Chris Huhne: the straight talking fighter faces his biggest battle

It was in May 2011 that the allegation first surfaced that, eight years previously, Chris Huhne had allegedly asked his then wife Vicky Pryce to take the rap for speeding points that would have seen the aspirant Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh lose his licence. It’s a charge Chris has strenuously denied ever since, always saying he welcomes the police investigation as a chance to clear his name. When asked whether he would resign, he has previously only ever had to answer hypothetically, as here when questioned by Andrew Neil:


(Available on YouTube here.)

But now reality has struck. Though Chris was able to retain his cabinet post while the police investigated the claims (as Tim Farron rather neatly put it, ‘Tony Blair remained prime minister while he was investigated, I imagine Chris Huhne can just about cope with being energy secretary’) it was always clear that in the event of formal charges being laid his tenure as secretary of state for energy and climate change would be terminated. Nick Clegg made clear his own view on BBC1 last Sunday:

“Of course, that is a very serious issue if that were to arise. We as a Government want the highest standards of probity to be in place in everything that is done by Cabinet members.”

Nick and Chris contested the leadership of the party following Ming Campbell’s resignation in 2007. Despite a rather bruising campaign — probably best-remembered for the ‘Calamity Clegg’ jibe made by one of Chris’s team — the two later formed en effective working relationship, with Chris key member of the Lib Dem negotiating team which produced the Coalition programme with substantial chunks of the party’s election manifesto incorporated. It was no coincidence that one of the most detailed policy areas was the environment, a long-term passion of Chris’s, which saw him identified as being on the social liberal / centre-left of the party; yet on the economy, he was a Lib Dem fiscal hawk, trenchant in his support for deficit reduction.

Never one to avoid a fight, there was frequent friction between Chris and his Conservative cabinet colleagues. For example, he controversially attacked Tory chairman Baroness Warsi during the AV referendum for mounting an “increasingly Goebbels-like campaign”, spoke out in cabinet against the Tory tactics of personally targeting Nick Clegg (much to its co-author George Osborne’s annoyance), and took David Cameron to task for his ‘veto’ in December’s European summit. For some this smacked of betrayal. Personally I admired Chris’s willingness to say what he thought without resorting to the more common Westminster practices of unattributable briefings. Not that he lacks sharp elbows when they’re needed, a rare trait in Lib Dems which will be missed by (most of) his colleagues.

Chris will soon face the charges that have dogged him for so long; the rest of his political career will now depend on whether he can disprove them.

There will be few major implications for the Coalition of Chris’s resignation. For all the media excitement today, Cameron and Clegg have had plenty of time to prepare for today’s reshuffle. There may be bigger implications for the Coalition’s environment policies — Chris was a big hitter who achieved a huge amount in a short period of time: will his successor be able to continue Chris’s assertive work? An important first decision will be whether to retain Chris’s influential and knowledgeable special advisors, Duncan Brack and Joel Kenrick (a reminder that resignations have a human impact that extends well beyond the minister alone). Both were drafted in by Chris on his appointment to the climate change and energy post; it’s to be hoped they are allowed to continue in their roles.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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55 Comments

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 1:05pm

    the rest of his political career will now depend on whether he can disprove them

    Sorry, but that’s just plain wrong. He doesn’t have to prove anything; that is up to the prosecutor.

    One’s guilt must be proven, not one’s innocence.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 1:11pm

    I do hope his Lib Dem replacement will prove to be just as imposing a political bruiser. George Osborne – and various other Conservatives – will try their damnedest to water down any commitment to a rapid transformation to a carbon free energy system. And come the General Election in 2015, GO will attempt to do the dirt on his erstwhile Lib Dem colleagues, just as he did during the AV campaign. Chris Huhne will be sorely missed, unless his successor proves to be just as bloodyminded at taking the fight to the Conservatives.

  • One’s guilt must be proven, not one’s innocence.

