08th March 2013
Are there lessons to be learnt from the Chris Huhne case?
Imogen Cox, Head of Motoring at Cartwright King.
No-one likes making a mistake or having to admit that they may have made one so it can be very tempting to try and cover it up and pretend that it never happened.
However some mistakes and attempts to cover them up can have far more serious consequences than the original blunder as Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicki Pryce have recently discovered.
As we know Chris Huhne was an MP and cabinet minister and his wife a senior government economist and at the time they had been married for a number of years.
He received a notice approximately 10 years ago to say that he was to be prosecuted for a road traffic offence. The possible sentence for this was points on his licence or a driving ban and a financial penalty.
Chris Huhne knew that he was the driver of the vehicle at the time in question but instead asked his wife to say that she was the driver and the points were endorsed upon her licence. The sentence for this was 3 points and a small fine.
Several years and an affair later, a disgruntled estranged wife tells the press what actually happened. The result — 2 trials and 2 guilty verdicts and a final sentence of both parties facing a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice, loss of career and reputation. How can it ever be worth it?
I have represented people in the past who have made similar mistakes that have been made far worse by the attempt to conceal. For example, there was a guy who paid someone £100 to take points for him when the fine would have only been £60 and he already had a clean driving licence. The outcome of this was a suspended sentence and a large chunk of unpaid work.
There’s also the case of a local professional who made a genuine error, but for fear of being struck off, put together a complex cover up which resulted in him being struck off anyway as his cover up actually constituted an offence when his original error was just that — an error.
A far better solution is to take the advice of an expert at the time of the initial problem occurring and then deal with it appropriately and face the consequences. By trying to avoid them you are putting yourself and anyone else that you involve in a much more serious position.