Huhne faces jail over speeding penalty lie
CHRIS HUHNE faces jail and the humiliating end to his political career after dramatically admitting lying to avoid a speeding penalty.
After nearly two years proclaiming his innocence and fighting to have the case dropped, the former Energy Secretary pleaded guilty on the eve of his trial to making ex-wife Vicky Pryce accept points on his behalf.
The 58-year-old immediately announced he was standing down from parliament – sparking a by-election in marginal Eastleigh that could test coalition relations to the limit – and voluntarily removing himself from the Privy Council.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he was "shocked and saddened" by the news, but added that Huhne was doing the right thing by quitting the Commons. Huhne's legal team had made two previous attempts to get the case dismissed or suspended, and as recently as last week he told the court he was not guilty of perverting the course of justice. However, when asked again at London's Southwark Crown Court yesterday morning, he clearly replied: "Guilty."
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Mr Justice Sweeney granted Huhne unconditional bail, but warned him he should have "no illusions whatsoever as to the sort of sentence that you are likely to receive".
Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum life prison term – but the average is around 10 months.
PR adviser Carina Trimingham was in the public gallery to watch as Huhne made his confession. The emergence of their relationship in September 2010 ended his marriage to 60-year-old Pryce, and the speeding allegations leaked out soon afterwards.
Pryce continues to deny perverting the course of justice over the speeding fine in 2003, and her trial was due to begin today.