CHRIS Huhne dramatically announced he was stepping down from Parliament today after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.
The former energy secretary was due to stand trial alongside ex-wife Vicky Pryce on charges that he made her take speeding points on his behalf.
But this morning he dramatically changed his plea as the case was about to open at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
Making a statement outside the court afterwards, the Liberal Democrat said: “Having taken responsibility for something that happened 10 years ago, the only proper course of action for me is to resign my Eastleigh seat in Parliament, which I will do shortly.”
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is understood to be “shocked and saddened'' at the development, and is expected to make a statement soon.
Huhne’s departure from the Commons is the latest humiliation in a tumultuous fall from grace that began when allegations over the speeding penalty surfaced early in 2011.
He was only narrowly beaten by Mr Clegg for the party leadership in 2007, and was still regarded by many as the Deputy Prime Minister’s natural successor.
The 58-year-old strongly denied the claims when he was charged by prosecutors last February, and repeated the denials in court as recently as last week.