Clegg plots speedy return for Laws – but is Huhne running out of road fast?

Minister to find out if he faces charges over allegations he dodged speeding penalty

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The Independent Online

Chris Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, will finally learn this morning whether he and his ex-wife will face criminal charges over allegations he asked her to take speeding points on his behalf.

Mr Huhne, the MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire, says the allegations are "simply incorrect" and has welcomed the investigation as an opportunity to "draw a line under the matter".

Essex Police have been examining the allegations against Mr Huhne, dating back to 2003, for several months.

The Sunday Times recently handed over details of emails relating to the case to the police.

After an eight-month police investigation, Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, will announce Mr Huhne's fate in a rare televised statement at 10am. Mr Huhne's former wife, economist Vicky Pryce, is also set to learn whether she will be charged. The potential offences could include attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Should Mr Huhne be charged, he will come under intense pressure to step down from his Cabinet post.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Business minister, has been lined up to succeed Mr Huhne in the Cabinet if he is forced to resign.

Previously, Mr Huhne has refused to speculate on whether or not he will stand down should he face charges, and the ministerial code does not state explicitly that he would be forced to. Last month, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that a minister being charged would be a "very serious issue", and insisted that the Coalition is determined to uphold the "highest standards of probity".

Mr Clegg and Mr Huhne are due to be attending a two-day strategy and bonding session with other Lib Dem ministers in Eastbourne today.

In an interview with Parliament’s The House magazine, the Lib Dem leader has made it clear that he would like David Laws, who resigned as Treasury Chief Secretary just 17 days after the 2010 election over his parliamentary expenses claims, to return as an "enforcer" and policy co-ordinator, perhaps as a Cabinet Office minister without full Cabinet status.

"David is not after status," Mr Clegg told the magazine. "What I would like to see David do is to be close to the centre of power in one shape or form with, ideally, quite a broad view of government policy, because he’s got an ability to see the connections between policies, which is quite unusual."

A former City banker, Mr Laws succeeded Lord Ashdown as MP for Yeovil in 2001.

Mr Huhne is facing claims that he asked someone to take his penalty points for a speeding offence in 2003, thus avoiding a driving ban, when he was a member of the European Parliament.

Essex Police have twice interviewed Mr Huhne and Ms Pryce. The couple divorced in 2011.