Huhne ‘can’t remember’ if he was driving

May 22, 2011
Linda Palermo

Lib Dem minister in desperate last bid to save his job over penalty points row

The under-fire energy secretary Chris Huhne is to tell Essex police this week that he may indeed have been driving his car the day that it was caught on a speed camera in 2003 - an incident that has threatened to end the Lib Dem cabinet minister's political career.

According to the Sunday Times, Huhne will admit that "he cannot be sure" that he wasn't behind the wheel of the car when it was caught speeding.

Despite not being a Westminster MP at the time - Huhne was a member of the European Parliament - the accusation, if proved true, would be politically fatal to the MP for Eastleigh, who is widely seen to be positioning himself for a bid to dislodge deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as party leader.

After a couple of weeks of denials that he had pressured his wife Vicky Pryce - from whom he is now estranged - into taking the rap for the penalty points incurred by the offence, Huhne's new position looks to be a desperate last bid to save his reputation.

The paper reports that Huhne is increasingly isolated at Westminster within his own party, and a Labour MP was behind a complaint to the Essex police which provoked them into launching an investigation into the offence.

An aide of Clegg's is quoted as saying that "basically he can't say he definitely wasn't driving. He doesn't remember what he was doing that day [as he] hasn't got a diary about whether he drove or not."

Huhne is unable to gain access to any of his paperwork to confirm or deny the charges against him as he no longer lives in the marital home with Pryce since his decision to leave her for his bisexual aide Carina Trimingham. An ally of the politician said that "if what [Pryce] wanted was to ruin him, or really ruin him, it's job done now. It's time for her to save herself now."

The implication here is that having already allegedly lied once to protect her husband, Pryce may withdraw the claim that she took the rap for Huhne to save herself from any potential police investigation that may centre on her previous statements.

Sign up for our daily newsletter