Chris Huhne has resigned from Cabinet after being charged with perverting the course of justice over allegations he asked his ex-wife to take speeding penalty points on his behalf.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that Business minister Ed Davey will become the new Energy Secretary after Mr Huhne resigned from Cabinet following the CPS decision to press charges was announced on Friday morning.
“I totally understand and respect why Chris Huhne has stood down from his position in government to clear his name,” Mr Clegg said. ”Chris Huhne is a good friend and a close colleague who I think has done an outstanding job.
“He has been a pioneer in new groundbreaking policies which I believe will stand the test of time. If he wishes to clear his name I have made it clear to him that I would like to see him back in government in a key position.”
Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said today that the Energy Secretary and Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh will face the charge after an eight-month investigation into claims that his ex-wife Vicky Pryce accepted speeding points on his behalf. Ms Pryce will face the same charge.
“The decision today is deeply regrettable, I’m innocent of these charges and I intend to fight this in courts- I’m confident that a jury will agree," Mr Huhne said.
"So as to avoid any distraction to either my official duties or my trial defence I am standing down and resigning as energy and climate change secretary," he added. "I will of course continue to serve my constituents in Eastleigh. That is all I want to say today.”
The alleged incident was said to have occurred when Mr Huhne was an MEP in 2003 but only came to light after he ended his 25-year marriage with Ms Pryce in June 2010.
David Cameron thanked Mr Huhne for his "very significant" role within the Government, though admitted that the Eastleigh MP "made the right decision under the circumstances...I am sorry to see you leave the Government under these circumstances and wish you well for the future."
Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer said: "All the available evidence has been considered by the CPS and we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against both Mr Huhne and Ms Pryce for perverting the course of justice".
"The essence of the charges is that between March and May 2003, Mr Huhne, having allegedly committed a speeding offence, falsely informed the investigating authorities that Ms Pryce was the driver of the vehicle in question and she falsely accepted that she was the driver."
The ministerial code states that MPs should "behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety."