Chris Huhne to stand trial next Monday

chris_huhneFrom the BBC:

Former cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife are to stand trial next Monday over allegations she took speeding points for him so he could avoid prosecution.

The Lib Dem MP, 58, pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice at Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

His former wife, Vicky Pryce, has previously pleaded not guilty to the same offence.

They were charged last year in relation to the alleged offence in 2003.

Mr Huhne, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, resigned as energy and climate change secretary after he was charged. He remained as Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh.

The charge relates to an incident in March 2003 when Mr Huhne’s car was allegedly caught by a speed camera on the motorway between Stansted Airport in Essex and London.

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  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Jan '13 - 10:12am

    Isn’t there a REMARKABLE inefficiency in the legal system here?

    This is not a highly complex issue, it is something that ought to have been resolved in a few days. It’s no more complex, for example, than cases of suspected plagiarism I had to deal with when I was a university Exam Board chair. The allegation would be made, a meeting held, and it would all be resolved in the space of a week or so. Why on earth could not that have been done here? Surely it makes sense to deal with these things as soon as possible while memories are fresh and to prevent collusion to cook up some sort of excuse. What would have been said of me as Exam Board chair had my response been “Maybe in a year or two’s time, we’ll decide on your case”? Why do we tolerate this gross inefficiency in the legal system?

  • With all due respect to your academic experience, plagiarism isn’t a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Jan '13 - 11:15pm

    Right, so someone gets a position on the basis of qualifications, but they didn’t really have those qualifications, someone else did the work? In my subject, that position might be writing computer code that is running machinery and processes failure of which could cost lives. You think that’s not nearly as serious as dodging a speeding ticket by claiming someone else was doing the driving?

    How many people are imprisoned for life for getting someone else to take their speeding points? It’s a bad thing for sure, but it seems to me not to be too far removed overall from a serious plagiarism offence in a degree.

    Whatever, what in earth does it take that there should be such a long time involved in Mr Huhne being accused of this and Mr Huhne being brought to trial?

  • Indeed. And why does it take a team of 25 officers several months to investigate ‘plebgate’ – the CCTV is only a few minutes long!

  • I think I read that a large part of the delay has been pre-trial legal arguments which had the potential to stop it ever reaching court..

  • Steve – yes indeed. Any idea what those arguments were??

  • @Phyllis – No. Wikipedia states an order was made restricting what could be reported about the pre-trial hearings. I don’t believe this is unusual as it could have included something that could prejudice the eventual hearing so fair enough really.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Jan '13 - 11:23am

    Steve Way

    I think I read that a large part of the delay has been pre-trial legal arguments which had the potential to stop it ever reaching court..

    Yes, so why should these things take so long? Is there any other profession where such a delay would be regarded as acceptable? Other professions have to make their decisions quickly. Does it really take lawyers a year or whatever it is to deal with these issues? I’m not asking these questions purely rhetorically, I’d accept an answer which explains to my satisfaction why it has to be that way if indeed it does have to be that way.

  • James Sandbach 31st Jan '13 - 12:10pm

    Delays, adjournments, endless interim procedures. poor communications and liason between different agents (police, CPS, Defence, Witnesses, Judiciary etc), ineffective use of IT, are all endemic to the culture of the criminal justice process – especially in the Crown Court, whilst the Magistrates courts (often relying on volunteer judges and poorly resourced) are remarkably efficient by comparison, though there are significant problems there as well. All of these problems add hugely to the overall costs of the justice system – (the MoJ is arguably an underfunded department with Chris Grayling having to reduce the costs of the whole system – legal aid, courts, tribunals, prisons, probation/parole and related agencies/services – to a £5b spending envelope).

    Yet the systemic problems in the system never seem to get adressed at all – instead the the MoJ’s approach to reducing spending is two-fold; to slash by around 50% the funding for civil legal aid which helps people resolve money, social and family problems, and to outsource functions in the criminal justice system on the lowest price basis in a way that further fragments the different arms of the justice system..

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