It is unusual for the police to press the Crown Prosecution Service to go ahead and charge a Minister of the Crown. But this is what they have done with the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne. It is encouraging, too, that they insist they have enough evidence also to proceed against his wife who, allegedly, took his speeding points. I have no doubt that were the matter not to concern two high profile figures – Vicky Pryce, Huhne’s estranged wife and a leading media economist – a decision would have been made many months ago.
What the people of our fair-minded country have always insisted on down the centuries is even-handed justice. I venture to suggest that if the CPS do not decide to press charges there will be a storm of protest. In that event David Cameron could expect a very rough ride at Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.
One could begin to understand the government’s reticence if Chris Huhne were a popular figure, doing a good job at his ministry – as Dr Liam Fox was at Defence – but Huhne is widely despised at Westminster and beyond. He gains no brownie points either by insisting that the country has 3,500 wind turbines foisted on it at huge public expense, in denial in the face of the mountain of evidence which shows that they are not cost effective. Desecrating some of our prettiest landscapes seems of no account to him.
The country has not forgotten, either, that here is a man who spent his life rubbishing nuclear power, only to experience a Damascene conversion all of a sudden when he gets his ministerial chauffeur-driven car and realises that there is no way the country can keep the lights on as well as meet its environmental commitments without it.
As for the police recommending that Huhne be brought to book, the government – which might not wish for a third ministerial resignation since, in Oscar Wilde’s immortal words, it will start to look ‘careless’ – should tread carefully. After all, it certainly did itself no favours by refusing to comply with the law of the land by denying an inquest into the suspicious death of Dr David Kelly, the arms inspector. When 19 eminent medics say that Kelly could not have died in the way the government claims he did, then we should be worried – especially when they point out that the inquiry into his death failed to address a series of important unanswered questions. The public smelled a rat most definitely when it later learned that a 70-year gagging order had been slapped on the proceedings. It was the first time in British jurisprudence that an inquest was refused.
This matter has not gone away, so if the government/CPS thinks it can again, within months, insult the intelligence of the British people by saying that there is not enough evidence to prosecute the Energy Secretary, then it had better think again.