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UK Energy Minister Chris Huhne resigns over perversion of justice charges

Huhne’s ex-wife, Vicky Price, is also to be prosecuted over allegations that she accepted speeding points on his behalf in March 2003.

Chris huhne 2012 02 03 0Enlarge
Mr Huhne, a Liberal Democrat MP for the south-east England town of Eastleigh, insisted he was innocent and would fight the charges in the courts, but said he was standing down to “avoid distraction to either my official duties or my trial defence.” (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

LONDON, UK – Britain’s Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has resigned after learning he is to face charges of perverting the course of justice over a speeding case.

The offence carries a maximum life sentence.

Huhne’s ex-wife, Vicky Price, is also to be prosecuted over allegations that she accepted speeding points on his behalf in March 2003, the Guardian reported.

Mr Huhne, a Liberal Democrat MP for the south-eastern English town of Eastleigh, insisted he was innocent and would fight the charges in the courts, but said he was standing down to “avoid distraction to either my official duties or my trial defence.”

Earlier this morning, Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer had announced that there “was sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against both Mr Huhne and Ms Pryce for perverting the course of justice.”

“The essence of the charges is that between March and May 2003, Mr Huhne, having allegedly committed a speeding offence, falsely informed the investigating authorities that Ms Pryce had been the driver of the vehicle in question, and she falsely accepted that she was the driver,” he said, according to the BBC.

Huhne’s resignation followed less than an hour later. It will trigger an urgent cabinet reshuffle, and is the second time a Liberal Democrat minister has been forced to stand down since the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010.

Police have been investigating claims against the MP for eight months. No other Cabinet minister in recent times has faced the possibility of such a serious criminal charge, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Huhne and Pryce, who divorced at the start of 2011, are due to appear in court on February 16.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120203/uk-energy-minister-chris-huhne-resigns