    First of all, Stephen referred to Huhne’s “political career”… it aint as Jeremy Thorpe came out unscathed.

    Secondly, the presumption of innocence does not mean innocent with no possibility of guilt.

    ~alec

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 1:35pm

    @Alec

    I haven’t a clue what you are trying to say by “the presumption of innocence does not mean innocent with no possibility of guilt”. The law in England and Wales is clear: a jury must only convict if guilt has been shown beyond reasonable doubt.

  • I haven’t a clue what you are trying to say by “the presumption of innocence does not mean innocent with no possibility of guilt”.

    I am sure you do.

    The law in England and Wales is clear: a jury must only convict if guilt has been shown beyond reasonable doubt.

    And? That aint what is being discussed here, with the insouciance being displayed by you and others is striking. It almost is as if you think this is an insignificant speeding offence, and not allegations of perjury. Any mere pleb under investigation for summat which went to the quick of the probitiy of their respective jobs (and a perjury jolly well does go to the quick of Government ministerial positions, let alone the backbenchers) would not have been able to hang-on by playing dumb for almost a year.

    So you are sorry to see Huhne go ‘cos you agree with his politics. You’re making exactly the same excuses as Labour did in the early years, by habitually referring to the Major Government after which they ceased caring (see, for instance, Baroness Scotland breaking the very immigration and employment laws she helped implement).

    ~alec

  • ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ applies to his legal situation but not his political career- seeing as he has already resigned that should be obvious.

  • @Paul M.
    The formal presumption of innocence does not mean that the person isn’t necessarily guilty. A prisoner on remand is presumed innocent but is still detained pending a trial if there is considered to be considerable evidence of that person’s guilt and he/she is dangerous even if the evidence is yet to be formally tested. A presumption of innocence doesn’t always imply “business as usual” for the accused.

    Chris Huhne is entitled to a formal presumption of innocence although its quite right that he has stepped down from his post as a minister. He should, though I doubt he will, also refrain from voting on new laws. Perverting the course of justice is an extremely serious charge and, in other fields, when someone is faced with serious charges they are often suspended from their jobs. For example, a doctor charged of selling medicines would necessarily lose the abiltiy to prescribe drugs until a trial has taken place, even though that doctor is formally presumed innocent ahead of the trial.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 1:58pm

    @Alec

    “I am sure you do.”

    Oh for Pete’s sake. Are you always this unpleasant, accusing others of insincerity when attempting to establish meaning from an obscure formulation?

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 2:01pm

    “It almost is as if you think this is an insignificant speeding offence, and not allegations of perjury. Any mere pleb under investigation for summat which went to the quick of the probitiy of their respective jobs (and a perjury jolly well does go to the quick of Government ministerial positions, let alone the backbenchers) would not have been able to hang-on by playing dumb for almost a year.”

    I haven’t said any of that: you are putting words in mouth, words that I actually disagree with.

  • Paul, the presumption of innocence is that we all have the right to representation, transparency from those investigating us, the expectation not to be incarcerated on a whim or for prolonged period without charges being brought against us.

    It is not a guarantee of specific employment, or even expectation that we shouldn’t be incarcerated for a finite and reasonable period (see being held on remand).

    ~alec

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 2:04pm

    @Dave M

    I agree with all of that, indeed how would it be possible to disagree with the idea that some people who maintain innocence before a court will later be found guilty? It doesn’t, however, deal with the point that I made, which is that a defendant does not have to prove his innocence or disprove his guilt. Proof is the requirement of prosecution.

  • <blockquote)I haven’t said any of that:

    You’re correct. You have, however, reached for the Innocent Until Proven guilty card in response to an entirely distinct statement from Stephen.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 2:10pm

    “the presumption of innocence is that we all have the right to representation, transparency from those investigating us, the expectation not to be incarcerated on a whim or for prolonged period without charges being brought against us.”

