Britain's Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, a senior Lib-Dem figure, was on Friday forced to leave the government after being charged with perverting the course of justice by lying to the police over a speeding offence in 2003. If convicted he faces a jail term.

He has been replaced by Business Minister Ed Davey.

Mr. Huhne is accused of persuading his then wife, Vicky Pryce, to take his penalty points to escape a driving ban. Motorists caught speeding are given penalty points on their driving licence which could lead to a ban. Ms. Pryce also faces the same charge.

Mr. Huhne is the second Lib Dem Minister to go since the Conservative-led coalition government came to power less than two years ago. The first was David Laws, who was forced to quit after being in office for barely a fortnight over allegations of expenses abuse.

Mr. Huhne was credited with fighting the Liberal Democrats' corner around the Cabinet table and his departure is seen to have weakened the party's clout in the government. Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he hoped Mr. Huhne would be able to return to the Cabinet after clearing his name.

Mr. Huhne gave his resignation shortly after Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer announced that there was “sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against both."

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