Chris Huhne with the police

A simply astonishing column from Chris Huhne in today’s Guardian, in which he uses the jailing of Andy Coulson as a proxy to whinge about his own encounter with the criminal justice system:

“The custodial sentences are ridiculous; they serve no public purpose. The conviction itself will be the most severe part of Coulson’s punishment.

“Coulson’s sentence tells us more about the vindictive nature of our justice system – and of public opinion – than it does about his crimes.

Apparently custodial sentences are akin to 19th Century public hangings:

“there is something in the British psyche that likes to see others suffer … Are we much different today to the 30,000 people who gathered in 1849 to witness the public hanging of a husband and wife at Horsemonger Lane prison, Southwark?

And if we were in any doubt as to who he’s really talking about:

“Prison is the new public execution, with the tabloids scrambling to take pictures of any imprisoned celebrity and to invent ludicrous stories about their humiliations inside (as I can testify from my own experience).

“Given the gravity of his crimes, and the suffering of innocents, custody must be right for Rolf Harris. But surely not for Coulson and many others on short sentences.

Perverting the course of justice carries a custodial sentence because the offence undermines the very foundation of the criminal justice system, something that is clearly lost on Huhne.  His failure to tell the truth also led to the public humiliation of his son, with emotionally raw text messages revealed as part of the prosecution case.

The former cabinet minister served just a quarter of his eight month sentence and was transferred from Wandsworth to an Layhill open prison after just one week.

  1. Ian Sanderson says:

    “…short sentences”! Perhaps Andy Coulson should have been given a much longer sentence then!

  2. Is prison going to reform Coulson? Is it going to protect the public from him? If neither is the case, then what’s the point of it? Whatever you might think of his downfall – and personally, I was _delighted_ – nothing is served by imprisoning him other than pandering to our baser desires.

  3. Pamela Booker says:

    Perhaps the possibility of a prison sentence will deter others from embarking on similar crimes.

  4. Reform is only part of the sentencing – you also have to deter. Don’t forget the law should be seen to be done. And I don’t think anyone looking at Andy Coulson (or Chris Huhne) cases would say they shouldn’t receive a custodial sentence because they’re ‘nice really’. Conversely the higher up the ladder you go the more of an example you will become and both Andy and Chris are victims of their own ‘hubris’.

  5. Is prison going to reform Coulson? Is it going to protect the public from him? If neither is the case, then what’s the point of it?

    (1) Punishment
    (2) Deterrent

  6. We need to uphold the values of the state. I think it was appropriate for Huhne to go to jail in these circumstances.

    Coulson too.

  7. Sally Montgomery says:

    Really? The same prisons that we are led to believe are akin to holiday camps ? The same prisons where others are sent to daily ? Sorry but crime is crime and law is law, it can’t be adjusted to suit yourself or your family and friends.

  8. Pour encourager les autres!

    I tend to think the sentence was too lenient, and what about others?

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