    The presumption of innocence has nothing to do with any of that. It is a formal doctrine that places the burden of proof on the prosecution. One must be proved guilty to be convicted, one need not prove oneself innocent to be acquitted.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Feb '12 - 2:11pm

    @Alec

    “You’re correct.”

    Thank you.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Feb '12 - 2:17pm

    “Chris Huhne: the straight talking fighter”

    Isn’t this hoo hah all because of “Vicky Pryce the straight talking fighter?” The CPS appear to believe so. Their guidelines say that they should not proceed with any charges unless they believe (a) prosecution is in the public interest and (b) there is more than a 50 per cent likelihood of securing a prosecution.

  • The presumption of innocence has nothing to do with any of that. It is a formal doctrine that places the burden of proof on the prosecution.

    Okay, now it’s my turn to be lost… in what way does this contract or is mutually exclusive from what I said?

    The bottom line is, even if charges are dropped or Huhne is acquitted, his “political career” almost certainly is toast. People are sacked or have difficulties gaining future employment without criminal charges even being mentioned all the time.

    Mentioning presumption of innocence is, in this context, at best a non-point; at worst, distractionary.

    ~alec

  • Huhne is dead politics-wise – he cannot come out of this well whatever happens.

    There have been too many allegations, revelations and suggestions about how he operates his life in and out of governemnt for him to get anywhere.

    I expect he will retire before or be defeated at the next election – to the glee of most of the torries and I suspect most grass routes Lib Dems too

  • Oops – grass roots I mean

  • I think it’s right that he’s stepped down, but I think that because I accept that senior politicians have to be held to higher standard of accountability than most people (doctors excluded for obvious reasons!). But I dispute the claims of some commenters that he has somehow received preferential treatment to a non-minister. In a normal office job someone facing criminal charges would not be forced to resign. In fact, to be honest, Liam Fox wouldn’t have been forced to resign in a normal job either. I don’t have a problem with this, in fact I think it’s right that ministers have to be held more accountable than your average Jo. But I wish some people would stop looking down their noses at politicians while simultaneously holding them to a higher standard. Not to reopen the whole expenses can-of-worms, but that was another classic example of public hypocrisy.

    “There have been too many allegations, revelations and suggestions about how he operates his life in and out of governemnt for him to get anywhere.”

    Like Mandelson you mean? :)

    Seriously, I don’t think his political career is toast unless he’s convicted. I don’t actually like the man, in fact I find him to be a ruthless, devious, often personally unpleasant political operator. BUT he has also been an incredibly effective minister. He and Michael Gove are probably the two most effective members of cabinet in the current government. The difference is that I dislike most of what Gove is implementing, so I’m not happy about his effectiveness. Conversely, I support what Chris was pushing through, so I lament his loss not for his personal charm (!) but for the loss of an efficient and heavy-hitting Liberal Democrat.

    I’m confident that if he’s found not guilty he can return to front line politics. However, the real tragedy here is that two eloquent, intelligent liberals have allowed promising political careers to be (hopefully temporarily) derailed by personal acrimony. It’s a shame because not only was Chris one of our most effective ministers, but Vicky is an incredibly impressive economist and could have been a remarkable Lib Dem MP.

  • Andrew Suffield 3rd Feb '12 - 3:46pm

    The bottom line is, even if charges are dropped or Huhne is acquitted, his “political career” almost certainly is toast.

    If he is shown to be innocent on the basis of evidence (for example, somebody else is convicted, or the whole thing is proved to be a fabrication of the media) then he’ll be back in the cabinet in this parliament.

    If the result is ambiguous or worse, his career’s over.

  • Mehdi Hasan at the New Statesman makes some good point http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2012/02/huhne-coalition-lib-labour

  • This is very, very convenient for the right, isn’t it? Convenient for the Tories, convenient for the oil companies, convenient, perhaps, for Chris’s enemies within his own party.

