UK Politics

Chris Huhne expenses complaint lodged

Chris Huhne
Image caption Chris Huhne is being investigated by police over claims he tried to evade a punishment for speeding

The Electoral Commission says it is looking into a complaint it has received about Energy Secretary Chris Huhne's general election expenses.

Two former Liberal Democrat councillors in the Lib Dem minister's Eastleigh constituency told the watchdog he had made a "false declaration".

Mr Huhne has strongly denied the charge and insists his expenses were in order.

He is already being investigated by police over claims he tried to evade a speeding punishment, which he denies.

The energy secretary has been under pressure since his ex-wife suggested someone close to him took licence points for him after a speeding offence committed on the M11 motorway in 2003.

On Monday Mr Huhne dismissed the allegations as "simply incorrect".

The allegations made concerning the energy minister's election expenses were based on a recording of a local party meeting where treasurer Anne Winstanley is heard saying that the elections "have cost more than we declared".

'No irregularities'

The complaint was made by former Lib Dem mayor Glynn Davies-Dear, now an independent councillor on Eastleigh borough council, and former Lib Dem councillor Andy Moore.

Both men quit the party in January in protest at the coalition government's policies.

The spending limit for Mr Huhne's constituency at the 2010 general election was £39,973 and he declared £29,519.

Following the complaint against the energy secretary, Ms Winstanley issued a statement in which she said the general election expenses "were as declared to the Electoral Commission".

"Additional expenditure in this period was for the local election campaigns, or not attributable to the campaign," she said.

Responding to the allegations, Mr Huhne said: "These election expenses have been thoroughly checked and accepted by the Electoral Commission. I have no reason to believe there are any irregularities."

Aides said the minister was confident the claims would be dismissed, arguing that they were was based on a misunderstanding of what was said at the meeting.

They said the sums referred to in the meeting covered all campaigning in the constituency and not just Mr Huhne's individual campaign expenses.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said it was looking into the matter. She stressed that it is not a formal investigation and that the commission looked into any complaints it received.

Foreign Secretary William Hague was asked on the BBC's Politics Show whether he thought Mr Huhne should resign.

He replied: "I don't think every time there are allegations about members of the cabinet, they should automatically step down. There are often many allegations of many different kinds about members of the cabinet.

"So... if that's the question, the answer is no. But the answer to the questions about the allegations is, of course, we'll have to see what the police say about them."

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell told Sky News Prime Minister David Cameron should set up an independent investigation to establish the facts of both the expenses and driving matters.

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