Former British minister faces jail after guilty plea

February 05, 2013 - 4:46:05 am

LONDON: Former British energy secretary Chris Huhne faces time behind bars after pleading guilty yesterday to perverting the course of justice by asking his then wife in 2003 to accept a penalty for a speeding offence he had committed.

A senior member of the Liberal Democrats, the smaller party in Britain’s ruling coalition, Huhne, 58, entered his guilty plea on the morning his trial had been due to start at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

It was a dramatic change of tack after he had spent months fighting a costly legal battle to have the charge against him dropped. After losing that battle a week ago, Huhne had initially pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Huhne had resigned from his cabinet post when he was charged in February 2012. Shortly after yesterday’s plea, he said on the steps of the courthouse that he would now also leave parliament.

“Having taken responsibility for something which happened 10 years ago the only proper course of action for me is now to resign my Eastleigh seat in parliament,” he told reporters.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who narrowly defeated Huhne to become the Liberal Democrat leader in 2007, said he was “shocked and saddened” by Huhne’s guilty plea.