Chris Huhne is probably going to jail. That was originally to read “Chris Huhne is in jail”, but then the jury in the case involving his ex-wife was dismissed. I don’t blame the jury, I’m pretty confused by this sorry tale too. Once again Chris Huhne is where he hasn’t wanted to be in a while, attached in some way to his ex-wife. Ever since the former Liberal Democrat MP and high-ranking member of the government was found out, one thing has led to another, etcetera and so-on, until an all-but inevitable prison sentence finished his side of the story.
He had an affair. His wife found out. His wife decided to gain high profile revenge. This high profile revenge has worked up to this point. Huhne’s life appears in ruin, for at the least the next couple of years. The final chapter has been extended, however, as Vicky Pryce (nee Huhne) waits to hear if her gamble fully works out.
This gamble centers around coming clean over driving license points. The kind you pick up for speeding. I am, unlike some of my family and friends, no expert in this matter. However, from long conversations with said family and friends over “speed cameras are just cash-cows”, “stupid police speed guns” and “the speed limit should never be that low anyway” I’ve figured out that for most speeding offenses you get three points (and an increased insurance premium), unless you’re willing to be patronised in an office by speed awareness officials. If you reach 12 points for get a ban. Chris Huhne “couldn’t afford to be banned” so his wife said she was driving on that now infamous night in March, 2003. No problem here, I know people who’ve lied about a driver’s identity. They were found out within days due to a clear image of them at the wheel and given the opportunity to change their statement. They did. No harm done. The Huhnes got away with it for nine years, now there is a lot of harm done.
Huhne has already enter a guilty plea, but Pryce insists she is innocent, and that her ex-husband forced her into taking responsibility for the driving offense. She’s gone as far as saying her husband filled out the police form with her name on it without telling her. She is using the marital coercion defense, after finishing off her husband’s political career by telling all to The Sunday Times following the couple’s divorce in 2010. If her gamble is to work completely, her legal team will have to convince a second jury she is innocent. The first trial wound up last week after the jury couldn’t agree. The re-trial started on Monday.
The sheer number of angles to this case make it much more than your run of the mill “perverting the course of justice” story. Just when you think the strands are all pulled out, new ones appear. The re-trial is the latest, but the most important since the case started is the affect on the coalition government.
Huhne’s resignation from government is one thing, but having to step down as an MP means a by-election in his Eastleigh constituency. This pits the coalition against itself, along with the opposition and marginal parties looking to make very public mid-term gains in the full glare of a very public scandal. This quirky strand of British political theater takes place tomorrow. One can only guess where Chris Huhne will be.