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Was Nick Clegg on Flight 7775 with Chris Huhne?

Michael Crick | 12:16 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

UPDATE AT 1652BST:

A spokesman for Nick Clegg has just told me that he "would not have been on the plane" - Ryanair flight 7775 on 12 March 2003.

The spokesman tells me that during the weeks that the European Parliament sat in Strasbourg rather than Brussels, Mr Clegg's routine was to travel back to Brussels where the Clegg family had a home, and then, if necessary, fly to London.

ENTRY FROM 1216BST:

Was Nick Clegg on Ryanair flight 7775 from Strasbourg to Stansted on the evening of 12 March 2003?

That's the flight under focus in the controversy over whether Chris Huhne got his then wife, Vicky Pryce, to take points for him on an alleged speeding offence on the M11 in Essex.

We know Mr Huhne was in the European Parliament that day, but didn't sign in the following day, Thursday 13 March 2003.

Mr Clegg, too, who was then an MEP, also attended the Strasbourg Parliament on the Wednesday, and voted at lunchtime, but didn't sign on there on the Thursday. Just like Chris Huhne.

So Mr Clegg, too, may have taken the late evening Ryanair flight 7775 from Strasbourg to Stansted.

So it's conceivable that Mr Clegg may recall whether Mr Huhne was on the flight too, or have some record of it.

On another matter relating to the flight, there's a newspaper report today saying that the UKIP leader Nigel Farage claims that both he and Chris Huhne were on Ryanair 7775 on the evening of Wednesday 12 March 2003.

This newspaper report doesn't tally with what Nigel Farage has told Newsnight.

On Monday Mr Farage told me that the late evening Ryanair flight to Stansted was regularly used by English MEPs when the European Parliament was sitting in Strasbourg in those days. It was not only convenient, but cheap.

And, he said, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) even supplied MEPs with free passes for the short-term car-park, right next to the terminal building at Stansted (worth £31.50 a day at 2011 prices).

When I first spoke to Mr Farage on Monday he reckoned he himself might have taken that flight that night, and he also recalled that Mr Huhne regularly took it too.

Mr Farage then went home, and went up to his loft and looked through his archives on Newsnight's behalf, and found that he - Farage - did in fact take flight 7775 on the night of 12 March 2003.

His paperwork shows the plane was scheduled to leave Strasbourg at 22.25 French time, and arrive at Stansted at 22.55 British time.

The CAA have told Newsnight that it arrived, in fact, at 22.23, which was half an hour early.

But when I spoke to him yesterday Nigel Farage couldn't recall - quite understandably - whether or not Chris Huhne was definitely on the flight too.

He just thought it was quite likely, especially if Chris Huhne wasn't at the European Parliament the following day.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    So what!?!

    Unless Huhne gave either Clegg or Farage a lift home that night, what do the above facts have to do with Huhne 'allegedly' getting his wife to take the rap for the speeding fine and susequent points?

    If he did, I doubt they could remember that far back. They certainly wouldn't remember if he was picked up by the wife.

    Just a simple query...does Vicky Pryce drive automatics only?

  • Comment number 2.

    On top of this, the LibDems have a scandal in Wales where two of their new Assembly Members have been found to be disqualified from that office under the terms of the Government of Wales Act 2006. After claiming it was only a technical breach, things are beginning to look much more difficult to resolve. It is a reputational disaster for the Party and for the new Assembly Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler who seems not to have checked bona fides...

  • Comment number 3.

    This is indeed intriguing information and a good example of Michael Crick's attention to detail and persistence in investigative reporting. Well done, Michael.

    What would be indeed ironic is if Nigel Farage were able to remember or find a small detail sufficient to be able to confirm that Chris Huhne was on the Ryan Air flight on the evening of 12 March 2003 arriving at Stansted at 22.23 Hrs.

    As a UKIP member I would be especially pleased if this were to end the conjecture about whether Chris Huhne was or was not caught for speeding that night on the M11.

    Naturally as I refute the claims made by the Energy Secretary about AGW-Climate Change hypotheses and in turn the outrageous CO2 emissions targets likely to be introduced for period 4 under the 2008 Climate Change Act I have to confess that I would be pleased if the outcome of all this was the removal of Mr Huhne from his ministerial job in the coalition government. I dare say Nigel would be too, or would this just be too disingenuous of me to suggest about him!

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    NOT TOO INTERESTED BUT:

    When Dave stands at the despatch box and converts a 6% conviction rate into: "94% OF RAPISTS ARE WALKING THE STREETS", I wonder if Compassionate Cameron has a clue about 'innocent till guilty'. Rather than hounding Huhne, I think we should be clobbering Cameron.

  • Comment number 6.

    barriesingleton,
    I don't think anyone is accusing Cameron of committing a criminal offence or don't you care whether one of our "representatives" is a criminal or not ?
    Huhne is innocent until proven guilty, if found guilty he should go to prison, simple as that.

  • Comment number 7.

    NOT SO? (#6)

    In fact, I have lodged a Conservative PARTY 'flyer', from the 2010 election, with the Police, as an alleged false instrument. Perversely (and probably deliberately) political parties seem to have no legal structure - they are outside the law. However: quite where the PARTY LEADER stands, in terms of culpability, under the Representation of the People Act, remains to be established.

    So I can assert, in response to yours, that there appears to have been a criminal offence committed, ‘by the Conservative Party’, on Cameron's watch; but then, how often have we seen politicians 'get off'?

    I repeat: against a subverted general election, Huhne is small beer.

 

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