By Ray Fleming

Chris Huhne, the former coalition minister who last year was sentenced to eight months jail for lying about the speeding points he tried to get his wife to put on her licence , has got a new job. No, not cleaning out the toilets in prison, but as European chairman of the US-based Zilkha Biomass Energy company (ZBE). He served only two months of his sentence and was quickly recruited by ZBE which now describes him on its website as “one of the pioneers in calling for political action to deal with global warming”. For two days a week he will receive a reported 100'000 pounds a year. So few people come out of prison in a condition to find employment that Mr Huhne's rapid rehabilitation must be welcomed. But there are other grounds for questioning his appointment. An official body called the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments advises the prime minister on the possible conflict of interest when a minister leaves his job in government and takes a job closely related to his former ministerial responsibilitity. Mr Huhne was energy minister in Britain's coalition government until last year yet the Advisory Committee did not think the usual two year gap between leaving Westminser and working elsewhere needed to be observed. ZBE's reference to “political action” suggests that they disagree with the Committe's view that there will be no conflict of interest.

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