Queen strips British minister's jailed ex-wife of honour

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has removed a government honour awarded to the ex-wife of a former minister after the disgraced pair were jailed for swapping speeding points, officials said on Tuesday.

Vicky Pryce and her ex-husband, the former energy minister Chris Huhne were released from prison in May after serving a quarter of their eight month sentences for perverting the course of justice.

Pryce, a Greek-born 60-year-old economist, had in 2009 been made a Companion of the Order of the Bath, one of the highest honours in Britain, for her work as head of the government economic service.

But the government's forfeiture committee, which looks at whether to strip people of their honours in exceptional circumstances, recommended that the award be taken away from Pryce.

"The Queen has directed that the appointment of Vicky, Mrs Pryce, to be a Member of the Civil Division of the Third Class, or Companion, of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, dated June 13 2009, shall be cancelled and annulled and that her name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order," an official announcement said.

The Order of the Bath has its origin in medieval times - its name coming from the ritual washing that formed part of the preparations for receiving a knighthood - but is now mainly awarded to military officers and civil servants.

Britain's political class was gripped by the spectacular fall of Huhne and Pryce, a tale of adultery, marital breakdown and vengeance played out in the courtroom in lurid detail.

Pryce had taken penalty points on her driving licence in 2003 so that her then husband could avoid a driving ban.

She revealed the points swap in 2011 in a bid to get revenge at Huhne - who once ran for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, junior partners in Britain's coalition government - after he left her for his publicist.

But the plan backfired and resulted in her being jailed herself after being found guilty in a retrial in March.

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