UK Politics

Chris Huhne apologises to May over cat speech tip-off

Chris Huhne's tweet
Image caption The message was deleted shortly after being posted

Chris Huhne has apologised to Theresa May for pointing out similarities between her speech, and one by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, to a journalist.

The energy secretary told the Guardian journalist that a website had noted Mr Farage had made similar claims about her controversial cat deportation case.

He said the reporter asked if he would be quoted about it but he declined.

That was behind his mistakenly published "tweet" last week, intended as a private response to the reporter.

It said: "From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story" and was quickly removed from Mr Huhne's Twitter page, but not before other Twitter users had noticed it.

The Lib Dem cabinet minister was asked about the mistake on the BBC's Politics Show on Sunday.

'So funny'

He said it was a "ludicrous thing", but he had noticed that the Eastleigh News was running a recording of Mrs May's controversial speech to the Conservative Party conference - in which she claimed an illegal immigrant had avoided deportation because he had a pet cat - alongside a recording of a similar speech by Mr Farage.

Both Mr Farage and Mrs May use the phrase "I am not making this up" while telling the story - which has been disputed by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and England's most senior judges.

Mr Huhne - whose party wants to keep the Human Rights Act, which Mrs May was blaming for the deportation ruling - told the BBC he had related the story to a friend.

"I frankly thought it was so funny that when a journalist friend rang me and I told them about it they said they would write the story.

"They wanted to know if I wanted to comment on it and I said no, I didn't want to comment on it."

He said he was not behind an anonymous comment in the story - which appeared on The Guardian's website but was not in the newspaper version on Saturday - that accused Mrs May plagiarising her "clap lines"

Mr Huhne said: "I completely confess, and I own up and I have apologised to Theresa May, that I did draw attention to this public matter on a local website to the Guardian journalist when he rang me up.

"The rest of it, I'm afraid that's between the Guardian journalist and whoever he has spoken to."

He added: "I have left a message for her (Mrs May) but I haven't managed to speak to her. I left a message on her voicemail."

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