Just as everyone was settling down to a long entertaining courtroom drama, Chris Huhne has stunned everyone and pled guilty. His trial for charges of perverting the course of justice was due to start this morning. But at the start of the court hearing, the former Lib Dem Energy Secretary switched his plea – having already entered a ‘not guilty’ plea – to ‘guilty.’

His estranged wife Vicky Pryce had already entered a’ not guilty’ plea, using the defence of marital coercion, on the allegations that she took her husband’s speeding points on her licence to enable him to avoid prosecution, and Huhne’s case will go forward for sentencing, while Pryce’s trial resumes tomorrow. You can read the CPS sentencing guidelines on perverting the course of justice here.

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The change of plea now raises the prospect of a rather grim Tory vs Lib Dem by-election in Huhne’s Eastleigh constituency. It is on Grant Shapps’ list of target seats, and Huhne won the seat with a majority of 3,864 in 2010. William Hill has the Tories odds-on to win at 1.2, the LibDems at 6/4 and UKIP at 33-1. And Labour? 100-1. Don’t expect many visits from Ed.

Comments on this post have been closed for legal reasons: Pryce’s trial continues.

Tags: Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrats, UK politics