Chris Huhne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Chris Huhne
Chris Huhne MP crop.jpg
Secretary of State for Energy and
Climate Change
In office
12 May 2010 – 5 February 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Ed Miliband
Succeeded by Ed Davey
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman
In office
20 December 2007 – 12 May 2010
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by Nick Clegg
Succeeded by Vacant
Liberal Democrat Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Spokesman
In office
3 March 2006 – 19 December 2007
Leader Menzies Campbell
Vince Cable
Preceded by Norman Baker
Succeeded by Steve Webb
Member of Parliament
for Eastleigh
In office
5 May 2005 – 5 February 2013
Preceded by David Chidgey
Succeeded by Mike Thornton
Majority 3,864 (7.2%)
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
In office
10 June 1999 – 12 May 2005
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Sharon Bowles
Personal details
Born Christopher Murray Paul-Huhne
(1954-07-02) 2 July 1954 (age 60)
London, United Kingdom
Political party None
Other political
affiliations
Liberal Democrats (until 2013)[1]
Spouse(s) Vicky Pryce (1984–2011)
Domestic partner Carina Trimingham (2010–present)
Children 3 (also 2 step-daughters)
Alma mater University of Paris
Magdalen College, Oxford

Christopher Murray Paul-Huhne (born 2 July 1954) is a British journalist and former politician who was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Eastleigh from 2005 to 2013 and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change from 2010 to 2012.[2][3][4] He currently writes a weekly column for The Guardian.[5][6]

On 3 February 2012, Huhne resigned from the Cabinet when he was charged with perverting the course of justice over a 2003 speeding case. His then wife had said that she was in the car at the time and thus accepted the licence penalty points on his behalf. Chris Huhne denied the charge until the trial began on 4 February 2013, when he changed his plea to guilty, resigned as a member of parliament and left the Privy Council.[7][8][9] He was sentenced to eight months in prison at Southwark Crown Court, along with his former wife Vicky Pryce for the same offence, on 11 March.[10] He served 62 days of his sentence at HMP Leyhill before he was released.[11]

Huhne had twice stood unsuccessfully for election as Leader of the Liberal Democrats; in 2006 he came second to Sir Menzies Campbell and in 2007 he narrowly lost to Nick Clegg.[12][13]

Early life[edit]

Education and upbringing[edit]

Huhne was born in West London to businessman Peter Paul-Huhne and actress Ann Murray.[14]

Huhne was educated at the Westminster School, and he was known during his school years as Christopher Paul-Huhne. After leaving the Westminster School, Paul-Huhne matriculated to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he simplified his name from Christopher Paul-Huhne to Chris Huhne and where he was a Demy.[citation needed] Huhne also attended the Sorbonne, Paris.[15][16]

At the University of Oxford, Huhne edited the student magazine Isis, served on the executive of the Oxford University Labour Club, and achieved a first-class degree in PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics).[15][17] Huhne was active in student politics supporting the Labour Party.[15]

1973 student article[edit]

A news story in The Sunday Times on 21 October 2007[18] said an article credited to Huhne had appeared in the University of Oxford's Isis magazine in February 1973 saying that drugs such as opium, LSD and amphetamines were an "accepted facet of our society". In response to questions by The Times about his 1973 statement, Huhne responded "To be honest I don't have any memory of it", saying he was entitled to a private life before politics.[18] In an interview published on the Kent News website on 10 November 2007, Huhne said, "I clearly regret the views and I don't agree with those views at all. I was a teenager and I'm now 53 and I think all of us do tend to move on in life."[19]

Career before Parliament[edit]

Before embarking on his political career, he was a City entrepreneur. He told The Independent in 2008: "I don't claim that I'm in other than a very happy position compared with most people, because, having spent a bit of time in the City before I was elected, being able to make a bit of money while I was there, I have a cushion."[20] He started a company named Sovereign Ratings IBCA in 1994 that tried to "scientifically measure the risks of investing in different countries".[20] In 1997 he became managing director of Fitch IBCA, and from 1999 to 2003 was vice-chairman of Fitch Ratings.[20]

Huhne was economics editor, leader writer and columnist for The Guardian,[21] and economics editor, assistant editor and columnist for The Independent on Sunday. He was the business editor of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday during its investigations into Robert Maxwell's fraud on the Mirror group pension fund. He started as an undercover freelance reporter in India during Indira Gandhi's emergency when western journalists had been expelled. He also worked for the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo and The Economist (as its Brussels correspondent 1977–1980). He won both the junior and senior Wincott awards for financial journalist of the year (in 1980 and 1989 respectively).[22] Along with his work in newspapers and magazine he co-wrote the book Debt & Danger: The World Financial Crisis (Penguin, 1985) with Harold Lever, and wrote Real World Economics (Penguin 1990).[21]

Parliamentary candidate[edit]

Huhne contested the 1983 general election as a Parliamentary candidate for the SDP–Liberal Alliance in Reading East but came a distant second[23] and in the 1987 general election, he was the SDP–Liberal Alliance candidate in the Oxford West and Abingdon seat,[23] a seat that would be won ten years later by Liberal Democrat candidate Evan Harris.[24]

Member of European Parliament (1999–2005)[edit]

In June 1999 Huhne was elected as a member of the European Parliament for South East England.[25] The Liberal Democrats came third with a total of 228,136 votes behind the Conservatives and Labour.[25] The proportion of votes received meant that the party was able to send the top two list candidates to the European Parliament, Emma Nicholson the top list candidate and Chris Huhne, 2nd on the list.[25] During the 2004 European Parliament elections Huhne was re-elected along with Emma Nicholson with the party having received 338,342 votes, 15% of the total vote.[26] In 2005 Huhne stood for election to the United Kingdom parliament representing the seat of Eastleigh in Hampshire. After he was elected as a Member of the House of Commons on 5 May 2005,[27] Sharon Bowles, the candidate third on the Liberal Democrat list, replaced Huhne as representative for the South East of England.[28]

During his time in the European Parliament, Huhne was the only Liberal Democrat MEP in a ranking by The Economist of the three highest-profile UK MEPs (the others being Glenys Kinnock and Caroline Lucas). He was a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, concerned with economic and financial policy including regulation of the financial sector. He was economic spokesman for the pan-European Liberal group in the European Parliament and was responsible for introducing "sunset clauses" – time limits on powers – into European Union law for the first time; for radically amending Commission proposals on financial services; and for opening up the European Central Bank to greater scrutiny.

In addition to his European Parliament responsibilities, he was also active in the development of Liberal Democrat policy as chairman of four policy groups: broadcasting and the media; globalisation; the introduction of the euro and the reform of public services. On public services, he argued that money was a necessary condition of improvement, but that the key was now decentralised and democratic control; local voters needed to be able to hold local decision-takers to account.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Huhne was first elected to represent Eastleigh at the general election on 5 May 2005,[27] a constituency within the area for which he was previously the Member of the European Parliament. The previous MP for the constituency, David Chidgey, was also a Liberal Democrat who won his seat in what was historically a Conservative area in a by-election in 1994 following the death of Stephen Milligan.[29] The result in 2005 was close, with Huhne winning with a majority of 568 over Conservative rival Conor Burns.[27] In the 2010 general election Huhne retained his seat with an increased majority of 3,864 over the Conservatives' Maria Hutchings.[27] He was appointed as Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds on 5 February 2013, which vacated his seat and thus ended his tenure as Member of Parliament for Eastleigh. In accepting this office, he became the first official Liberal or Liberal Democrat MP to resign a parliamentary seat since 1941.

Treasury spokesman[edit]

Following his election to the House of Commons then Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy made Huhne the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury for the party.[23] In this role Huhne led the party's debate on the Finance Bill 2005 suggesting that amendments should be made to stop a pensions loophole which would have allowed rich investors to get 40% discount on property and other investments in their pension. In the Pre-budget report for 2006, the Chancellor conceded the change.[23]

2006 leadership contest[edit]

Huhne stood against Sir Menzies Campbell and Simon Hughes for the Liberal Democrat leadership after Charles Kennedy's resignation, formally launching his campaign on 13 January 2006.

Huhne was able to carve out a unique position on the issue of green taxation – he argued for a radical expansion of taxes on pollution, allowing for reductions in the income tax rate on the lowest paid.[30] This theme endeared Huhne to environmentalists and market liberals alike, allowing him to gain a march on his rivals and pick up supporters as the campaign went on. He also argued for a repeal of elements of the Labour government's anti-terrorism legislation, which many felt had undermined British civil liberties, and for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq within a year. He described himself as a 'social liberal'.[31]

Although the majority of Liberal Democrat MPs – and much of the party establishment – declared their support for Sir Menzies Campbell, Huhne did receive endorsements from some party notables including Lord Maclennan and William Rodgers. Amongst the media, The Economist and The Independent supported his leadership bid. He was backed from an early stage by a number of bloggers, and gained much momentum from a sharp internet campaign.[32]

In the final vote, Huhne finished runner-up, tallying 21,628 votes to Sir Menzies Campbell's 29,697.[33] Campbell appointed him as Liberal Democrat environment spokesman in the subsequent frontbench reshuffle, in order for Huhne to develop a viable programme to expand on his green campaign themes.[34]

During the election campaign a news story in The Independent on 27 February 2006[35] reported that an unsigned document entitled "Chris Huhne's Hypocritical Personal Share Portfolio" was being circulated at Lib Dem leadership election meetings. The document alleged that Huhne had invested in companies that the document described as "unethical".[35] The document stated "Chris Huhne is campaigning for the Lib Dem leadership on a green, carbon-neutral platform, and further advocates increasing tax for the wealthy, which would include himself. However, his shareholdings include, or have included, mining companies, oil companies and tax shelters."[35]

Huhne has spoken of the need to "roll back [Labour's] security-obsessed surveillance state". However, he holds shares – listed on the Register of Members' Interests – in UK company IRISYS, which specialises in producing thermal imagers "for process, people and queue monitoring"[36] and "which sells cameras to let shops count their customers."[37]

Environment spokesman[edit]

The intellectual energy surrounding Huhne's leadership campaign did much to inform the Liberal Democrats' recent political agenda. His proposals for realigning green taxes and income tax – the green tax switch – were at the heart of the fiscal package endorsed at the party's September 2006 conference.[38]

Huhne was involved in developing his party's thoughts on climate change and the environment, including a consideration of the challenges and opportunities they create for British businesses.[39] He also drew attention to what he said was the divergence between the Conservative Party's recent environmental rhetoric and its policies.[40]

Huhne was one of fourteen MPs forming an all-party parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism in the UK. Their report criticised boycotts of Israeli academics as "an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange" and accused "some left-wing activists and Muslim extremists [...] of using criticism of Israel as 'a pretext' for spreading hatred against British Jews".[41] Huhne is, however, a critic of Israeli government policy in the Middle East, and strongly supports the creation of a separate Palestinian state. He described the Israeli response in Lebanon to Hezbollah's rocket attacks as disproportionate and counter-productive, arguing that a strong Lebanese state is in Israel's long-term interest.

