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article imageBaby, you can drive my car

By Alexander Baron     May 22, 2011 in Politics
An article concerning the targetting of government minister Chris Huhne re allegations that eight years ago he perverted the course of justice in relation to a trivial driving offence.
In May 1971, the flamboyant Conservative MP Sir Gerald Nabarro was embroiled in controversy over what under other circumstances would have been a relatively trivial criminal misdemeanour. He and his secretary were in a car which drove the wrong way round a roundabout. Although potentially extremely dangerous, this is not the sort of offence any sane driver would commit intentionally, nor was there any suggestion that alcohol or drugs played a part. What landed Sir Gerald in hot water more than the actual offence was the claim by himself and Mrs Margaret Mason that she rather than he had been behind the wheel.
Sir Gerald was convicted of dangerous driving, and fined £250, but was cleared after an appeal and a retrial. Now, forty years on, another Conservative MP is facing a similar allegation, namely that he claimed someone else – his (now) ex-wife – was driving the car in question when it was caught speeding. This incident happened eight years ago, which means that it is well outside the statute of limitations for such a trivial offence. There are though no such limitations for offences such as perjury and perverting the course of justice, which is what this MP’s detractors are accusing him of committing. Furthermore, Chris Huhne is no mere backbencher, but a Minister, and, far, far worse, although his principal accuser might be dismissed as a woman scorned, the tabloids have got their teeth into the story, and into him, and they will not let go until either he has been cleared by a police investigation, or more likely, guilty or innocent, has been driven (no pun intended) from office. The British tabloids have a habit of this sort of thing; the important politicians they have literally hounded to the point of resignation include Home Secretary David Blunkett; Transport Secretary Stephen Byers; and Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, David Mellor.
Chris Huhne is a wealthy man, he made his money in the City before entering politics, married in 1984, and in 2003 was convicted of using a mobile phone while driving, an offence that led to him being banned for three months. There is though no suggestion that he was driving while banned.
In an interview with ITN News last week, Huhne said the speeding allegations had been made before and had been shown to be untrue. It seems though that the unremitting pressure of a certain newspaper in particular and of at least one of his political enemies has paid off. Huhne appears to have been targeted for a number of reasons, one of which is that he is perceived in certain quarters as a hypocrite for publicly parading his “family values” during the last election campaign while he was at the same time betraying his wife with a younger woman – the reason he is now a divorcee.
Regardless of the motivations of his detractors, within the next week we should know if there will be a formal police investigation. To date, Huhne has been publicly backed by both Coalition Government leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
Whether or not that support continues and whatever the outcome of any future police investigation, he is unlikely to face the same fate as the eminent Australian judge Marcus Einfeld, who was disbarred and sentenced to three years in prison after being clocked at 6mph over the speed limit, but that’s another story.
More about Chris huhne, Sir Gerald Nabarro, Driving, Speeding, Marcus Einfeld
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