British Energy Secretary Resigns, Facing Criminal Charges

Posted February 3rd, 2012 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has resigned and is facing criminal charges in connection with allegations that he dodged a speeding ticket several years ago.

The director of public prosecutions announced Friday that both Huhne and his former wife, Vicky Pryce, stand accused of perverting the course of justice involving a traffic offense in 2003.

It is alleged that after being stopped for speeding, Huhne told authorities that his wife was actually behind the wheel so that he would avoid losing his driver's license. His wife, according to the charges, falsely accepted that she was the driver.

Huhne, who is a senior member of Britain's Liberal Democrat party, insisted he is innocent and plans an aggressive defense.

His party is part of the coalition government, led by the Conservatives, that came to power in 2010. Huhne, as energy secretary, played an important role in December's climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, that produced an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Huhne is the second Liberal Democrat minister forced to step down and his resignation is seen as a blow to the coalition. He is being replaced by a fellow party member, Ed Davey.