In March 2007 it was falsely reported that he had written to executives at Channel 4 to try and stop their showing The Great Global Warming Swindle.[42] In an e-mail exchange with Iain Dale, Huhne stated that he only wrote to ask for the channel's comments,[43] and the Daily Telegraph later ran a correction and apologised for the misunderstanding, saying it was happy to accept that "Mr Huhne's letter was not an attempt to prevent the film being shown or suppress debate on the issue".[44]

After Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, announced his intention during the 2007 party conference to stand for the leadership should Sir Menzies Campbell retire, Chris Huhne, when asked about his leadership ambitions said that there was "no vacancy, and it would be premature to even talk about the position of there being a vacancy".[45]

2007 leadership contest[edit]

Following the resignation of Sir Menzies Campbell on 15 October 2007 Huhne was considered to be one of the strongest contenders for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.[46] On 17 October, Huhne became the first member of the party to announce his candidacy, saying "I've decided to give it a go" and declaring his vision of a "fairer and greener society".[46] Huhne said that he wanted the party to be committed to the idea that "everybody's individual worth and chance is given its full possibility"[46]

On 28 October 2007, Huhne announced that he had secured the support of 10 of his 62 parliamentary colleagues for his formal nomination. His rival Nick Clegg announced the support of 33 MPs.[47] Huhne also claimed backing from at least twelve peers, four MSPs and three Welsh Assembly members. After former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown announced his support for Clegg, a previous Liberal leader Lord Steel declared his support for Huhne, based in part on Huhne's position on the Trident missile system.[48]

In the last week of campaigning his team were bullish about his chances, predicting a win.[49] In the final count, the party membership chose his rival Nick Clegg by a narrow margin of 511 votes out of more than 41,000 counted.[50][51]

About 1,300 postal votes were caught up in the Christmas post and missed the election deadline. An unofficial check of the late papers showed Huhne had enough votes among them to hand him victory. Huhne stood by the result, saying "Nick Clegg won fair and square on the rules counting the ballot papers that arrived in by the deadline. There is no question of any re-run."[13] Following the leadership election, Clegg chose Huhne to be the party's Home Affairs Spokesman.[52]

Election conduct[edit]

During the leadership election, Nick Clegg registered a formal complaint about Huhne's conduct to Chris Rennard, the party's Chief Whip and returning officer.[53] Clegg stated that his rival was indulging in "the politics of innuendo, mounting false challenges and running a campaign that is handing political ammunition to the party's political opponents".[54] Huhne and Clegg were debating on live television on BBC's The Politics Show on Sunday 18 November 2007 when presenter Jon Sopel produced a briefing document that had been specially delivered to the show's production team by the Huhne campaign team on the preceding Friday.[55] The document excoriated Clegg on a number of policy and political issues and was titled "Calamity Clegg".[56] When challenged about the document, Huhne claimed that he had no knowledge of it and said he did not agree with the document title but agreed with the points within it.[57] Asked how it was possible that he had no knowledge of such a major document sent to the producer of the show he was due to appear on, Huhne replied "It's quite impossible to check everything that goes out of the office... But I can assure you that's not had my authorization."[58] After Clegg complained about what he called "dirty tricks" and other senior party members condemned the Huhne campaign attack, Huhne's Campaign Manager Anna Werrin claimed that the title of the memo was just the product of an "over-zealous researcher" and had not been seen or approved by Huhne or any senior campaign officials prior to release. "The document title had not been approved before the document was sent out and neither Chris nor I were aware of it."[59]

Speaking to the Independent on 21 November 2007 Huhne claimed "Unfortunately it was a mixture of responsibilities. It was an over-zealous young researcher who was responsible for drawing up the document". The researcher was not on his staff, he said, denying that as a former journalist he might have been expected to read what was put out in his name before it was issued.[60] In June 2010, after Huhne's long-running affair with his full-time press agent Carina Trimingham was uncovered, The Guardian and the Daily Mail revealed that the "Calamity Clegg" dossier had been created and circulated by Trimingham,[61] who at that time was 41 years old, "one of Mr. Huhne's closest aides" and his official, on-staff press manager for the leadership campaign – reporting directly to Huhne.[62]

Home Affairs spokesman[edit]

David Cameron and Nick Clegg with Huhne in background.

In October 2008, Huhne led the Liberal-Democrat response to the government's announcement of plans to expand the capacity to collect records of people using electronic communications. The Home Secretary's announcement was in response to warnings by police and the security services that the growing fragmentation and complexity of communications was hindering their tackling of terrorism and organised criminality. But Huhne disagreed with the government's response to the police and security services, saying: "The Government’s Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications are deeply worrying. I hope that this consultation is not just a sham exercise to soft-soap an unsuspecting public.”[63]

In January 2009, Huhne was credited with uncovering an instance of data loss of government information caused by a courier company losing a computer disc containing bank details of up to 2,000 public servants working for the British Council. Huhne blamed the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and the government for the courier company's loss and said that the incident was an example of why the UK should not have identity cards: "This is another instance in a long line of slapdash data protection by government departments. If Whitehall cannot look after its own data records it should not be trusted with the personal information of every citizen as it wants with the identity card scheme."[64]

On 6 November 2007, Huhne made remarks about the Speaker of the House of Commons on the BBC television programme Newsnight in which he claimed that the Speaker, Michael Martin, had fallen asleep during a speech by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "The Speaker unfortunately fell asleep during Gordon Brown's speech ... I'm not sure I'm allowed to say that, but he reacted in an entirely understandable way to what was not the most riveting of parliamentary occasions."[65] After the remarks were repeated in several publications, Huhne made a public apology to the Speaker in the House of Commons on 8 November in which he withdrew his prior comments. "It was wrong of me to draw the Chair into a matter of political dispute. I hope you will accept I intended no personal offence and fully withdraw my comments."[66] In February 2010 Huhne was played by Alan Parnaby in the television film On Expenses.

