John Edwards faces trial over '$1m spent to hide affair'

  • @guyadams

Five years after his presidential campaign was derailed by scandalous revelations that he had fathered an illegitimate child with a former member of staff, John Edwards will face a jury this morning which will decide whether alleged murky efforts to cover up the affair should land him in prison.

The disgraced former US Senator will appear in court in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the start of a six-week trial in which he is accused of illegally using almost $1m in unreported campaign funds in a fruitless attempt to keep his mistress, Rielle Hunter, out of the public eye.

Prosecutors claim that the sum of $925,000 (£578,000) was provided by two wealthy donors for the purpose of preventing voters learning that the would-be president had cheated on his late, cancer-ridden wife Elizabeth. The money was not reported to electoral authorities.

Mr Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison if jurors come to the conclusion that this breached campaign finance laws. He claims the payments were not political donations but were instead "private gifts" aimed at helping solve a delicate personal problem.

A key witness will be Andrew Young, a former member of staff who says that when reports of the extra-marital affair first surfaced, he moved Hunter into his family home and agreed to publicly declare that he – and not Mr Edwards – was the one guilty of a major sexual indiscretion.