UK Cabinet minister resigns over speeding case

British politician Chris Huhne will face criminal charges of perverting the course of justice.

Story highlights

  • Ed Davey replaces Chris Huhne as Energy Secretary in the coalition government
  • Huhne and his ex-wife are accused of perverting the course of justice
  • Huhne denies wrongdoing, says he will prove his innocence in court
  • His ex-wife is accused of accepting speeding offenses on his behalf in 2003
A British Cabinet minister said Friday he is resigning after authorities announced he faces charges in connection with a speeding offense he allegedly blamed on his ex-wife.
Both Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne and his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, will be charged, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in a televised statement.
The Liberal Democrat member of the coalition government said he would resign from his Cabinet post to defend the case in court.
Huhne told reporters it was "deeply regrettable" that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to bring charges of perverting the course of justice .
"I'm innocent of these charges," he said. "I intend to fight this in the courts and I'm confident the jury will agree."
Huhne said he was stepping down as energy secretary in order to avoid any distraction from the department's work, although he will continue to represent his constituents in parliament.
Liberal Democrat lawmaker Ed Davey is to take over as energy secretary.
Huhne has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.
Essex Police referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service in July last year after investigating a complaint made in May.
"We have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against both ... for perverting the course of justice," Starmer said.
Between March and May 2003, Huhne "having allegedly committed a speeding offense, falsely informed the authorities that Pryce was the driver in question, and she falsely accepted that she was the driver," Starmer said.
A court appearance is scheduled for February 16 in London.
The offense of perverting the course of justice carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and/or a fine.
Huhne has been the member of Parliament for the Eastleigh constituency in Hampshire since 2005, and was a member of the European Parliament for the same area for the six years before that, according to his government department's website.
Before entering politics, Huhne worked as a financial and economic journalist for nearly two decades.