Rebecca Tyrrel: 'The Chris Huhne story is starting to resemble a tragicomic episode of Doctor Who'


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Who knew that Chris Huhne's late mother, Ann, née Murray, was once upon a time the voice of the speaking clock? Very few would seem to be the literal answer to that. Her name does not appear in any of the websites devoted to chronicling the history of the speaking clock, either here or in her native Canada. For reasons unknown, this occasional actress has been airbrushed out of speaking clock history.

However, the exact time has become a critical element in the life of her son. The former Energy and Climate Change Secretary's imminent trial for perverting the course of justice may turn on precise timings. Would his then wife, who he claims was driving the car on the 2003 night when the then MEP returned to Stansted from Brussels, and then drove back to London, have had time to be on the M11 when the speeding offence was committed? And time is what the Liberal Democrat MP may serve, in a less elegant way than his mother, if the jury is unconvinced of his innocence.

In the Chris Huhne story, in fact, time plays such a central part things are starting to resemble a tragi-comic episode of Doctor Who. He only lost the party leadership in 2007 because the Christmas post forgot to call the speaking clock and delivered postal votes too late. It was during half-time in a 2010 World Cup match that Huhne blurted out to his then wife and future co-defendant Vicky Pryce, the clever, betrayed economist, that he was leaving her for the lobbyist, Carina Trimingham, who is also his press agent. He explained that, with the press on his tail, he had exactly 30 minutes to kill the story.

Kill the story, however, with hindsight, he clearly failed to do. Perhaps it is a blessing that his beautiful mother, who died in 2010, has been spared the anguish of seeing her son in the dock. I like the sound of the late Ann Murray; just as interesting as her questionable speaking clock credit is her audition for National Velvet, or that she was Joe Grundy's Canadian girlfriend in The Archers, or that she had a role in Star Wars, hanging upside-down, or most fascinating of all, that she was taught to swim by Johnny Weissmuller, who was not only an Olympic gold medallist, but the first ever Tarzan. It all makes Miss Trimingham sound very, very dull.

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