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Nick Clegg would 'welcome back' Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne into Cabinet
4:34pm Thursday 10th January 2013 in Eastleigh
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has indicated that he would be keen to have Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne back in the Cabinet if he was cleared of perverting the course of justice.
Huhne resigned as a minister after being charged over an allegation that he persuaded his ex-wife Vicky Pryce to take his penalty points for a speeding offence almost a decade ago.
Mr Clegg, who beat Mr Huhne to the Liberal Democrat leadership in 2007, said the former minister was a ''big beast'' who should be in the Cabinet.
''I would like to see Chris return, if he is cleared of everything,'' Mr Clegg told a House of Commons press gallery lunch.
''I think Chris is a formidable, accomplished politician.
''He is one of the big beasts of the Liberal Democrats.
''He's an old colleague and a friend of mine and I want to see him at the top table of British politics.
''I can't predict what is going to happen in court cases nor what might happen afterwards and when, but as a starting point I think Chris is someone who belongs at the top table of British politics.''
Pressed on which Lib Dem minister would have to make way for Huhne, Mr Clegg said he wanted him back ''as a matter of principle'' but did not know ''how, where or when''.
Huhne, 58, from Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, Hampshire, stayed on as the Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh, after standing down from Cabinet to fight the charge.
The events which led to the charges date back to March 2003, when Huhne's car was allegedly caught by a speed camera on the motorway between Stansted Airport in Essex and London.
Accusations of impropriety emerged in 2010, after the father-of-five admitted an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham and ended his 26 year marriage.
It is alleged that between March 12 2003 and May 21 2003, Pryce, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, falsely informed police that she was the driver of the car, thereby accepting responsibility for the offence so Huhne could avoid prosecution.