In Depth

Huhne goes down apologising but still blaming others

Former journalist has forgotten the difference between a media campaign and a newspaper investigation

Mole

THE arrogance of Chris Huhne was still there for all to see when he gave exclusive interviews to Channel Four News and The Guardian before he was sent down for eight months yesterday.

Huhne did his best to sound contrite. He admitted he had "lied and lied again" to political hacks including C4's Gary Gibbon - who reminded the former Energy Secretary: "You lied to my face" - but it wasn't long before he was blaming a "media campaign" for his incarceration.

And although he kept apologising, he couldn't resist referring to his crime as a "trivial" matter.

"It seems crazy that what is on the face of it, without realising the full legal consequences, a fairly trivial issue of exchanging speeding points with your wife, can spin into this massive, devastating set of consequences for family, for career and for everything you really care about."

Huhne was, of course, a journalist himself not so long ago - he worked for The Guardian and The Independent as economics editor before becoming an MEP – but he appears to have forgotten the difference between a "media campaign" and a "newspaper investigation".

When Vicky Pryce told Isabel Oakeshott over lunch two years ago that she and her ex-husband had once swapped speeding points, the Sunday Times political editor could hardly have been expected to ignore it.

Huhne suggested Pryce had not understood the consequences of talking to Oakeshott. "I think I understood after a while what was likely to happen. And I don't think my ex-wife did for example, and I don't think there was a full understanding of the effect all this was likely to have on the family, not just in terms of my career and potentially the career of my ex-wife as well, but also on any money that might have been put aside for the kids to get them on the housing ladder or whatever it happens to be."

So there you have it: it was all Vicky's fault. That should help her through the shattering experience of being "banged up" in Holloway.

Former Lib Dem leader Lord ‘Paddy' Ashdown, who has had his own issues with arrogance, appearing on Tom Bradby's The Agenda last night, said it was all "hubris".

Ashdown also suggested Huhne should follow the example of John Profumo who - after the 1960s sex scandal with Christine Keeler - returned to public life by doing good works in the East End of London.

Whether or not he takes Ashdown's advice - why can't the Mole quite see it happening? - Huhne would do well to listen to former prisoners who say he must lose his arrogance before it's knocked out of him inside.

"Keep your head down, and a low profile," advised Jonathan Aitken, the last former Cabinet minister to find himself in jail. "Don't go in with any airs or graces."

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