Controversy[edit]

Huhne was an avid supporter of Professor David Nutt after he was dismissed by Home Secretary Alan Johnson as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in November 2009. Nutt had criticised the government's decision to reclassify cannabis as a Class B drug rather than keeping it as a class C.[67] Huhne said the decision to sack Nutt was "disgraceful" and commented "what is the point of having independent scientific advice if as soon as you get some advice that you don't like, you sack the person who has given it to you?". Attacking the government, he said that if they did not want to take expert scientific advice they might as well have a "committee of tabloid newspaper editors to advise on drugs policy".[68] Cannabis had been re-classified as a class C drug in 2004 by then Home Secretary David Blunkett, only for Jacqui Smith to reverse the ruling in 2008, a decision taken despite official advisers recommending against it.[68]

As part of The Daily Telegraph investigation into expense claims by MPs, Huhne was reported to have claimed for various items including groceries, fluffy dusters and a trouser press. In 2006, he claimed £5,066 for painting work on his garden fences and chairs.[69] He collected £119 for a mahogany Corby trouser press from John Lewis but later said he would repay the cost in order "to avoid controversy". He later claimed on a live Channel 4 news programme that he needed the trouser press to "look smart" for work.[70] Huhne's office running costs during the 2007/2008 financial year were the 206th highest out of 645, his second home claims were 580th highest (or 65th cheapest) out of 645, and his total expense claims were below average, ranking 418th most expensive.[71]

Huhne was one of 16 ministers whose assets were held in a blind trust.[72]

Coalition Government (2010–2012)[edit]

Following the 2010 general election, Huhne became a member of the Liberal Democrats' key negotiating team alongside Danny Alexander, David Laws and Andrew Stunell that brokered the agreement to go into a governing coalition with the Conservatives.[73] Following the negotiations and the formation of a full coalition Huhne was appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the tenth most senior minister in the new government.[4] There had been some speculation that Huhne might be appointed as Home Secretary as he had been the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Home Affairs in the preceding three years although this post went to the Conservative Theresa May. He was appointed as a Privy Counsellor on 13 May 2010.[74]

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change[edit]

A vocal environmentalist, Huhne accepted the role of Secretary of State with the stated intention of making the nation more ecologically conscious. Among his first actions was launching National Wind Week by speaking at an event in London's Leicester Square on 15 June 2010.[75][76] Underscoring his personal commitment to wind power, Huhne erected an 8-foot wind turbine on his constituency home in Eastleigh.[77]

Position on nuclear energy[edit]

In government, Huhne maintained a flexible approach on the subject of nuclear energy advocating the three-pronged portfolio approach to energy: a commitment to nuclear energy; the development of more renewable energy, such as wind and sea power; and new carbon-capture technology to mitigate the damaging environmental effects of fossil fuel-fired power plants and industrial facilities. In an interview with The Observer in March 2011 after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Huhne stated that "there are a lot of issues outside of the realm of nuclear safety, which we will have to assess. One is what the economics of nuclear power post-Fukushima will be, if there is an increase in the cost in capital to nuclear operators."[citation needed] This represents an evolution of his approach to the nuclear issue.[citation needed] In 2007, Huhne was quoted as saying "Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology and the government must stop putting time, effort and subsidies into this outdated industry."[78]

Cancellation of Sheffield Forgemasters loan[edit]

In June 2010, Huhne cancelled an £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters to build power plant components which had been pledged by the preceding Labour government. He was criticised by Labour Shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband who said that the money for the loan had been set aside and would have resulted in at least £110 million returning to the Exchequer. On 1 July 2010, Huhne replied to Miliband saying "The loan to Sheffield Forgemasters was not a commercial loan. If it was a commercial loan it would have been arranged through the banks and not by the government. It was precisely because of the public subsidy element, and the fact that the public subsidy element was not affordable, that the government decided not to proceed with it."[79] The cancellation of the loan was one of a number of projects agreed by the previous Labour government cancelled in an announcement to the House of Commons on 17 June 2010.[80][81][82]

Cancun climate change conference[edit]

On 9 December 2010, Huhne represented the United Kingdom at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The gathering, at which over 190 countries were represented, announced a deal to curb climate change which Prime Minister David Cameron described as a "very significant step forward."[83] The agreement struck in Mexico included a recognition that deeper cuts in carbon emissions were needed and that a fund should be set up to help developing countries reduce their carbon emissions.[83] Huhne described the deal as a "serious package" of measures but acknowledged that there was still more work to do prior to the next climate change meeting in Durban, South Africa, the following year.[83] Following the conference, David Cameron said that his government would be the "greenest ever" and that Britain would meet its international obligations regarding climate change.[83]

Support for AV referendum campaign[edit]

Huhne was an enthusiastic supporter of the AV campaign and attacked anti-AV campaigners such as his cabinet colleague, Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi. "If Baroness Warsi thinks that AV will benefit fascism she has to explain why the BNP wants to stick with what we have and Operation Black Vote supports AV. The BNP know the present system is their only chance of election. This is another example of the increasingly Goebbels-like campaign from the anti-AV people, for whom no lie is too idiotic given the truth is so unpalatable to them. AV makes lazy MPs work harder and reach out beyond their tribe. It is what Britain needs to clean up politics."[84]