    Personally, I don’t give two hoots if people exceed the speed limit on motorways now and again, even to the extent of sharing points to save their licenses. Plenty have done it, and I am sure there are policemen, judges, journalists and internet trolls among them. I’ve never been done for speeding myself, but I guess my acceleration doesn’t lend itself to such things. People with posher cars are more vulnerable. Compared to the things that Tony Blair did (starting an illegal war and lying to Parliament), this is unimaginably trivial. Apart from Chris’s enemies, who gives a monkey’s? Anyone who believes that this prosecution is anything other than politically motivated should ask how many similar prosecutions there have been since the introduction of speed cameras.

    Btw, perjury and perverting the course of justice are two different offences. One can only commit perjury by lying under oath.

  • Chris Thomas 3rd Feb '12 - 5:53pm

    Mr Huhne has disappointed me in one particular way as Energy Secretary. Whatever political skills he might have, he has failed to appreciate the need for provision of the means of overcoming the intermittency of renewables. Until deferred use of renewable energy is possible, green energy will be a disappointment. Ten thousand or ten million wind turbines, it makes no difference. Energy storage can take the form of flywheels running in vacuums, spun by the excess electrical power from wind and sun and able in turn to generate electricity when demand requires. Thermal energy can be stored as molten mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate (high specific heat) to generate steam to drive turbine electricity generators. Hydrogen for fuel cells can be got from water using excess electricity produced by renewables. Without energy reservoirs, wind turbines will be expensive white elephants, the reality of which will be impossible to conceal.

    The electricity distribution system is not a giant battery. Capacitor is a better analogy but a capacitor cannot produce a useful output of electricity. Use of energy storage can enable a much larger proportion of renewables to be productively used. I want lots of green electricity. Cannot an advanced country like the UK do this?

    I do not want to be old in the cold and dark. Less of the hot air and give the engineers the freedom to create solutions which work. I want to enjoy a complacent old age where plentiful clean heat, light and mobility can be taken for granted. If this is not what politics is about then what is politics for? It is about the well-being of the people which will not be best served by a return to the 18th century.

  • David Pollard 3rd Feb '12 - 6:08pm

    The law is such a relief after politics. If Chris Huhne is found not guilty by a jury, then that is it unless new evidence comes up of course. Its all evidence based. If Chris is found not guilty then he has every right to carry on with his career in any way he likes.

  • It’s not right for a Minister of the Crown to be prosecuted by the Crown, and since we must have rule of law, it’s up to the minister to stop being a minister. For the entity which is the state to have trust in someone it appoints to run the country while simultaneously trying to secure a conviction against them for breaking its laws is untenable.

    His position precluded the ability to remain in it while facing prosecution. Of course we should remember he remains an MP, as is right since in that capacity he is a representative of the British people, and not an appointee of the state.

  • “If Chris is found not guilty then he has every right to carry on with his career in any way he likes.”

    It is possible to be found innocent but with evidence that effectively ends your career. Eg after two days of damning evidence the prosecution realise they haven’t disclosed some key piece of evidence but the publicity has made a fair retrial impossible.

    @Paul – absolutely right as to him not getting a criminal conviction. As to preserving his political career I think Stephen has it bang on.

  • “It is possible to be found innocent but with evidence that effectively ends your career. Eg after two days of damning evidence the prosecution realise they haven’t disclosed some key piece of evidence but the publicity has made a fair retrial impossible.”

    And of course, in a criminal case the jury may consider that a defendant more likely than not is guilty, but may still acquit him if that likelihood falls short of certainty “beyond reasonable doubt”.

  • Stuart Mitchell 3rd Feb '12 - 9:04pm

    “Chris Huhne: the straight talking…”

    That’s an odd choice of words considering the nature of the allegations which have forced him to resign.

    Simon: “There have been too many allegations, revelations and suggestions about how he operates his life in and out of governemnt for him to get anywhere.”

    That’s certainly how it *should* be. Looking again the other day at Huhne’s infamous “family man” pre-election leaflet, I personally think he isn’t fit to be an MP, never mind a minister.

