Eastleigh’s MP Chris Huhne was said to be ‘fighting for his political life’ this morning as the Sunday Times published details of a secretly recorded phone conversation in which it appears Mr Huhne advises the person alleged to have taken a driving conviction on his behalf not to talk to the press.
The Cabinet minister is alleged to have said.
“If I were you … do not talk. I would have thought you would not want to talk."
In the tape he advises the witness – named by some newspapers as his former wife Vicki Pryce – to dodge reporters by claiming the phone line is bad.
Mr Huhne is reported as having said:
“There is no way, that there is any evidence for this story, unless you decide to give some legs to it by saying something. Okay?”
'The story they are trying to stand up is that "Cabinet Minister persuaded XXX to take points". The only way they can stand that up is by getting you to talk to them”
Labour MP Simon Danczuk has made a complaint to the Police who are said to be investigating and he called on Mr Huhne to stand down from the cabinet:
“Since the allegations are about serious criminal behaviour, I think it is only right that Mr Huhne stands aside from his position in the cabinet while the investigation is conducted.”
A lawyer told The Times that someone with previous good character who was found guilty of perverting the course of justice by passing penalty points on to another driver could expect a jail term of between three to six months
According to the mail on Sunday the tape also contains a firm denial of the allegations by Mr Huhne and his press officer Joel Kenrick has issued denials on his behalf.
There are also reports that the besieged Climate Change secretary has hired a top defamation lawyer from posh lawyers Mishcon de Reya which indicates Mr Huhne may fight to clear his name – although he might have to resign from the cabinet in order to do so.
Since the Sunday Times first published Ms Pryce’s allegations last week there has been intense media speculation that Mr Huhne could be resigning and he became the bookies favourite to be the next minister to exit the cabinet.
Writing in Eastleigh News, John Milne – the Conservative Party Chairman for Eastleigh- speculated that Mr Huhne was only waiting for his first anniversary as a secretary of state to pass before resigning as this would enable him to leave with a ministerial pension.
As Energy Secretary, Mr Huhne is scheduled to speak at local meeting organised by Eastleigh social housing provider Radian, this Wednesday.