Resignation[edit]

On 5 February 2013 Huhne resigned as an MP following his plea of guilty to perverting the course of justice.[9]

Career since Parliament[edit]

Management role[edit]

Huhne has taken up a management post with Zilkha Biomass Energy which Selim Zilkha and his son Michael, a contemporary of Huhne's at Westminster own. Huhne will be responsible for, "growing the business in the European Union".[85]

Writing[edit]

Huhne is a regular contributor for The Guardian newspaper[86]

Personal life[edit]

Huhne married Greek-born economist Vicky Pryce (formerly Chief Economist in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) in 1984 shortly after she divorced her first husband, with whom she had two daughters.[87][88] Huhne and Pryce had three children together.[89] In a video statement made during the 2007 Liberal Democrats leadership election campaign, Huhne described his philosophy about family life: "Relationships, including particularly family relationships, are actually the most important things in making people happy and fulfilled".[90] Talking about his wife to The Independent in 2008 he stated: "I also have a very hard-working and extremely intelligent wife, who manages to earn far more than I do."[20]

In June 2010, Huhne admitted that he had been involved in a relationship with Carina Trimingham and stated that he had decided to leave his wife[91] to be with her. Huhne's wife and children were unaware of his behaviour and plans. Within one week of Huhne's declaration, Pryce filed for divorce on the grounds of Huhne's "admitted adultery". Trimingham had worked on Huhne's campaigns for the Liberal Democrat leadership in 2006 and 2007 and was a paid staff member on his 2010 general-election campaign. She was press officer for Brian Paddick during the 2008 Mayor of London election, and is now campaigns director at the Electoral Reform Society. Huhne was defended by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who said: "What goes on in people's private lives is a subject that fascinates the tabloid press but is irrelevant to the job they are trying to do."[92] Huhne and Pryce divorced in January 2011.[93]

Huhne owns seven houses—five purchased as investments on which he makes money as rental properties[20] and two in which he lives (one in Eastleigh, his former constituency, and a town house in Clapham, South London).[94]

Personal interests[edit]

"Electoral reform" is among the personal interests that Huhne cites on his biography on the official Liberal Democrats website. He describes his other interests as "European single currency, economics, Third World debt and development, Europe".[95]

Huhne is or was a member of the European Movement, Green Lib Dems, Association of Liberal Democrat Trade Unionists and the National Union of Journalists.

Publications and writing interests[edit]

Prior to his careers as a financial journalist, analyst and politician, Huhne wrote four books that are mainly on the themes either of Third-World debt and development or European integration: the latest is entitled Both Sides of the Coin (1999, with James Forder), in which he argues the case for British membership of the euro. The first was Debt and Danger (Penguin Special, 1985), an analysis of the 1984 Third World debt crisis co-written with Lord Lever of Manchester, the former Labour cabinet minister.

He was a contributor to the Orange Book (2004), in which he advocates reforms to the United Nations and international governance. Huhne was critical of the most controversial article in the Orange Book, in which David Laws proposed an insurance-based National Health Service. He did not take part in the successor volume, Britain after Blair and has voiced dismay at the way its predecessor was presented as a break with the party's social liberal traditions. More recently, he contributed to the book The City in Europe and the World (2005) and two articles to Reinventing the State (2007) edited by Duncan Brack, Richard Grayson and David Howarth. These cover the case for localism in which Huhne argues that there is no contradiction between localism and equality, and the need for environmental policy to tackle climate change.

Huhne has also written articles for Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman.[96]

Conviction for perverting the course of justice[edit]

Main article: R v Huhne and Pryce

In May 2011 Huhne's estranged wife Vicky Pryce approached a reporter for the Mail on Sunday with a claim that Huhne had "pressurised people to take his driving licence penalty points" on his behalf in 2003. Huhne denied the allegations of perverting the course of justice, contrary to common law. Essex Police said: "We take allegations such as this one extremely seriously and will take action where necessary."[97]

Essex Police sent initial papers to the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the allegations and Huhne exercised his right to remain silent in response to police questions in May. On 25 June 2011, Essex Police said that a judge at the Crown Court at Chelmsford had granted them a court order to take possession of a recording from The Sunday Times in which the ex-couple apparently discuss the case.[98] It then emerged that Huhne had again been interviewed by police concerning the allegations, and on 28 July the police handed the file to prosecutors.[99][100][101] On 17 August 2011, the Crown Prosecution Service remitted the matter to Essex Police with a direction to investigate the matter further.[102] On 25 August 2011, Essex Police re-submitted their allegations to the CPS. A decision on whether criminal proceedings would be instituted for the alleged offence was expected to be made by the end of September 2011.[103][104]

On 28 October 2011, the Crown Prosecution Service referred the matter to Essex Police for further investigation, having completed a "full review" of the allegations.[105] At a private hearing in October 2011, a judge in the Crown Court at Chelmsford ordered The Sunday Times to produce email messages between Pryce and the newspaper's political editor in relation to the police investigation. On 22 November, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC announced that the CPS was "very close" to deciding whether to prosecute.[106] The reason for the delay was that The Sunday Times was seeking judicial review of the court order the CPS had obtained. The DPP stated "we do not shy away from prosecuting politicians".[107] The judicial review hearing was scheduled for 20 January 2012. On that date The Sunday Times dropped its application for judicial review and said that it would comply with the court order for delivery of the documents.[108]

The emails were delivered to Essex Police, who said there was no need to conduct further interviews.[109]