    I realise that such a “moral” view will seem quaint and eccentric to some.

  • Kevin Colwill 3rd Feb '12 - 11:43pm

    Some of us non-geeky (ok then- less-geeky), non-hardcore types have been heartily sick of knee jerk Lib Dem defence of Huhme. Let’s face it, if he was a Tory or especially if he was Labour there would had been a chorus of Lib Dems calling for him to go and a lot of quiet satisfaction how he has. Innocent until proven guilty wouldn’t have mattered as much as claiming a poilitical scalp.
    Huhme and his supporter’s political radar was off. Fair or otherwise the “distraction” was already out there. The allegations and their source were always what mattered, especially in the light of him selling himself as a “family man”. He should have gone much earlier and I think most people on here know it.
    Rule of thumb…Would I want a resignation from this guy if he wasn’t in my party? If “yes” – don’t support him..simples!

  • Kevin Colwill 4th Feb '12 - 12:05am

    aoplogies…bad typing not bad manners accounts for my misspelling of Mr Huhne’s name.

  • Andrew Suffield 4th Feb '12 - 5:53pm

    He should have gone much earlier

    There shouldn’t have been an 8-month delay resulting from the Sunday Times trying to avoid submitting their evidence. This should have been settled in a few weeks. Nobody expected this (except Murdoch, who made it happen).

  • Sesenco.. Posted 3rd February 2012 at 5:47 pm …………..Personally, I don’t give two hoots if people exceed the speed limit on motorways now and again, even to the extent of sharing points to save their licenses. Plenty have done it, and I am sure there are policemen, judges, journalists and internet trolls among them……….

    So that makes it OK?

    …………………… Anyone who believes that this prosecution is anything other than politically motivated should ask how many similar prosecutions there have been since the introduction of speed cameras………………….

    Another conspiracy theory? So, when the police were given evidence that this offence ( despite your loyal feelings, it is a serious offence) had taken place they should have said, “Compared to the things that Tony Blair did this is unimaginably trivial, let’s let him off”?

    BTW…A recent case before the Court of Appeal shows judges consider ‘taking points’ an offence worthy of jail except in the most ‘exceptional circumstances’.
    It concerned two Cumbrian lorry drivers, Trevor Henderson, 43, who was caught doing 49 in a 40 zone, and Graham Metcalfe, 27, who took the rap for his friend, paying the £60 fine and taking the three penalty points. Henderson already had 11 points and told the police he ‘panicked’ when he received the notice because he feared losing his licence and his job. Both admitted what they had done and were jailed for six months at Lincoln Crown Court. They were also given driving bans.

    I expect their prosecutions were also ‘politically motivated’

  • Tony Dawson 5th Feb '12 - 9:46am

    @Kevin Colwill:

    “Would I want a resignation from this guy if he wasn’t in my party? If “yes” – don’t support him..simples!”

    It is amazing how few people involved in politics are prepared to take this simple analysis and act on it. Something about tribal loyalty, I suppose.

  • Jason,

    Before you start lobbing words like “conspiracy” around, you should note the following:

    (1) Chris and his former wife have been accused by the Crown of participating in a CONSPIRACY – to share points.

    (2) The newspaper that destroyed Chris’s marriage and the one that published the story about the driving offence are (were in the first case) owned by Mr Rupert Murdoch who, as we all know, has nothing whatsoever against people who threaten the interests of the oil companies, and is a thoroughly honourable and decent man in every possible way.

    (3) How many people have actually been prosecuted for sharing points?

    (4) How many people have witnessed someone committing that wicked, heinous act of exceeding the speed limit and not reported it immediately to the Police?

    My point is that the Police and the CPS would not have investigated this alleged offence if it had not been for Murdoch making an issue of it. And to suggest that Murdoch had anything other than altruistic motives makes me a “conspiracy theorist” worthy of a lifetime’s incarceration in a looney bin.

