Huhne blames 'aggressive' Murdoch press for downfall
Disgraced former MP says he was targeted after calling for re-opening of inquiry into phone hacking
FORMER MP Chris Huhne has blamed a "new media aggression" in general, and the "Murdoch press" in particular, for his spectacular fall from grace.
The high-profile Liberal Democrat spent two months in prison earlier this year for perverting the course of justice after he admitted that his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, had taken speeding points for him.
Writing in The Guardian today, the 59-year-old says he is "not proud" of his behaviour. But he suggests that two newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch - the now defunct News of the World and theSunday Times - vigorously investigated and exposed his extra-marital affair and the speeding point conspiracy because their proprietor was infuriated by his calls for police to re-open the voicemail hacking inquiry.
Huhne's argument got short shrift from one of the journalists whose stories led to his downfall. NOTW's former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck - who exposed Huhne's affair with media advisor Carina Trimingham - tweeted: "Not a 'Murdoch press target'. A Neville Thurlbeck target. My source, my story. & it took a year to persuade the ed to run it."
Chris Huhne trying to say his crimes were exposed because he was a threat to Murdoch. No, mate, it's cos you were a toerag.
— fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) September 9, 2013
Meanwhile, the political blogger Fleetstreetfox tweeted: "Chris Huhne trying to say his crimes were exposed because he was a threat to Murdoch. No, mate, it's cos you were a toerag."
In his Guardian article, Huhne admits it could be seen as an act of folly to "court Murdoch's hostility", but "the journalist in me rebelled". As a result, the NOTW exposed his affair and the Sunday Times political editor "groomed" Pryce until she told them about the speeding points, he says.
The fact that the Sunday Times ran stories about Huhne and Pryce as the lead item on its front page for four consecutive weeks "ensured our joint prosecution", writes Huhne.
"The Crown Prosecution Service loves a celebrity trial. It was the end of my political career, and it locked up my ex-wife too. She was just another 'burned contact' for the Murdoch press."
Huhne says the "new aggression" of the press would have made "toast" of the likes of John F. Kennedy and David Lloyd George - high-profile politicians who both strayed outside their marriages.
But he argues an over-aggressive press is a problem for everyone, not just politicians. "Media ownership must be more diverse because it is the lifeblood of public debate," he writes. "It is not only votes that make a democracy, but voices too." ·