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CPS decision on Huhne expected soon

A decision will be made "as soon as possible" on whether Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is to face charges over speeding case allegations.

The way was cleared for a swift ruling after the publishers of the Sunday Times dropped a High Court challenge to a court order requiring emails relating to the allegations to be produced to Essex Police.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: "We are pleased that the appeal has been withdrawn. As soon as we have received the evidence we will consider it carefully and will reach a decision as soon as possible."

It is understood the CPS is hoping to be able to make a decision within weeks, but this depends on the amount of evidence it has to process from the production order.

Police began investigations following claims by Mr Huhne's former wife, Vicky Pryce, in a Sunday Times interview that the Liberal Democrat had asked "someone" to take speeding points on his behalf to avoid losing his licence. It later emerged the "someone" was allegedly Mrs Pryce.

Emails linked to the case were allegedly exchanged between Mrs Pryce and Isabel Oakeshott, the Sunday Times political editor. The police obtained an order requiring that the emails be handed over to them at a private hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court last October.

Times Newspapers Ltd were expected to challenge the legality of the order before Lord Justice Toulson and Mr Justice Cranston at London's High Court. However, as the hearing was about to start, the publishers withdrew their application, clearing away the last obstacle to the handover.

News reports have suggested ministers are on alert for a mini reshuffle if the case spells the end of the Energy Secretary's Cabinet career. Downing Street declined to speculate on whether Mr Huhne could remain a minister if he is charged with an offence, saying only that members of the Cabinet are appointed by the Prime Minister and are subject to the ministerial code.

The code states that "ministers of the Crown are expected to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety" and makes clear that it is for the Prime Minister alone to judge whether they should remain in office.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister has confidence in the Energy Secretary."

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