He was earmarked as a possible future leader of the Liberal Democrats, but yesterday Chris Huhne’s political career was left in tatters. He pleaded guilty in court to a charge of perverting the course of justice, and faces a prison term when sentencing is passed.
The charge over which Huhne has admitted to lying about is one of swapping points with his now ex-wife Vicky Pryce to avoid losing his driving license in 2003. In 2011, when his affair with his PR advisor Carina Trimingham became public knowledge, his wife took the points swapping story to the newspapers in what she has admitted in court was an act of revenge for his leaving their 26 year marriage. A formal complaint to the Police was made by Labour MP Simon Danczuk that in 2003 Chris Huhne had asked Vicky Pryce to take 3 points on her driving license for speeding so that he would avoid getting the points on his own license which would have led to his losing his driving license.
Although Huhne denied the allegations, he stepped down from his position as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the coalition Government. In the ensuing investigation conducted by Essex Police, Huhne denied the allegation. But, in a dramatic turn of events yesterday on the first day of the trial, he admitted that he had indeed asked his wife to take the penalty points, and had lied to the Police in the ensuing investigation.
Perverting the course of justice (i.e. lying to the Police during an investigation) is a serious crime, and will certainly lead to a custodial sentence for this ex-cabinet Minister. Although a sentence of up to life may be given, the most likely sentence is one of about 10 months. Huhne has already announced that he will step down from his Parliamentary seat. It is difficult to see how he can recover his political career after this.
One of the sadder things to emerge from this sorry affair were some private texts between Huhne and his teenage son Peter. It is probably his son’s threat to expose Huhne’s lying to the Police that led Huhne to change his plea to guilty in court yesterday. It seems that since Huhne left his ex-wife that his relationship with his son has become estranged, with the son sadly telling Huhne that he hates him and despises him. Although I feel sorry for Huhne’s career being destroyed by this lying, what I feel most sorry for is the breakdown of his relationship with his son. Although it seems impossible that he will be able to resurrect his political career, I sincerely hope he is able to mend his relationship with his son.