  • Paul McKeown 5th Feb '12 - 1:49pm

    Reading through much of the reporting pertaining to this case, one is left wondering whether the trials of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce’s are not already prejudiced. If even here, some people cannot accept that a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence, what is the likelihood that a jury will?

  • Firstly… Huhne has the RIGHT to be presumed to be innocent until PROVED to be guilty. The application of this principle is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial.

    Secondly… this PRESUMPTION of innocence should not interfere with a person’s ability to carry on with their normal life and career, UNLESS either they are remanded in custody, awaiting trial OR the nature of their employment makes it impossible that they could carry on as normal. Arguably, Huhne finds himself in this latter category.

    There are parallels here with the impending trial of John Terry. The Football Association felt that his position as captain of England was incompatible with being charged with a racially aggravated public order offence. It is the same with Huhne. His role as a Government minister is incompatible with being charged with an extremely serious offence – Perverting the Course of Justice.

    Many contributors fail to realise that being charged with this offence requires the permission of the Director of Public Prosecutions, hence Kier Starmer’s role in proceedings.

    Huhne has protested his innocence and has the right to this presumption but ‘…Crown Prosecutors must be satisfied there is enough evidence to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” against each defendant … AND
    …will usually take place unless the prosecutor is sure that the public interest factors tending against prosecution outweigh those tending in favour.’ This is a direct quote from the CPS Code for Crown Prosecutors.

    Considering the length of the investigation and, I would presume, the extreme care with which the CPS and the DPP have considered the evidence against Huhne it is evident that the authorities feel that matters require that there be a trial of both Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce. Coming after Huhne’s protestations of innocence, one has to wonder what the eventual outcome will be.

    As regards Huhne’s political career, I think that it is effectively over, at least as regards the ultimate office he has so clearly sought. Mud sticks and Huhne will never escape from allusions to this, no matter what the ultimate outcome of the trial. I do not know Huhne, but even loyal Liberal Democrats describe him as ‘abrasive’ and ‘arrogant’ whereas others, such as journalist James Delingpole have gone far further, describing him as ‘heroically charmless in every concievable way’.

    I therefore do not suppose for a moment that many at Westminster will shed many tears for the demise of Huhne’s career and many people will feel that he has sowed the wind and reaped a whirlwind by dumping his wife for his lover, thereby bringing his present troubles upon himself.

    “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
    “The Mourning Bride” (1697) by William Congreve.

  • @Sesenco – prosecutions for this are not unknown. There will always be a difficulty with such cases as only two people will know what is going on and they will usually be in a trusting relationship.

    I also suspect that in the vast majority of such cases people will plead guilty to avoid prison so there will be a limited number of media reports of such things.

    Surely it was the affair that destroyed Chris’s marriage rather than the papers? And hasn’t most of the running on this been in the Mail and Telegraph which aren’t Murdoch papers?

  • David Allen 6th Feb '12 - 12:01am

    OK, evading a driving ban by misrepresentation is an offence, and any minister convicted of it should resign. Falsely claiming large sums of money by misrepresentation of expenses is seriously wrong, and any minister found to have done it should resign, as Laws did. Helping your commercial friend gain business contacts by misrepresentation within ministerial missions is seriously wrong, and any minister found to have done it should also resign.

    Which of those three cases of seriously bad behaviour do we think is the worst? It seems that the consensus – led by a Tory press? – is that the driving-related offence is worse than the two cases of financial misbehaviour. It seems that Laws can be welcomed back after a suitable penance, but Huhne if convicted, or perhaps even if not, “is toast”.

    I beg to differ. There is a powerful lobby in favour of those who commit financial misdemeanours. It is orchestrated by all the many other opportunists, chancers, blaggers and outright swindlers who have used their financial careers to enrich themselves wrongfully at the expense of the rest of the nation, and would like to make light of their misdeeds. If Huhne is to be put to the sword, then the financial chancers should be treated likewise.

