Vicky Pryce at Chatham House in 2012
8 August 1952
Vasiliki Pryce (born 1952), née Vasiliki Kourmouzi (Greek: Βασιλική Κουρμούζη), known as Vicky Pryce, is a Greek-born economist, and former Joint Head of the United Kingdom's Government Economic Service. On 7 March 2013, Pryce and her former husband, MP Chris Huhne, were convicted of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to eight months in prison.
After university she had according to Ned Temko a "glittering career" as an economist and then chief economist at Williams & Glyn's Bank (now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland) from 1973 to 1983; as chief economist at Peat Marwick McLintock and KPMG from 1986 to 2001; and corporate economist for Exxon Europe from 1983 to 1986. When having a child, she took six weeks off for each one. She left KPMG at Blackfriars in late 2001, and worked for the London Economics consultancy.
Department of Trade and Industry
Pryce joined the Department for Trade and Industry in August 2002 as Chief Economic Adviser, the first woman to be appointed to the post, for which the salary was about £110,000. She was also Chairman of the GoodCorporation, an organisation promoting ethical business practices.
She was Deputy Head of the Government's Economic Service from 2004 to 2007, and Joint Head from 2007 to 2010. She was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2009, but was removed from the Order of the Bath register and stripped of the honour following her conviction in 2013.
In April 2010, it was announced that she would be leaving the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills where she was Director General, Economics, and Joint Head of the Government Economic Service, to become senior managing director at the finance consultancy firm FTI Consulting.
She has been a visiting professor at City University's Cass Business School from 2002 to 2006 and from 2008 to 2011, and at Imperial College Business School since 2010; a visiting Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford since 2008; a Fellow of the Society of Business Economists since 2005, and has sat on the Council of the University of Kent since 2005 and the council of the Royal Society for the Arts from 2008 to 2009. She was a Member of the Council of the Royal Economic Society (REconS) from 2002 to 2007.
In October 2012, Biteback Publishing brought out her book Greekonomics, a discussion of the crises in the eurozone, with the focus especially as the title indicates on the country of her birth. This book was intended for a broad, not merely an academic, audience. It paints a vivid picture of what a Greek exit from the eurozone might mean:
"A serious possibility of exit -- and how could it be kept completely secret? -- would lead to a full-scale run on the banks. Clearly any country wishing to exit the eurozone would have to nationalize or take temporary control of the banks and reintroduce controls on the movement of capital. The government would also need to reintroduce stringent border controls to stop people leaving the country with euro notes and coins in their luggage or in their underwear! In countries like Greece, where taking to the streets is part of the political way of life, the population would probably react by attempting to physically remove their savings, breaking into the banks -- and then for good measure attacking Parliament. So in Greece a euro exit could easily end with troops on the streets and martial law -- just the circumstances that joining the EU was meant to prevent."
In early July 2013 Vicky Pryce appeared as an expert witness before the House of Lords cross-party subcommittee on economic and financial affairs, saying she saw no quick end to the eurozone crisis since structural reform will take a long time. Pryce favours fiscal policy that includes stimulus package and wants the European Central Bank to buy bonds.
In 1972 she married David Pryce, an LSE post-graduate student, whom she divorced in 1981, having had two daughters with him.
In 1984, she married Chris Huhne, who later became an MEP and then the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. They had three children together. They divorced in January 2011.
Conviction for perverting the course of justice
Pryce was interviewed twice by Essex Police in 2011 over allegations that, in 2003, she had accepted driving licence penalty points actually incurred by her husband, Chris Huhne (then an MEP) and in 2012 it was announced that both Pryce and Huhne would be charged with perverting the course of justice. Pryce entered a plea of not guilty, advancing a defence of marital coercion at trial. In March 2013, she was convicted of perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to eight months in prison, the same as Huhne.
She initially started serving her sentence in HM Prison Holloway. The day following the conviction, Conservative MP David Burrowes wrote to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, asking him to exercise his power of referral to the Court of Appeal, as in Burrowes' view the sentences were too lenient. Grieve had until 8 April, 28 days after the original sentence, to decide whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal, which has the power to either increase the sentences or leave them the same. After four days' prisoner assessment, Pryce was moved to HM Prison East Sutton Park, an open prison near Maidstone, Kent. As a result of her conviction, she was stripped of her CB.
Pryce and Huhne were both released from prison on 13 May 2013, subject to electronic tagging. Pryce has published a book based on her prison experience in October 2013. The book, Prisonomics, analyzes the economic and human costs of imprisoning women. Royalties will be donated to Working Chance, a charity helping former women prisoners find work.
Sir Nicholas Stern
|Head of the Government Economic Service
with Dave Ramsden
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- Prisonomics by Vicky Pryce – review
- Prisonomics: Behind bars in Britain's failing prisons