Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne appeared in court in Reading yesterday in a pre-trial hearing over the allegation that he perverted the course of justice.
The ex Cabinet Minister is charged with the offence along with ex-wife Vicky Pryce over allegations that he persuaded her to take his penalty points for a speeding offence in Essex in 2003 – although Ms Pryce did not attend court today.
The pre trial hearings have taken place under reporting restrictions.
Despite the prospect of the trial looming large Mr Huhne – who has strongly maintained his innocence throughout – has been taking a full part in constituency life.
The former Energy Secretary’s most recent public appearance was on the town bandstand a fortnight ago to help throw the switch on the new £30,000 Christmas lights and spectacular firework display.
A record low turnout crowd braved torrential rain to see Mr. Huhne take part in a parade around the towns streets before climbing the bandstand stairs to give one of his trade mark ‘thumbs up’ gestures complete with ’power smile’ as he posed for the echo photographer alongside Santa and teenage Paralympian David Knott.
The trial is due to take place on January 14 at Southwark Crown Court in London and both Labour and Conservatives have been fiercely canvassing in the constituency in case a guilty verdict triggers a by-election.
Conservatives were out in force over the weekend with party workers being bussed in from neighbouring counties.
The only party not out on the doorsteps are the Lib Dems themselves who are standing by their man…although this would leave them with a lot of ground to make up should the ‘unthinkable’ happen.
Despite this show of resolute support Eastleigh News has heard that West End Councillor David Goodall has been tipped as a possible replacement Lib Dem PPC.
Cllr Goodall impressed in the recent Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. Although the post went to independent Simon Hughes, Goodall topped the poll comfortably in Eastleigh.