  • Hywel,

    How many prosecutions have there been? Numbers, please?

  • If i had numbers I would have given them. I’m aware of two cases I’ve heard about from lawyers. In any case you made the claim first so isn’t it up to you to back it up?

    But since you are pursuing the point
    http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Private-hire-driver-wife-speeding-points/story-12245413-detail/story.html
    http://www.pattersonlaw.co.uk/Offences/Court/Dangerous-Myths.php (myth 7)
    And three more stories here:
    http://www.roadsupervisors.net/aes.speeding-ticket.htm#Point-Swapping…%20%22FYI%22.

    There are – as I said – significant evidential problems with mounting a case for such an act. As is evidenced by the fact that for 7 years any investigation into this had got nowhere.

  • Sesenco…… Posted 5th February 2012 at 12:56

    Your first point has nothing to do with your assertion that the prosecution is polically or financially motivated…

    What Blair, or anyone else has done, has absolutely no bearing on this case.

    I, nor anyone posting here, know the details of the e-mails or evidence given by Huhne’s ex-wife. However, the mere fact that the e-mails were deemed so important probably means that there is rather more than just an ex-wife’s vindictiveness.

    I don’t know if Huhne is guilty and it is important that he is presumed innocent. However, he is a high profile character, and not to prosecute would have left those who subscribe to political interference in the judicial system to have a field day…

  • Jason,

    “Your first point has nothing to do with your assertion that the prosecution is polically or financially motivated…”

    Please point me to where I said it is financially motivated.

    A number of prominent politicians have been caught having sex in public lavatories over the years. Why were they not prosecuted – when ordinary people doing the same thing were? Did they have friends in high places, perhaps?

    The late Bob Boothby perverted the course of justice in a very big way when he obstructed the Police investigation of the Krays. Why was he never prosecuted? Might it have had something to do with the fact that he was having an affair with the former prime minister’s wife, and was a member of an elite family?

    Why were three labour politicians (all now dead) not prosecuted when they fraudulently obtained damages from “Private Eye” which had accused them (correctly) of being drunk in Venice? Did they have friends in high places, perhaps, like Boothby?

    Why was the late Reginald Maudling never prosecuted for his part in the Poulson scandal, when T Dan Smith and Andrew Cunningham went to jail? Was it perhaps because Maudling was a leading Tory politician while the other two were minor Labourites?

    (Yes, I’m confining myself to historical cases so I don’t get LDV into trouble, but there are other more recent ones that are equally shocking.)

    And Jason, Tony Blair is entirely relevant. He committed one of the worst crimes imaginable (starting an illegal war – rather more serious than speeding on the motorway), and wasn’t even prosecuted for selling peerages, despite the evidence that he had done. As the man wallows in ever more riches thrown at him by the elite he takes the Mickey out of any notion that British politics has standards and decency attached to it.

    One law for the few, another for the many.

    Chris Huhne is clearly detested by the right because he is rude to senior Tories and is the one Lib Dem minister in this Tory government who is actually fighting for Lib Dem policies and getting somewhere. And he is detested by myopic people on the left who cannot see the big picture beyond the ends of their noses. Shame on all of them.

  • Paul McKeown 6th Feb '12 - 1:19pm

    @Frankie

    journalist James Delingpole have gone far further, describing him as ‘heroically charmless in every concievable way’.

    That made my day, I really did laugh out loud.

    I wonder did Delingpole quote some criticism directed to his own address?

  • …………….Please point me to where I said it is financially motivated…………

    Your first post stated…”convenient for the oil companies”
    Your second stated…. ” Mr Rupert Murdoch who, as we all know, has nothing whatsoever against people who threaten the interests of the oil companies”

    In what other interest, apart from financial, might Huhne threaten the oil companies?

    ………………..Why were three labour politicians (all now dead) not prosecuted when they fraudulently obtained damages from “Private Eye” which had accused them (correctly) of being drunk in Venice?…………..

