Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce have each been jailed for eight months for lying about a speeding offence committed a decade ago.
A judge told the former Cabinet minister and his ex-wife that they were "acting together" in deciding to pervert the course of justice when she agreed to take his speeding points.
Mr Justice Sweeney told the pair that any element of tragedy "is entirely your own fault" as he sentenced them both in turn in front of a packed courtroom at London's Southwark Crown Court.
The pair sat next to each other in the dock but did not look at each other and remained passive as first Huhne and then Pryce learned their fates.
The judge told Huhne he had "fallen from a great height" but had only reached such heights in his career through his deception.
Pryce, he said, had shown a "controlling, manipulative and devious" side to her character by pleading not guilty.
Huhne apologised in comments published shortly after the sentencing.
He told the Guardian: "I am sorry. I want to say that to family, to friends, to constituents and to colleagues, and more broadly to everybody who cares passionately about the causes I care about, including saving the planet for our children and our grandchildren."
He also defended himself against claims that he was a bully - claims made by Pryce during her trial.
He said: "Anyone who knows me knows I am not a bully and that I don't bully people. My reputation is not that.
"It is true I may be prepared to say harsh things to people who are my own size or bigger than me. But I am very proud that I am not the kind of person that behaves like that to anyone who is not in a position to respond."
Huhne added that he hoped to "heal" relationships with his children, which have been damaged by the scandal.
"I feel awful that so many people I love have been dragged into this. It has been a gruelling experience for all of them to be subject to this media harassment and intrusion. They need time and space to get over this," he said.
"I am at least hopeful that the relationships with my children that suffered most at the time of the breakup and divorce can be slowly healed, and some of them are slowly healing. That, for me, is the most encouraging thing that can come out of all this."
The sentencing of the 58-year-old former Cabinet minister and Pryce, 60, a top economist and mother of his three children, completes a drama started by his infidelity.
His girlfriend Carina Trimingham - who he left Pryce for back in 2010 - watched from the public gallery as the jail terms were announced.
Huhne and Pryce had been forced to run the gauntlet through a huge media scrum as they arrived separately for the hearing.
Pryce clutched a small, black suitcase and was bizarrely handed a single rose by a bystander as she made her way inside. She kept the flower with her in the dock, where it could be seen sticking out of her handbag.
Huhne, accompanied by Ms Trimingham in a bright red coat, also had an overnight bag in preparation.
The politician had battled for months to have the case thrown out but finally admitted his guilt just as the joint trial was due to start last month.
Pryce claimed Huhne had forced her to take the points and went on to be tried alone but she was convicted after a retrial last week.
During the case, it emerged she had tipped off the press about the deception in the wake of their split in order to "nail" Huhne and ruin his career.
The wreckage of their marriage was laid bare in court, and bitter text messages between Huhne and his youngest son Peter were also revealed.
In her evidence, Pryce claimed the politician had forced her to have an abortion in the 90s and tried to again when she later became pregnant with Peter.
Huhne, once tipped as a future Lib Dem leader, follows other fallen politicians, including Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer, in being sent to jail.
The court heard on Monday that prosecutors had spent £79,015 on Huhne's case, more than double the £37,544 that went on fighting Pryce's.
Speaking outside Southwark Crown Court, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, head of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "I think this case acts as a very timely reminder for all those people who may be facing a driving ban and are thinking of passing their points on to others.
"It is not only unlawful but as you can see from today's events it leads to life-changing consequences."
Prime Minister David Cameron said of the outcome: "It's a reminder that no one, however high and mighty, is out of the reach of the justice system."
The Liberal Democrats said that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg regards the situation as "a personal tragedy for Chris, Vicky and their families".