POLL: 'It will be okay Tony', politican Chris Huhne said to friend Tony Rogers over speeding point scandal
A FRIEND of disgraced politician Chris Huhne – jailed on Monday for perverting the course of justice – said the former cabinet minister thought he would not be convicted as little as six months ago.
Councillor Tony Rogers, deputy leader of Derbyshire's Liberal Democrat group, said Huhne told him "it would be okay, Tony" when he last spoke to him in September.
Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Huhne was jailed for eight months – along with ex-wife Vicky Pryce – over a speeding points scandal which they were charged over last February.
The former couple were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for perverting the course of justice in 2003, when Pryce took speeding points for her then-husband.
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Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to the offence on the first day of his trial last month. Pryce, 60, was convicted after a retrial last week.
Mr Rogers, who last spoke to Huhne at September's Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, said he felt "desperately sorry" for the former couple's three children.
He said: "I'm a father and a grandfather and I can tell you they didn't deserve this."
Mr Rogers said Huhne "was a friend of mine and will continue to be a friend of mine" and said he would probably visit him in prison.
He said: "It's terrible for the country because he was a brilliant economist and that is what we need right now."
But Mr Rogers, who said he had known Huhne for "a lot of years", said he had been troubled by his friend's lies.
After the sentencing, the former Eastleigh MP apologised for lying for two years about asking his wife to take the speeding points.
Sentencing the pair, trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney said: "To the extent that anything good has come out of this whole process, it is that now, finally, you have both been brought to justice for your joint offence. Any element of tragedy is entirely your own fault."
Mr Rogers said: "My philosophy is that you shouldn't lie in either your public or private life unless it's to spare somebody's feelings and then you should perhaps avoid the subject altogether.
"You saw so many lies on both sides and that's what they are paying for now."
Mr Rogers said he did not believe the Liberal Democrats would be affected by the scandal "one iota".
He said this had been proven by the party winning the recent Eastleigh by-election, following Huhne's resignation. Mr Rogers said: "The Tory newspapers gave us some stick and we still came out on top."