Chris Huhne the millionaire MP who was charged over allegations that he used his ex wife Vicky Pryce’s name to escape speeding penalty points would be the first Cabinet Minister in history to be forced to leave office by a criminal prosecution.
But he will get £17,000 worth of payoff despite being rich enough to own eight properties. The sum would be tax free. He stepped down to fight charges of perverting the course of justice.
Mr Huhne resigned as Energy Secretary on February 3 after he was charged over the penalty points.
The 57 year old MP who fiercely protested his innocence was under pressure from his opponents to forfeit the sum of £17,207 which under law is the allowed three months of his £68,827 ministerial salary. He gets another £65,738 salary as Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire.
But the cabinet office has confirmed that Mr Huhne will receive the money.
His decision to accept the money has triggered accusations of hypocrisy as senior Liberal Democrats have condemned ex-ministers for taking payoffs.
In 2010, Mr Huhne had shared a platform with Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi when she called for ex-ministers to forfeit the controversial taxpayer-funded payoffs.
She said had said that with countrymen being asked to tighten their belts to deal economic mess, it was not proper that the very people responsible walk away with up to £20,000 each.
Forfeiting this pay would be the first step towards accepting their responsibility she said.
Mr Huhne’s fellow Lib Dem David Laws refused to take the payment, when he stepped down from the Cabinet over his expenses days after the General Election in May 2010.
Mr Huhne and his ex wife face the charge of perverting the course of justice an offence for which, along with perjury, former Tory Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitkin was jailed for 18 months.
A jail sentence of more than 12 months would mean Mr Huhne’s Parliamentary career coming to an end, as well as his Cabinet one. MPs who are imprisoned for more than a year automatically lose their seats. It is not known whether Mr Huhne plans to keep the money. He was unavailable for comment last night.