I last wrote about Chris Huhne, the disgraced ex-Lib Dem politician and Cabinet minister, nearly a year ago. At the time, I said I felt besmirched by being dragged through the story (though obviously I could have put the newspaper down and dusted something instead. Of course, I didn’t. I’m human and it’s always a treat to read about a family more dysfunctional than my own).
Yesterday’s sudden confession from Huhne, that he had been lying about this incident for ten years (TEN YEARS!) does, at least, prove that the courts will no longer allow MPs to get away with everything short of murder. Huhne has spent a fortune, and an age, trying to get the case dismissed on various legal technicalities. I’m glad, for all our sakes, that it proved impossible.
But we are now brought back to the nub of the matter. The story that Huhne’s wife had taken his penalty points for him only came out during their highly toxic split. All right, her husband was leaving her after 27-odd years of marriage. And yes, he apparently told her he was off during half time while he watched football on TV. And, it’s said, he went right back to watching the match after saying he was choosing a younger woman over her. Obviously he richly deserved the usual treatment – having the pockets snipped out of his suits, his claret redistributed around the area and having jumbo prawns sewn into his new love-nest curtains. These are all, now, time-honoured means of revenge for a woman scorned. But reneging on a deal to take his penalty points, if that could possibly be what happened? A dangerous game, which has involved both of the players having a closer brush with jail than either would, surely, wish.
And now we all know the full extent of the family’s breakdown, thanks to text messages between father and son being released. I understand that these could have been kept out of the public domain, but they were not. I suppose most of us would say that Chris Huhne has got what he deserved. But his children? To send an expletive-filled text to your father on Christmas Day is surely to betray deep signs of damage. That is in neither parent’s interest. However tempting it is to get your children to take sides – and however clear it is to you that one side represents good, and the other evil – it does take two to make a bad marriage. No one can really say that they take no share of the blame when a relationship fails. Or no one rational.
This may seem like a victory for truth. But I’m afraid I see it as a defeat – for all members of the Huhne-Pryce family.