Ex-minister's wife Vicky Pryce reappointed as govt economic adviser

LONDON Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:26am EST

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LONDON Jan 22 (Reuters) - Economist Vicky Pryce, who was jailed for lying to police over speeding points received by her ex-minister husband Chris Huhne, has returned to a role advising the British government, a departmental spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Pryce has rejoined a panel of economists within the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills that meets three times as year to advise Business Secretary Vince Cable.

A department spokeswoman said Pryce was appointed to the panel monitoring the economy over 10 years ago when she was chief economist at the then Department of Trade and Industry but her membership had been on hold.

"She has now resumed her unpaid position as part of this panel after serving her sentence, which in no way brought into question her ability or judgment as an economist," the spokeswoman said.

Pryce, 62, is a prominent economist who co-led the government's economic service before moving to the private sector in 2010 to avoid any potential conflict of interest when Huhne, her then husband, was appointed energy secretary.

But shortly afterwards, their 26-year marriage ended when Huhne left her for his mistress and Pryce exposed to the media that she lied to police in 2003 to take the blame for a speeding offence to avoid her husband being banned from driving.

The scandal forced Huhne to resign in February 2012 and both he and Pryce were charged with perverting the course of justice.

Huhne spent the best part of a year fighting a costly legal battle, trying to get the charge against him thrown out, but was eventually found guilty and sentenced to eight months in jail.

Pryce admitted taking Huhne's speeding penalty but put forward an archaic defence of "marital coercion", arguing that Huhne had bullied her into it. She was also found guilty and received an eight-month jail sentence. Pryce was also stripped of an honour bestowed on her by Queen Elizabeth.

Both Huhne and Pryce were released from prison on May 13 last year after serving two months of their sentences.

Pryce could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. While in jail she wrote a book "Prisonomics" about her experiences in prison and the economic cost of imprisoning women.

Huhne last August took up a senior job at U.S. renewable energy firm Zilkha Biomass Energy.

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