A barrister and part-time judge embroiled in former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne’s speeding points scandal deliberately gave the wrong statement to an expert to back up her claims, a court has heard.
Constance Briscoe, who trained in the North East, gave the handwriting and document expert a copy of a witness statement under “false pretences” so his findings would be in her favour, it is alleged.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Briscoe, who is charged with trying to pervert the course of justice in connection with the investigation into former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne’s speeding points, is accused of deliberately altering a witness statement she had given to police as she tried to avoid her own lies being exposed.
As she herself fell under suspicion of misleading police about her own involvement in exposing the points-swapping incident, the barrister allegedly gave a different version to the expert so he would find the alteration was a printer malfunction.
It was only when a second expert examined the statement that it was found to be a different version.
Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC told jurors: “We suggest that in the end, sadly, you may come to the conclusion that it was a hopeless and desperate attempt by this defendant to try to pull the wool over, as it happens, your eyes, because this was an expert report designed to be used in this trial had it not been false.”
At the start of the case yesterday, the court heard that Briscoe - a barrister with “dozens of years’ experience” - was intent on bringing about Huhne’s downfall, and knew how to manipulate the criminal justice system to her advantage.
Opening the case, Miss Cheema told jurors that Briscoe, who studied at Newcastle University, was prepared to present a false picture of herself, her relationship with Mr Huhne’s former wife Vicky Pryce and with journalists; to alter a statement given to police; and did not baulk at getting expert evidence based on a lie.
The 56-year-old, who has been suspended since her arrest in October 2012, denies three counts of intending to pervert the course of public justice.
The first alleges that, between May 16 2011, and October 6 2012, she provided police with two inaccurate statements, and the second that on October 6 2012 she produced an altered copy of a statement, but claimed it was the correct version.
A third charge alleges that between October 5 2012 and October 8 2013 she deliberately got the document expert to view the wrong version of her witness statement.
The court has heard that Briscoe had helped economist Pryce, who was a friend and also her neighbour, to reveal information about the points-swapping scandal to newspapers after she and Huhne separated in 2010.
Chris Huhne pleaded guilty in February last year, while Pryce was convicted after a trial.
In October 2013, Briscoe’s legal team provided the report on the alteration, made by expert Maurice Rode, which found the extra “I” in the statement was an “extraneous artefact”, possibly from a printer malfunction, and not an alteration or addition.
The case, at Southwark Crown Court, continues.