The DPP announced on 3 February 2012 that both Huhne and Pryce had been charged with perverting the course of justice. Huhne thereupon resigned from the Cabinet.[110] As a result of his resignation, and in accordance with the rules governing severance payments to resigning ministers, Huhne received a tax-free payment of £17,000.[111] Huhne and Pryce appeared before Mr Justice Saunders in the Crown Court at Southwark on 2 March 2012. A trial was timetabled for early October 2012, with the possibility that the case might start earlier. Neither defendant entered a plea and both were granted unconditional bail.[112] At a plea and case management hearing on 1 June 2012, Huhne announced his intention to apply to the court to have the charge dismissed. Pryce entered a plea of not guilty, and would advance a defence at trial of marital coercion: that is, that her then husband coerced her into taking his penalty points. On 5 October 2012, the trial was adjourned until 14 January 2013 for "legal reasons" which were not disclosed. On 28 January 2013, Huhne was arraigned and pleaded "not guilty" to the indictment. A new trial date was set for 4 February 2013.[113]

On 4 February Huhne pleaded guilty on re-arraignment, and was appointed to the Chiltern Hundreds, thus resigning his seat in Parliament and triggering a by-election. He was remanded on unconditional bail until sentencing at a date to be notified.[114]

In February 2013, at the trial of Vicky Pryce it was revealed that Constance Briscoe had been arrested in relation to statements she had made to police that she had not had any involvement with the leaking of the driving licence points-swapping story. Briscoe was arrested on 6 October 2012. No announcement had been made at that time as to the nature of the allegations against her.[115][116][117] Prosecutor Andrew Edis told the jury that Briscoe and Pryce had "started it together by approaching a man called Andrew Alderson (a journalist working for the Mail on Sunday)", falsely claiming that one of Huhne's aides, Jo White, took points for him in 2003. Edis stated that Briscoe was a neighbour and friend of Pryce and that the "two of them appear to have cooked up a plan" to bring about Huhne's downfall.[116][117]

On 11 March 2013, Huhne and Pryce were each sentenced to eight months imprisonment.[10] Huhne started serving his sentence in HM Prison Wandsworth but was reportedly transferred to HM Prison Leyhill.[118] On the day after sentencing, David Burrowes MP wrote to the Attoney-General Dominic Grieve, asking him to exercise his power of referral to the Court of Appeal, as in Burrowes's view the sentences were too lenient. Grieve had until 8 April – 28 days after the original sentence – to decide whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal, which has the power to increase sentences.[119]

Huhne and his ex-wife were released on 13 May 2013, having both served two months of their eight-month sentences.[120] Following their release, both were subject to electronic tagging.[121] Huhne was required to stay in his home between 7 pm and 7 am.[122] He is working in sustainable energy, which has raised concerns that a cosy relationship between ministers (or former ministers) and energy companies may affect renewable energy policy adversely.[123]

See also[edit]

  • Jonathan Aitken – Conservative politician imprisoned for perjury
  • Jeffrey Archer – Conservative politician also imprisoned for perjury
  • Woffles Wu – Singaporean plastic surgeon convicted of an almost identical offence to Huhne

