Fallen British minister's ex-wife faces retrial

The jury in the trial of disgraced British energy minister Chris Huhne's ex-wife was discharged Wednesday after failing to reach a verdict over the circumstances in which she took his speeding points.

The jury of eight women and four men was discharged at Southwark Crown Court in London after telling trial judge Nigel Sweeney it was "highly unlikely" that even a majority verdict would be reached.

The political career of Huhne, 58, a leading light in the governing coalition's junior Liberal Democrat party, is in tatters after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to perverting the course of justice.

His ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, 60, a Greek-born economist, denied the same charge, claiming Huhne had coerced her into taking his speeding points on her driving licence.

The charges relate to an incident in March 2003 when Huhne's car was caught by a speed camera as it travelled between Stansted Airport near London and the capital.

A retrial is expected to start on Monday, the court heard.

Huhne will not be sentenced until after the retrial.

The former cabinet minister, who resigned from parliament upon pleading guilty, could face a prison sentence.

A by-election is being held on February 28 in Huhne's old Eastleigh constituency in southern England.