Eastleigh residents will be heaving a sigh of relief with the news that Chris Huhne, Eastleigh’s popular MP, will still be available to switch on the Town’s Christmas lights next month after a judge postponed his trial on charges of perverting the course of justice which were due to start this week.
Huhne along with his former wife Vicky Pryce are accused of dodging speeding penalty points – charges he has strongly denied.
He resigned his cabinet post as Energy Secretary in February in order to defend himself and on Monday it is understood his lawyers attempted to get the case dismissed.
After a week of legal arguments it has been decided by Justice Sweeny to postpone the trial to January 14 for legal reasons, but Eastleigh News cannot report on the nature of these legal reasons due to legal reasons.
The news will frustrate local opposition parties who have been gearing up for a possible by-election in case Huhne was found guilty and was forced to stand down as MP.
One local Conservative insider recently told Eastleigh News confidentially they thought “It will all be over for Huhne in a couple of weeks” and last Saturday saw campaigning activity in the town centre from Labour, Conservative and Ukip party activists– there have also been visits recently from the green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Tory big hitter and MEP Dan Hannan.
A postponement will give Ukip more time to consider whether or not to stand their leader Nigel Farage in a possible contest – a move which is seen as a threat to Conservative chances in what is a marginal seat.
Should the trial go against Huhne in the New Year and he is forced to stand down, a by-election May would be a strong possibility.
Huhne who usually comfortable in the media spotlight, has kept a low a low profile since his resignation to the extent that he did not even appear in a list compiled by The Daily Telegraph of top 50 most influential Liberal Democrats – in past years he has been in the top five.
Despite being overlooked by his party and being written off by his rivals Mr Huhne has said by the New Statesman to believe he can “lead the Liberal democrats into a coalition government with labour” and online bookmaker Betfair still quote him at 4-1 as the next party leader.