Huhne 'welcomes' police inquiry but pressure rises in speeding scandal

Labour calls for Energy Secretary to appear in House / Cameron's support deemed lukewarm

The pressure on Chris Huhne will increase today as Labour accuses him of trying to duck MPs' questions on the Government's strategy for cutting Britain's carbon emissions. The Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary is fighting to save his Cabinet career after allegations that he allowed another motorist to take points on their licence for a speeding offence he committed in 2003.



His former wife, Vicky Pryce, has claimed that he "pressurised people" to take on the points in order to avoid a driving ban – which, if proved, could result in a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Yesterday Mr Huhne put a brave face on the initial inquiries being made by Essex police into the affair. "These allegations are incorrect. They have been made before and found to be untrue and I very much welcome the referral to the police as it will draw a line under the matter," he told the BBC.

Nevertheless, his difficulties mounted amid suggestions it would have been difficult for his wife to have been the driver caught speeding because, according to a newspaper report, on the night the offence was committed she was in central London at 6.30 when she addressed the London School of Economics and went on to attend a dinner which finished after 10pm. Mr Huhne's flight was thought to have been scheduled to land at 10.23 in Stansted.

Labour accused the minister of trying to keep out of the spotlight by smuggling out his crucial statement on carbon budgets in a written Commons answer today. The Opposition will lodge a formal request with the Speaker John Bercow for an oral statement.

Any suggestion that Mr Huhne is not carrying out his Cabinet post as normal could undermine his position. Meg Hillier, the shadow Energy Secretary, said last night: "I am demanding that Chris Huhne comes to the House in person to make his announcement and answer to MPs. The fourth carbon budget will have a massive impact on British households, jobs and firms. It beggars belief that he is considering slipping out the announcement as a written statement."

Ironically, Mr Huhne's announcement is seen as "good news" for him to trumpet after he won a Cabinet battle against the Chancellor George Osborne and the Business Secretary Vince Cable, who were worried about the impact on business of his radical plan to make Britain a world leader in cutting emissions. The blueprint, detailing cuts up to 2027, will put the nation on track to reduce emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050. However, Mr Osborne and Mr Cable have won a review clause under which there could be a rethink of the UK's targets if other European Union countries do not make similar commitments to combat global warming.

Yesterday David Cameron and Nick Clegg gave Mr Huhne their backing. Asked whether or not he had confidence in Mr Huhne, the Prime Minister said: "He denied the allegations." His spokesman said Mr Cameron still had "full confidence" in Mr Huhne, while allies of Mr Clegg said he worked on the premise that people were "innocent until proved guilty".

That could mean him being allowed to keep his job even if the police get involved. Mr Clegg would have to be consulted before Mr Cameron sacked any Liberal Democrat minister. Insiders believe that there are two options – Mr Huhne riding out the storm or deciding that his position is untenable and resigning.

Detective Superintendent Tim Wills of Essex Police said: "We take any allegations of criminal offences extremely seriously. However, an investigation will not be formally launched until our enquiries show that an offence has been committed. This is the work that my team and I will be carrying out this week."

Taking points: the crime many commit

* Statistics, anecdotal evidence and bitter experience of human nature all point to there being almost industrial numbers of people willing to take someone else's driving penalty points. Analysis by the AA of the number of people with points on their licences shows some 583,000 drivers who have six to their name. Yet the number with nine points falls away to 91,000 and only 30,000 are banned with 12 or more points. While there is a temptation to think the safety, financial and moral lessons have sunk in, explaining why so few go on to collect nine, the AA suspects the truth is that many people elect to commit fraud by persuading another driver to take the rap.

* "The fact we have more than six-times as many on six as nine would suggest some of them get other people to take their points," said Edmund King, AA President. "Some of them may have learnt their lesson and slowed down, but the fact the jump down from six to nine is so great, one can surmise not all of them do."

* While there are comparatively few cases where a driver and accomplice have been charged and convicted, partly as most cases are thought to be kept in the family, there was a scam in which students offered to take points for a fee of £150.

However, the latest generation of speed cameras increases the chances of cheating drivers being found out.

Old-style cameras mostly recorded the rear of the car, but newer versions face the front and take pictures in enough detail that police can distinguish between male and female, black and white, balding and full-haired.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Accounts Assistant - Sales Ledger, Sage Line 50 - St Albans

£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...

EBD Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Part Time SEN 1:1 Teacher

£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?