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Ex-UK minister faces jail after admitting to perverting course of justice

Chris Huhne made a last minute plea change in court this morning, admitted to perverting the court of justice over a speeding case ten years ago.

Chris Huhne outside Southwark Crown Court in London today
Chris Huhne outside Southwark Crown Court in London today
Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FORMER BRITISH CABINET Minister Chris Huhne faces prison after he admitted to perverting the course of justice over a speeding case ten years ago at a court hearing in London today.

The Liberal Democrat MP says he will resign his constituency seat in Eastleigh after changing his plea to guilty at the last minute. He left court on unconditional bail earlier today.

The case concerns allegations dating back to 2003 when Huhne is said to have persuaded his then wife, economist Vicky Pryce, to take speeding penalty points in order for him to avoid prosecution.

This followed an incident in March of that year when Huhne’s car was allegedly to have been caught by a speed camera as he travelled between Stansted Airport and London city centre.

It was alleged that Pryce had informed police she was driving he car at the time. Pryce faces a separate court hearing, pleading not guilty on the grounds of marital coercion. Her case is due to be heard tomorrow.

The allegations emerged in 2011 after Huhne’s 26-year marriage to Pryce ended when he admitted an affair with public relations advisor Carina Trimingham, who was in the public gallery in court today.

It was not immediately clear if the trial of Pryce, a Greek-born economist who frequently commentates in the media, could go ahead.

Huhne, 58, who was the UK’s energy secretary until resigning that post in February last year, had originally pleaded not guilty at a hearing last week and had vowed to fight the charges when he resigned from David Cameron’s cabinet.

The case almost certainly ends Huhne’s political career.

The former journalist’s resignation will also trigger a by-election in his Eastleigh constituency, a poll likely to be fought out between the two parties in coalition, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

- with reporting from AFP

Watch: UK minister resigns after being charged over speeding offences

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Hugh O'Connell

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