16 May 2011

Chris Huhne has David Cameron’s ‘full confidence’

Liberal Democrat minister Chris Huhne denies allegations over speeding offences and has Prime Minister David Cameron’s full confidence, Downing Street confirms.

David Cameron‘s support for embattled energy secretary Chris Huhne came as Essex police consider launching a full investigation into the claims, following a formal complaint from the Labour MP Simon Danczuk.

In a statement, Mr Huhne said: “All I want to say is simply that these allegations are simply incorrect. They have been made before and they have been shown to be untrue.

“And I very much welcome the referral to the police as it will draw a line under the matter… I don’t want to any more than that. I think the police can get to the bottom of this.”

Claims emerged last week that the Liberal Democrat dodged a driving ban in 2003 by asking another person to shoulder his penalty points for speeding.

Mr Huhne’s estranged wife Vicky Pryce was named in newspaper reports as the person who accepted the points.

All I want to say is simply that these allegations are simply incorrect. Chris Huhne

However, Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “Chris Huhne denies all the allegations.”

The spokesman added that Mr Huhne had the PM’s full confidence, and brushed off fears surrounding the future of Mr Huhne’s Cabinet position.

Mr Huhne may retain his position regardless of whether the police launch a full investigation, despite calls from Labour MPs for the energy secretary to stand down.

“It has certainly happened in the past,” the spokesman said.

The alleged incident took place when Mr Huhne was an MEP, before being elected Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh.

He was said to have been facing a driving ban if he clocked up any more points, which would have hampered his mobility on the campaign trail.
Ms Pryce was previously quoted by The Sunday Times as saying Mr Huhne had asked somebody else to accept the penalty points on his behalf, adding that he did drive “a bit like a maniac”.

Over the weekend, further details surfaced of a telephone conversation between Mr Huhne and another person apparently discussing the case.

Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has the Prime Minister David Cameron's 'full confidence' Downing Street said today (Image: Getty)

Press reports today said the other person was Ms Pryce, whom Mr Huhne left last year after beginning an affair with public relations officer Carina Trimingham.

Mr Huhne is quoted as saying: “If I were you … do not talk. I would have thought you would not want to talk.”

He is then quoted as saying: “There is no evidence for this story unless you give it some legs by saying something. The last thing you want is a half-baked story saying you’ve taken points for me.

“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. There is simply no other person who could possibly tell them whether it is true or not.”

Towards the end of the 13-minute conversation, he is quoted as saying: “There’s no question of it coming out, because it’s simply not true, that’s it.”
The other person is said to have replied: “I’m sorry, what? Why are you suddenly saying that?”

Mr Huhne is reported to have said it was not “sensible to have these sorts of conversations on the phone”.

Detective Superintendent Tim Wills, who has been appointed by Essex Police to consider the complaint against Mr Huhne, said an investigation would not be formally launched “until our inquiries show that an offence has been committed”.

“This is the work that my team and I will be carrying out this week,” he said.