UK Politics

Ex-minister Chris Huhne getting £17,000 cabinet pay-off

Chris Huhne
Image caption Chris Huhne resigned as energy secretary earlier this month

Former energy secretary Chris Huhne is claiming a £17,000 pay-off after leaving the cabinet to fight charges of perverting the course of justice.

The Cabinet Office confirmed Mr Huhne would receive a severance payment of three months of his ministerial salary.

Ministers are entitled to such payouts when they leave, but these are not automatic and the MP must claim them.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was a decision the Liberal Democrat had taken "alone".

"It's his decision. It's an individual decision. He's decided to take that severance pay," he told LBC radio.

Opponents have been putting pressure on Mr Huhne not to claim the tax-free sum.

Labour MP John Mann, who has tabled a bill banning such severance payments, urged him to give the money back.

Chris Huhne, 57, is accused of perverting the course of justice - it is alleged that his then wife Vicky Pryce accepted responsibility for a speeding offence in Essex in order to spare him penalty points on his licence.

The MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire has indicated he intends to plead not guilty.

His ex-wife is also facing a charge of perverting the course of justice. Both are due to appear at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge Mr Huhne earlier this month. It led to him resigning from his cabinet job, saying that although he was innocent, he wanted to "avoid distraction".

His replacement was Ed Davey, who moved over from the Department for Business.

Mr Huhne is thought to be a millionaire several times over, having made a fortune in the City before entering Parliament.

He and Ms Pryce - who divorced in January - owned several houses, some of which were let out as rental properties.

As a cabinet minister, he was paid £68,827 on top of his MP's salary of £65,738.

More on this story