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chris Huhne resigns from Liberal Democrats". ITV. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Rayner, Gordon; Evans, Martin (4 February 2013). "Chris Huhne quits as he faces jail after pleading guilty to perverting course of justice". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2013.  (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Three Hundreds of Chiltern" (Press release). Cabinet Office. 5 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Huhne appointed as Energy and Climate Change Secretary – Politics – Renewable energy news – Recharge – wind, solar, biomass, wave/tidal/hydro and geothermal". Recharge. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Huhne: Speeding story was 'payback' for criticism of Murdoch press". 9 September 2013. BBC. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Chris Huhne". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Chris Huhne quits cabinet over speeding claims charge". BBC News. 3 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Lib Dems: Chris Huhne to voluntarily remove himself from the Privy Council after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice – PA". breakingnews.com. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Chris Huhne officially no longer an MP". BBC News. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce jailed for eight months". BBC News. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "10 O'Clock Live". Channel 4 (UK). Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Sir Menzies wins Lib Dem contest". BBC News. 2 March 2006. Retrieved 19 December 2007. 
  13. ^ a b "MP Huhne stands by Lib Dem leadership election results". Southern Daily Echo. 7 April 2008. 
  14. ^ Steel, Peta (15 December 2010). "Obituary of Ann Murray: Actress and broadcaster whose credits encompass 'The Archers' and 'Star Wars'". The Independent (London). Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c Cheston, Paul (4 February 2013). "Chris Huhne kept buying property as he awaited trial". London Evening Standard. 
  16. ^ Delingpole, James (3 February 2012). "Huhne: you'd need a heart of stone not to laugh". The Telegraph. 
  17. ^ "Profile: Chris Huhne". BBC. 
  18. ^ a b Foggo, Daniel; Waite, Roger (21 October 2007). "LSD article plays tricks on Huhne's mind". The Sunday Times (London). Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2007.  (subscription required)
  19. ^ "How Brazier hosed down the student radicals". Kent News. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2007. [dead link]
  20. ^ a b c d e "Chris Huhne: Smart, ruthless... and very, very ambitious – Profiles". The Independent (London). 14 September 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  21. ^ a b C. Huhne, Real World Economics, Penguin (1990)
  22. ^ "Main page". The Wincott Foundation. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  23. ^ a b c d "New Statesman | Your Democracy – Chris Huhne". New Statesman. n.d. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "Evan Harris: Electoral history". The Guardian. London. n.d. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  25. ^ a b c "Euros 99 | South East". BBC News. 19 January 1999. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "European Election Results 2004". BBC News. 14 June 2004. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c d "Eastleigh constituency profile". The Guardian. London. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  28. ^ "Sharon Bowles profile page". Liberal Democrats. n.d. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  29. ^ "BBC Politics 97 | Review of the year". BBC. 1997. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  30. ^ Matthew Tempest (13 January 2006). "Huhne stands on green platform". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  31. ^ "You ask the questions: Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat leadership contender". The Independent (London). 22 October 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007. 
  32. ^ Branigan, Tania (25 February 2006). "Survey boosts Huhne's hopes". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 December 2007. 
  33. ^ Rosenstiel, Colin. "All-member ballot results". Retrieved 24 April 2006. [dead link]
  34. ^ "Campbell fills top Lib Dem posts". BBC News. 6 March 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  35. ^ a b c Adams, Guy (27 February 2006). "Pandora: It gets dirtier: Huhne's private interests targeted". The Independent (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007. [dead link]
  36. ^ TheyWorkForYou.com Listing of MP interests
  37. ^ Hope, Christopher; Carlin, Brendan (28 February 2006). "Huhne shares revealed". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007.  (subscription required)
  38. ^ Huhne, Chris (19 September 2006). "Summation speech from Tax Debate". Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  39. ^ Huhne, Chris (9 May 2006). "Climate Change and the Challenge for Business". Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  40. ^ Huhne, Chris (27 April 2007). "Blue won't be green". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  41. ^ Temko, Ned (3 September 2006). "Critics of Israel 'fuelling hatred of British Jews'". The Observer (London). Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  42. ^ Daley, Janet (12 March 2007). "Green lobby must not stifle the debate". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 21 November 2007.  (subscription required)
  43. ^ Dale, Iain (12 March 2007). "Chris Huhne – The Mary Whitehouse of the Climate Change debate". Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  44. ^ "Chris Huhne MP: a clarification". The Daily Telegraph (London). 26 March 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2007.  (subscription required)
  45. ^ Summers, Deborah; Taylor, Ros (19 September 2007). "Clegg admits leadership ambitions". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  46. ^ a b c "Huhne launches leadership battle". BBC News. 17 October 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  47. ^ Branigan, Tania (1 November 2007). "Huhne woos the left as Lib Dem leadership nominations close". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 December 2007. 
  48. ^ "Clegg MPs' favourite for Lib Dem leadership". Wales Online. 28 October 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  49. ^ Prince, Rosa (17 December 2007). "Chris Huhne prepares for a surprise win". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 19 December 2007.  (subscription required)
  50. ^ Prince, Rosa (19 December 2007). "Nick Clegg narrowly wins Lib Dem leadership". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 19 December 2007.  (subscription required)
  51. ^ Merrick, Jane (6 April 2008). "Meet the real leader of the Liberal Democrats". The Independent on Sunday (London). 
  52. ^ "Clegg reveals his frontbench team". BBC News. 20 December 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007. 
  53. ^ Shaikh, Thair (19 November 2007). "Clegg complains as Lib Dem leadership race turns ugly – UK Politics, UK". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  54. ^ Wintour, Patrick (18 November 2007). "Lib Dem leadership contest turns nasty in TV studio clash". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 September 2010. 
  55. ^ "Lib Dem sorry for 'calamity' slur". BBC News. 18 November 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  56. ^ "Politics Show | Huhne and Clegg interview transcript". BBC. 18 November 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  57. ^ Grice, Andrew (20 November 2007). "Clegg accuses Huhne of testing voters' patience". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  58. ^ "Calamity Clegg". YouTube. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  59. ^ Truscott, Claire (19 November 2007). "Lib Dems considering action against Huhne over 'Calamity Clegg' claims". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  60. ^ Brown, Colin (21 November 2007). "Huhne denies he was responsible for 'Calamity Clegg' campaign document". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  61. ^ Muir, Hugh (22 June 2010). "Hugh Muir's diary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  62. ^ "In praise of... Chris Huhne". The Guardian (London). 22 June 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  63. ^ Ahmed, Murad; Ford, Richard (15 October 2008). "Government plans massive expansion in tracking calls, e-mail and internet visits". The Times (London). Retrieved 12 September 2010.  (subscription required)
