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article imageOp-Ed: The rise and fall of Constance Briscoe

By Alexander Baron     Feb 1, 2014 in Crime
Southwark - Constance Briscoe was once a high flying lawyer. Now her professional career is in tatters, even though a jury failed to convict her of perverting the course of justice.
A certain American politician used to introduce himself with the words "I used to be the next President of the United States".
Constance Briscoe's professional epitaph will be "I used to be the first black woman appointed a High Court Judge". Unlike Mr Gore, she didn't lose in a fair fight, but in an incredibly dirty one, and although it was a fight in which she had no real stake, it is one she must of needs play out to the bitter end.
The sad story of how even the high and mighty can be brought down by the smallest, most ludicrous and grubby of conspiracies was thoroughly documented last year. Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce were sentenced in March, when Miss Briscoe was also in the spotlight, for assisting Miss Pryce in engineering the downfall of her ex-husband, a downfall that ultimately put their own heads on the block as well as his.
Miss Briscoe is not only a high achiever but a tough talker, especially when she is talking about those lower down the food chain than herself - which is most of us.
She wasn't quite so tough during her trial though when she burst into tears saying she couldn't understand why she had been arrested in 2012. This was after she had used the witness box as a platform to tarnish Mr Huhne, this time by making allegations about his sexuality, including the claim that he is or was a closet homosexual, or at the very least had engaged in these practices when he was younger. These allegations have never been raised before, including at the trial of Miss Pryce, so there is no reason to credit them here. Especially as at the time he left his wife he was having it off with PR adviser Carina Trimingham!
She claimed too, in effect, that Mr Huhne was beaten up by his wife over this; the lady herself admits to being a fiery Greek, but if she ever did strike him for whatever reason, he appears to have shown considerable restraint.
Perhaps the most enchanting claim made by Miss Briscoe during her trial was that the police who investigated this case "'completely reversed' the meaning of her statement about the Chris Huhne speeding points case by inserting extra words that she did not notice when she was arrested". Police officers dishonest? Perish the thought!
Perhaps deciding it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, the jury deliberated for 13 hours before being discharged by Mr Justice Nicol after failing to reach a verdict. A retrial has been ordered, provisionally for May 1.
Prior to this case, all reference to Miss Briscoe in the media had been at worse neutral, and at best, glowing. She first hit the headlines with her book Ugly, which saw her being sued unsuccessfully for libel - by her own mother!
In October 2006, the Times reported her close encounter with Death, a bloke named Lee Death to be precise. This was actually a ludicrous case of the much abused harassment law, but it contributed to the growing Briscoe legend.
The following year, the same paper reported that she had recently flown to New York for a private operation, which set her back $23,400. Nice work if you can get it.
Constance Briscoe became Constance Briscoe acclaimed author. Although not a QC, she has been a recorder since 1996. Correction, had been a recorder.
Even if she is cleared at her retrial - and on this performance, she may well be - she can kiss goodbye to sitting as a judge ever again, and a High Court Judge - forget it! She may though still find some lucrative work at the Bar, but she will never be a QC either.
Of the three parties involved in this sorry tale, Miss Briscoe although the minor player, appears to have come off worse by far. Chris Huhne is a wealthy man, so may decide to retire, certainly after penning a polemic against David Cameron's fracking plans in the Guardian recently, he can forget any role in politics in future except as an occasional pundit. His estranged wife has done very well. After publishing a book about women in prison - who are there only because of men! - she has been co-opted by Vince Cable as an (initially unpaid) economic adviser. We shouldn't be too surprised because an economist is no more a real job than an astrologer. Miss Briscoe on the other hand will of needs have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law, and it really is a shame that this now seems set to go to waste.
Finally, due to her conspiring against Mr Huhne, she has lost his friendship, and from the things she said about Miss Pryce in the witness box, it is doubtful if the two will be taking morning coffee together in the future, but for that small mercy Miss Briscoe should be grateful, because fiery Greek Miss Pryce is a friend any high flying lawyer can do without.
Judge Constance Briscoe leaves Southwark Crown Court in London January 31  2014. The jury for Brisco...
Judge Constance Briscoe leaves Southwark Crown Court in London January 31, 2014. The jury for Briscoe's trial was discharged after failing to decide if she perverted the course of justice in relation with the speeding case of former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne
With permission by Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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