28/02/2012 18:29 GMT | Updated 29/02/2012 05:47 GMT

Chris Huhne Pockets £17k Cabinet Payoff

Former energy secretary Chris Huhne is to receive a £17,000 payoff after quitting the Cabinet to fight charges of perverting the course of justice, it has been confirmed.

Ministers are entitled to severance pay equivalent to three months of their ministerial salary when they leave the Government. However, the money is not paid to them automatically, but must be claimed by the MP in question.

Mr Huhne has come under pressure from opponents not to claim the tax-free payment, after becoming the first government minister in living memory to be forced out of office by a criminal prosecution.

But the Cabinet Office said: "We can confirm that, following his resignation from the Cabinet, Chris Huhne will receive a severance payment of three months of his ministerial salary."

Before his resignation on 3 February, Huhne, a millionaire, received annual ministerial pay of £68,827 on top of his £65,738 salary as MP for Eastleigh.

He denies perverting the course of justice by asking his then wife to take speeding penalty points onto her driving licence. Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce are due to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 2 March.

Labour MP John Mann said it was "outrageous" that Huhne had chosen to accept the money.

"We should be asking Mr Huhne why he considers it appropriate to accept this money when the country is facing deep cuts. Mr Huhne should repay this undeserved bonus immediately," he said.

Nick Clegg said Huhne had taken the decision "alone" to accept the payment. "It's his decision. It's an individual decision. He's decided to take that severance pay," he told LBC radio.


The resignation story in full

Keir Starmer's statement in full

Chris Huhne's resignation letter to Cameron, and the PM's reply

Nick Clegg pays tribute to his "friend" Chris Huhne

The Coalition casualties so far, in full

Who is Ed Davey?