POLITICS

Chris Huhne's 'Lenient' Prison Sentence To Be Reviewed By Attorney General After Tory MP Complains

13/03/2013 15:56 GMT | Updated 13/03/2013 16:31 GMT

A Tory MP has written to the Attorney General urging him to appeal the "unduly lenient" eight month prison sentence handed down to former Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne.

On Wednesday David Burrowes, the MP for Enfield-Southgate wrote to Dominic Grieve to complain that Huhne had "deceived the public" after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice despite having denied the claim for some time.

"It strikes at the root of the criminal justice system," Burrowes said. "This particular case spanning over a 10-year period showed prolonged and persistent misleading conduct.

"The continuous lies from Chris Huhne to the police, court and public was a deliberate systematic attempt to pervert the course of justice and undermine the rule of law.

"Any credit for a guilty plea is limited given that it took place at the door of the trial court after numerous defence delays and attempts to stop the prosecution."

Huhne's sentence was reduced by 10% given he had pleaded guilty to the crime, however Burrowes said this appeared to be "generous".

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The former high flying Lib Dem cabinet minister's political career ended last week when he was sent to jail, along with his ex-wife Vicky Pryce, for asking her to take his speeding points in 2003 so he could avoid a ban.

The Attorney General's Office has confirmed it has received the letter and will consider reviewing the sentences.

Burrowes said: "I believe that the sentence of eight months imprisonment is too short and does not fully reflect the seriousness of the offence and the need for it to be exemplary and provide deterrence."

"There is an important public interest in all sentences but particularly this type of case which involves the need to uphold the rule of law. There is a concern that the sentence, particularly for Chris Huhne, was lenient compared to comparable cases involving people who were not politicians or in high profile positions.

"It is important that there is no substance for the perception of there being one rule for the rulers and another for the ruled."

Burrowes said both Huhne and his ex-wife had "manipulated and deceived the public whom they were there to serve".

"Chris Huhne has accepted lawmakers cannot be law breakers, but the responsibility goes further to ensure that respect and confidence in the rule of law is maintained."

Burrowes also said that while Pryce was found not to have been coerced into accepting the speeding points, Huhne had pressured her to do so.

"It is a relevant and an aggravating factor that Chris Huhne brought an innocent person into his web of deception and no doubt asserted emotional pressure if not coercion," he said.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office confirmed the request for the sentences of Huhne and Pryce to be reviewed and been made and that it was being considered.

A decision whether or not to refer them to the Court of Appeal will be taken within 28 days of the original sentences.