Sentencing has now been passed on Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne arising out of the point taking debacle,They have each been sentenced to eight months each in prison.
The country appears to be divided roughly equally between those that say that she was right to expose Mr Huhne’s wrong doing and those that feel that silence would have been golden in the circumstances of the matter given the spectacular fall out that has now occurred.
As a divorce lawyer who often sees the massive repercussions of displaced anger, the Pryce/Huhne reveals many many different facets some of which have been exposed in the Press and others which appear to have remained unnoticed. What most media coverage has focused upon is the act of vengeance on the part of Vicky Pryce with women the most critical of her actions. Epithets have been hurled about the media such as “hell has no fury”, “spectacular Greek tragedy”, “revenge is a dish best served cold” etc. However, it seems that the majority of the media were delighted to focus on a woman’s uncontrolled anger in the absence of all else. There is no doubt that Vicky Pryce was in white hot anger mode when she inadvisably spoke a Times reporter about this matyer. She chose to overlook the passing words of the journalist that she could get into trouble if she went public with the allegations. All too often women at this stage of anger having been deceived , let down, or undermined, will seek revenge.
It is however vital that those around them whether it is their children, their friends or more importantly their lawyer reign them in to common sense. Left unabated, many women in this white hot stage will report their husbands to the Revenue thereby causing an enquiring which will rebound on the entire family. Others will seek to destroy their husband’s career in one form or the other, some by reporting their husbands to their employers about relationships with others in the firm or inappropriate activities at work. Either way the repercussion is to lose both them and their family their financial support. Other times the fury will spill over into destroying physical assets such as cars, paintings or valuable antiques simply to exact momentary revenge. The courts will always penalise a woman or indeed a man who has acted in this way so that the transient delight at causing this kind of damage will undoubtedly rebound in some financial punishment. In some cases they are prosecuted for criminal damage and may themselves lose their own jobs.
The other more important issue in my view that has not directly been reported on because it had been hidden by the ill-advised defence of marital coercion is the number of women who do without question sign documents put before them by their husbands. In many many cases in which I have acted over the last thirty three years, there is one or other element of this contained in the paperwork. Either a wife who is a joint owner of a property signs away their interest without realising that they have done so. This is despite the fact that they may have been taken to a solicitors office to be advised of the effect of what they are doing. Some describe how due to their husband’s presence, they simply just agree to what was required of them out of blind love, loyalty and/or in the belief that if they did not so the family would suffer as a consequence. Others have ensured that their wives have signed away their shareholdings in companies or interests in properties or family trusts. These are not simply women without intelligence, on the contrary, there seems to be a huge swathe of high flying intelligent women who have simply accepted what has been told to them by their husbands without question. Many describe the same set of circumstances, that they trusted their husbands, that they believed their husbands were undertaking activities for the benefit of the family. Many are totally devastated to discover that as far back as the inception of their marriage, there had been some kind of deception or lies on the part of their husbands.
What is vital at this stage and in view of what occurred in the Vicky Pryce case is to bring to public attention the fact that this is still occurring notwithstanding that we are supposed to be in an age of equality, intelligence, understanding and women’s rights. If one good factor can come out of the Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne case it is bringing to public notice the fact that women really must be better advised to be cautious about signing documents that are before them by their husbands.
Whilst I do not entirely accept that the criminal defence of marital coercion should remain in its current form, I do believe that in family cases and family cases by the time the matter come before the Court it is far too late to do anything about it. They say that knowledge is power and I do sincerely hope that simply by reading this article many women will be empowered not to fall into this unnecessary and devastating trap in the future.