  64. ^ Haynes, Deborah (25 January 2009). "Loss of British Council staff data disk stings David Miliband". The Times (London). Retrieved 12 September 2010.  (subscription required)
  65. ^ Walden, Celia (9 November 2007). "Spy". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007. [dead link]
  66. ^ Rifkind, Hugo (9 November 2007). "ACTUAL ARTICLE TITLE BELONGS HERE!". The Times (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007.  (subscription required)
  67. ^ "Fallout from sacking the scientist". The Daily Politics. BBC. 2 November 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  68. ^ a b "Cannabis row drug advisor sacked". BBC News. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  69. ^ Rayner, Gordon (13 May 2009). "Chris Huhne, a multi-millionaire but you buy his chocolate HobNobs: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 February 2012.  (subscription required)
  70. ^ "British politics stares into the abyss". Channel 4 News. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  71. ^ "Christopher Huhne MP, Eastleigh". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  72. ^ Curtis, Polly (1 February 2011). "More ministers benefiting from blind trusts". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 October 2010. 
  73. ^ Haroon Siddique, Profiles: The Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour negotiators, The Guardian, 11 May 2010
  74. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 13 May 2010". Privy Council. Retrieved 26 July 2010. [dead link]
  75. ^ "Video: Chris Huhne says UK can be net energy exporter". Recharge. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  76. ^ "Chris Huhne at Wind Week in Leicester Square". YouTube. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  77. ^ Semple, Chris (21 October 2007). "Is this the man to save our planet?". Southern Daily Echo (Southampton). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  78. ^ Helm, Toby (19 March 2011). "Chris Huhne: Nuclear power might not be an option for UK". The Guardian (London). 
  79. ^ "Huhne faces criticism for cancelling nuclear power loan". BBC News. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  80. ^ "Coalition government axes £2bn of projects". BBC News. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  81. ^ Porter, Andrew (17 June 2010). "Transport and health projects halted as Government backs down on £10bn commitments". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 3 February 2012.  (subscription required)
  82. ^ "Government axes Labour's 'breathtakingly cynical' £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters". Yorkshire Post (Leeds). 17 June 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  83. ^ a b c d "David Cameron praises new climate deal". BBC News. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  84. ^ Wintour, Patrick (30 March 2011). "Chris Huhne accuses cabinet colleague of Nazi tactics over AV referendum". The Guardian (London). 
  85. ^ Chris Huhne appointed to senior role with US energy firm
  86. ^ [1]
  87. ^ Temko, Ned (12 February 2006). "The woman who backs Chris Huhne". The Observer (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  88. ^ Yeoman, Fran (20 October 2007). "Lib Dem wives: Can you spot the difference?". The Times (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007.  (subscription required)
  89. ^ "Profile: Chris Huhne". BBC News. 2 March 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  90. ^ "Chris Huhne: Involvement of fathers?". YouTube. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  91. ^ "About Chris". Chris Huhne. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  92. ^ Edwards, Richard (21 June 2010). "Chris Huhne avoids TV appearance after admitting affair". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2 September 2010.  (subscription required)
  93. ^ "Sunday Times drops Chris Huhne emails legal challenge". BBC News. 20 January 2012.
  94. ^ Brown, Colin; Russell, Ben (18 October 2007). "Huhne: 'We must be radical but rational – you won't see me streaking down the street'". The Independent (London). Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  95. ^ "Our MPs in Detail". The Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  96. ^ "Register of Members' Interests: Christopher Huhne MP, Eastleigh". TheyWorkForYou.com. Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  97. ^ "Police to decide whether to probe Huhne speeding claim". BBC News. 15 May 2011. 
  98. ^ "Police demand Huhne 'speeding tape'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 25 June 2011. (subscription required)
  99. ^ "Chris Huhne questioned again by police over speeding allegation". The Guardian (London). 22 July 2011.
  100. ^ "Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce in second police interviews". BBC News. 22 July 2011.
  101. ^ Morris, Nigel (28 July 2011). "Police hand Chris Huhne 'speeding file' to prosecutors". The Independent (London).
  102. ^ Watt, Holly; Hughes, Mark (17 August 2011). "Police asked to reinvestigate Chris Huhne". The Daily Telegraph (London). (subscription required)
  103. ^ "Essex Police send Chris Huhne speeding case file to CPS". BBC News. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  104. ^ Hughes, Mark (6 September 2011). "Huhne to learn speeding points fate 'this month'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 February 2012.  (subscription required)
  105. ^ Hughes, Mark (28 October 2011). "Police demand emails in Chris Huhne speeding points case". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 February 2012.  (subscription required)
  106. ^ "Chris Huhne speeding claim case decision 'very close'". BBC News. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  107. ^ Starmer, Keir (23 November 2011). "Letter to the Daily Mail from CPS about the Chris Huhne case". Crown Prosecution Service blog.
  108. ^ "Sunday Times drops Chris Huhne emails legal challenge". BBC News. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  109. ^ Hughes, Mark (25 January 2012). "Chris Huhne 'speeding ticket' emails received by Essex Police". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 February 2012.  (subscription required)
  110. ^ "Chris Huhne quits cabinet over speeding points charge". BBC News. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  111. ^ "Ex-minister Chris Huhne getting £17,000 cabinet pay-off". BBC News. 29 February 2012. 
  112. ^ "Chris Huhne trial set for October". BBC News. 2 March 2012. 
  113. ^ "Chris Huhne speeding trial date set". BBC News. 28 January 2013.
  114. ^ "Chris Huhne admits perverting the course of justice over speeding points". The Guardian (London). 4 February 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  115. ^ Branagh, Ellen (26 February 2013). "Top female barrister Constance Briscoe investigated over leaking Chris Huhne case, court told". The Independent (London). Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  116. ^ a b Marsden, Sam; Rayner, Gordon; Philipson, Alice (26 February 2013). "Judge Constance Briscoe arrested for 'lying to police' about role in exposing Chris Huhne". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 February 2013.  (subscription required)
  117. ^ a b Davies, Caroline (26 February 2013). "Vicky Pryce trial: judge arrested on suspicion of lying to police". The Guardian (London). 
  118. ^ Chris Huhne 'moved to open prison' after a week in Wandsworth
  119. ^ "David Burrowes's letter to the Attorney General". The Daily Telegraph (London). 13 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.  (subscription required)
  120. ^ "Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne released from prison". BBC News. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  121. ^ Grice, Andrew (13 May 2013). "Nine weeks is a long time in politics: Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne released from prison but what does the future hold for them?". The Independent (London). 
  122. ^ Street-Porter, Janet (19 May 2013). "Eight weeks in prison does not make Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce instant experts". The Independent on Sunday (London). 
  123. ^ Chris Huhne’s new job sheds light on cosy relationship between DECC and energy companiesChris Huhne gets job with US energy firm

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for South East England

1999–2005
Succeeded by
Sharon Bowles
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Chidgey
Member of Parliament
for Eastleigh

2005–2013
Succeeded by
Mike Thornton
Political offices
Preceded by
Ed Miliband
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Ed Davey