Nick Clegg today appealed to voters in Eastleigh not to exact retribution on the Liberal Democrats for Chris Huhne's conduct.

Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael will today move the writ, formally triggering the by-election in the Hampshire constituency following Huhne's decision to quit in the wake of his conviction for dodging speeding points.

Mr Clegg said that the former cabinet minister would at some stage have to explain himself to his erstwhile constituents.

But speaking at the Institute for Government in London, the Lib Dem leader urged people not to take revenge on his party.

''What has happened has happened with Chris Huhne and his guilty plea on Monday morning,'' he said.

''I think the choice for the people of Eastleigh in the by-election is what kind of an MP do they want to have now.

''I hope that it will be on that basis rather than in a mood or spirit of retribution that the debate will be conducted in Eastleigh.''