Update: Energy minister Chris Huhne quits the Cabinet after being charged over speeding allegations
CHRIS Huhne resigned as Energy and Climate Change Secretary today after being charged with perverting the course of justice over allegations that he asked his ex-wife to take a speeding penalty for him.
Mr Huhne and his former wife, economist Vicky Pryce, who faces the same charge, will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on February 16.
The charge - which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment - will eventually be heard by a judge at Crown Court.
Speaking at his London home less than an hour after the decision to prosecute was announced, Mr Huhne, 57, said he was quitting David Cameron’s Cabinet in order to fight to clear his name.
“I am innocent of these charges and I intend to fight this in the courts and I am confident that a jury will agree,” he said.
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Economist Ms Pryce, who allegedly agreed to take some penalty points so her ex could avoid a driving ban, told the BBC: “I understand there will be charges.”
Her comment came ahead of an official announcement by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC.
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The decision follows an eight-month police investigation into the allegations.
A decision to proceed with the case is expected to spell the end of the Liberal Democrat’s Cabinet career - although he has repeatedly refused to confirm that he would quit.
The alleged incident dates back nearly a decade, but only emerged after Mr Huhne admitted an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham in 2010 and ended his marriage.
The Sunday Times reported that he had allegedly been caught by a speed camera on March 12 2003.
He has consistently denied claims that he was the one behind the wheel and that Ms Pryce admitted the offence because he would have faced a ban if he collected any more penalty points.
Mr Huhne is alleged to have been returning from Stansted Airport to his home in Clapham, south London, on the day in question, having flown in from Strasbourg, where the European Parliament sits.
Images have since emerged of Ms Pryce’s driving licence, indicating that she received three points for a speeding offence in the Essex area on March 12 2003.
However, she is believed to have later said she was actually at an event in London that day.
Essex police started an investigation when it was claimed in a Sunday Times interview with Ms Pryce last May that her ex-husband asked “someone” to take speeding points on his behalf.
It later emerged that she was apparently the “someone” concerned.