    .I believe it was “The Spectator” that accused them. They were not accused of any crime and sued for libel. There was, therefore, no public reason for them to resign. The fact that they lied never became public knowledge until after their deaths….
    However, it has been common knowledge, for many months that Chris Huhne was suspected of this offence. Quite rightly IMO, this suspicion did not require his resignation. His resignation only became essential when a criminal prosecution was announced…

  • Jason,

    No, it is politically, not financially motivated. The people pushing for the prosecution are not the people who would benefit by having Chris out of the way, they are people who promote the interests of those people. That is a crucial distinction.

  • Your argument seems to be that Chris is being prosecuted when other (ordinary) people are not. As I’ve quoted 7 examples – which took me about 5 minutes to find online – where just that has happened what is your basis for that supposition?

  • Hywel,

    Are you arguing that only 7 people have ever shared penalty points?

  • Sesenco…Posted 6th February 2012 at 4:30 pm……..No, it is politically, not financially motivated. The people pushing for the prosecution are not the people who would benefit by having Chris out of the way, they are people who promote the interests of those people. That is a crucial distinction…….

    Now, I understand. Those, pushing for his prosecution, are acting for those who will benefit financially; but it’s not financially motivated.

  • Don’t be ridiculous! I’d have thought it was pretty clear I was saying there were numerous examples. It’s pretty inconceivable that there are only 7 and I found them all in 5 minutes!

    You started by saying, “(3) How many people have actually been prosecuted for sharing points?” and your subsequent comments seemed to suggest that you were claiming this was a situation of selective prosecution.

  • Hywel,

    I don’t think there is anything to be gained in arguing this point any further without the relevant figures: ie, the number of people prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit, and those prosecuted for sharing speeding points (over a given period).

    On the question of whether or not this prosecution is politically motivated (and I think it is on circumstantial grounds), I would love to be able to cite a recent case where prosecuting authorities have decided not to prosecute on what are very clearly political grounds. Unfortunately, I cannot cite this case, or even give a hint, without potentially landing LDV in lots of hassle. However, some readers probably will know which case I am referring to, and I suggest they read up on it and see how it makes them feel about the treatment meted out to Chris Huhne.

  • @David Allen:

    “It seems that the consensus – led by a Tory press? – is that the driving-related offence is worse than the two cases of financial misbehaviour. ”

    You appear to have misunderstood the nature of these charges. The ‘serious’ offence is conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The circumstance in which the conspiracy allegedly occurred is of a secondary importance to the judiciary. In the Laws case, the motive of the offender was thought, certainly by all party people on the House Select Committee to have been non-criminal and he appeared to not actually gain any net financial benefit from his actions. So it is really relatiively trivial compared to ,say, telling lies about your existing mortgage to a new lender.

  • @ Hywel:

    “Surely it was the affair that destroyed Chris’s marriage rather than the papers?”

    Well, you never know, he could always have adopted the Jack Kennedy approach? Jack’s marriage seemed to be surviving despite serial adultery til the fatal bullet hit, as did that of Martin Luther King. Alternatively, there is the Newt Gingrich (wife number 2) proposal route. I am amazed at how many women actually go for that. :-(

  • “Firstly… Huhne has the RIGHT to be presumed to be innocent until PROVED to be guilty.”

    This, ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is, quite properly, the burden of proof required by the law and should remain so. But individuals in their private assessment of each other, individually and collectively, rarely adopt ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ in their judgements of each other. Even when they sack their employees, they tend to use a ‘balance of probabilities’ approach, sometimes slightly-modified.

    The problem is in this particular matter that there appeared to be a severe conflict of evidence between two people, both of whom one would normally wish to trust. The CPS think there is more than a 50 per cent chance of successful prosecution. but then, they thought the same about Harry Redknap, and this prosecution failed. The thing about pursuing things when you are 60 per cent sure of being right is that 40 per cent of the time you will be wrong! And 40 per cent is quite a lot really.

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