Chris Huhne is right in it, if reports in the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday are to be believed. This is from the Staggers blog on the New Statesman:
Following last week’s story that Huhne asked an associate to accept penalty points he incurred for a speeding offence in 2003, the papers have followed up with the fresh claim that Huhne recently called the person involved to warn them not to talk to the media about it.
In what the MoS grandly dubs a “conspiracy of silence”, Huhne is said to have told the person: “The story they are trying to stand up is that ‘Cabinet Minister persuaded XXX to take points’. The only way they can stand that up is by getting you to talk to them. There is simply no other person who could possibly tell them whether it is true or not.”
The rest of the blog is rather interesting stuff. There’s also a section in which Chris Huhne gives advice to the other party on what to do if they are contacted by journalists:
If called by journalists, Huhne says, you should “Just say, oooh, terribly bad line, terribly sorry, bad reception, I’ll talk to you later — and hang up”.
An excellent idea, and a completely original one, too.
As luck would have it, Paperback Rioter has received a transcript of a secret phone call made from a Sunday Times journalist to Chris Huhne. I have posted the audio onto Youtube here, and below, for the first time, is the full transcript, exclusively on Paperback Rioter:
*Phone is ringing. Chris Huhne answers*
Chris Huhne: Chris Huhne speaking.
Sunday Times Journalist: Hello Chris. I’m just calling about the story that you asked an associate to accept penalty points which you incurred for a speeding offence…
Huhne: No I’m afraid the line’s very clllkkkkkk ppppprrrrrr…
Journalist: Chris Huhne? Chris Huhne, hello?
Huhne: *Scrunches bits of newspaper by the telephone. Then bashes phone on table four times* Schnell schnell kartoffelnkopf!
Journalist: I said there’s a terrible line at my end. Please call me back at once.
Chris Huhne: *blows raspberries down the phone* *Sings* A wandering minstrel wandering reeeeeleeelium. Gale Force Eight.
*Chris Huhne puts the phone down*
Nick Clegg: Come on, Chris! What was the message? I’m on tenterhooks! Do tell!
Chris Huhne: Well, as far as I could tell, the message was: he’s got a terrible lion up his end, so there’s an advantage to an enema at once.
With such skillful evasion tactics, I remain confident that Chris Huhne will remain in his cabinet post.