I broadly share Colette Douglas Home's view about the effectiveness and appropriateness of imprisonment, particularly for minor offences, but I would argue that Chris Huhne's criminality was the exception which proves the rule ("Community service best punishment for Huhne", The Herald, February 5).
A seat at the top table of Government should attract the highest standards of personal probity. We expect, demand and deserve no less; granted, there is still work to be done here, but an idealistic benchmark is necessary nonetheless. Huhne believed a position, connection and sheer brass neck would protect him from forces the rest of us have neither the capacity nor, generally, the inclination to resist.
Perhaps more importantly, his offences were far from minor. As well as his serial dishonesty, it is worth considering he was caught driving at excessive speed four times in under two years, twice in one month. This displays outright disregard for the safety of others. Add to these charges perverting the course of justice and jail sounds about right.
Of course, the cost of incarceration is a consideration, but the cost of not imprisoning him would be far higher. Our faith in political institutions and the plutocracy they support has never been so low. Given the behaviour of banks, power companies, media barons and a good number of MPs, we don't need to look far to see why so many believe we are ruled by an untouchable elite who simply "don't get it". We've seen too many walk away unscathed from carnage they caused in recent years: Huhne's friends in the City, for example.
In any case, Huhne owns eight homes and is worth millions. He could and should pay for the privilege of both his imprisonment and the costs to an already stretched justice system that have accrued while he tried every trick in the book to avoid facing the music.
Colette Douglas Home suggests community service would be the appropriate punishment for Chris Huhne. Service to the community is what he was elected to carry out as an MP. Breaking promises on tuition fees is one thing, standing in front of television cameras solemnly assuring his constituents and the rest of us he was innocent is something else. However, I don't believe a member of Parliament should receive either a harsher or a lighter sentence for breaking the law than would have been handed down to a member of the public. Justice should apply across the board.
And in many ways, no prison sentence could be worse than the contempt and disgust contained in the text messages made public from Peter Huhne to his father. Losing the love and respect of your child is indeed a terrible punishment; Huhne has thrown away something far more precious than a parliamentary career.
99 Grampian Road,
Is it any wonder the British public has lost faith in the way politicians behave?
I thought politicians had to have integrity before being elected to represent constituents.
This is another shining example where politicians lack the basic qualities of integrity and decency.
While the offence, in the grand scheme of things, might be trivial, it is the lying to save one's career that is unforgivable, together with the waste of public funds in investigating this matter, that will fully resonate with the electorate.
I hope Chris Huhne, when he is sentenced, no doubt to a term of imprisonment, reflects on the further damage he has caused to the reputation of the "honourable" member of Parliament.
Park of Auchentoig,
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