Chris Huhne: Whatever you think of his past, these texts between a father and son are heart-breaking

Putting Huhne's catalogue of deceit to the side, we can still feel empathy for a man who had such personal opprobrium heaped on him, and then had it seen by the public

Share
Related Topics

He called his son “Tiger”, his son called him “a fat piece of s***”.

He wished his son "Happy Christmas", his son replied with "I hate you, so f*** off". He tells his son that he's proud of him, and back comes: "Don't contact me again, you make me sick." And so it goes on. The text messages between Chris Huhne and his son Peter, who is now 20 years old, are truly heart-breaking to read, whether you happen to be a parent or not.

And of all facets of the multi-layered catastrophe that represents the downfall of a man who was once a whisker away from proper political power, it is the exchanges between father and son that turn this story from one of shattered ambition into something altogether more complex and human.

The driving offences, the lies, the jilted wife, the cover-up,
and a career in the knacker's yard - in my eyes, they are all dwarfed in resonance by the tragic dislocation of Huhne's relationship with his then teenaged son, which was exposed in court by the disclosure of the text message trail between the two.

It was all too easy to imagine the pain felt by Huhne, and relate to his predicament. He sends a text to his son, proffering a hand in reconciliation, or sending a message of support, or simply expressing paternal love. A few minutes later, his mobile pings, and for a brief moment his heart lifts, hopeful for what has been delivered.  But then he opens the text to reveal an implacably hostile response. Again and again, over the course of a year, Huhne put himself through the same gut-wrenching process.

Every effort he made to try and repair the relationship was firmly rebuffed, sometimes with a direct and coarse two-word response.  Whatever else we think of Huhne and his catalogue of deceit, and however badly he has behaved towards his family, we can still feel empathy for a man who had such personal opprobrium heaped on him through this impersonal channel, and then had it placed before the voyeuristic gaze of a censorious public.

I wonder how this story would have played out 20-odd years ago, in an era before text messaging became the common currency of inter-personal communication.  Huhne and his son would have had to talk to each other. Peter may have put down the phone on his dad, but maybe, just maybe, hearing each other's voices could have been enough to defuse the situation. The tone of voice, a nuanced expression of affection, a joke even, may have been enough to soften Peter's 18-year-old heart.

Possibly not, but it is undoubtedly the case that text messaging is no way to resolve an argument. In fact, it's the coward's way out. We are much braver when we are punching out words on a mobile phone than when we are addressing the recipient face-to-face. And the harshest of sentiments have more power and permanence - as we have clearly seen in this case - when they are delivered in a text. And long after we've forgotten the speeding points, and the who-did-what-to-whom, we shall remember the shocking messages delivered by son to father, and we shall feel sorry for Chris Huhne.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
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?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells