your own fault," he said.

The shamed former couple were side-by-side in the dock as they were sentenced.

Neither showed any emotion and apart from a brief glance from Huhne towards his ex-wife they made no contact with each other before they were taken down to start their jail terms.

Both will likely only serve four months behind bars.