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I’m sorry for splitting with my wife but she won’t forgive me – British Minister

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has spoken of his "enormous regret" at the bitter break-up of his marriage.

The Cabinet minister said that he has apologised to ex-wife Vicky Pryce over the split - but revealed that she has refused to forgive him.

The couple were married for more than 25 years before Mr Huhne left for another woman last year. Soon afterwards, allegations emerged that he had tried to evade punishment for speeding by asking Ms Pryce to take penalty points.

Interviewed at a fringe event organised by the Observer at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham, Mr Huhne opened up about the continuing acrimony.

"Frankly it was an appalling set of circumstances," he said. "I personally feel enormously regretful about what I put my family through and what happened with Vicky."

He added: "I entirely understand the stress that she has been caused. She has not traditionally been out there in public."

Asked by journalist Andrew Rawnsley whether he had apologised, the MP replied: "Yes."

But pressed on whether she had accepted he said: "No."

Questioned on whether he believed she would eventually forgive him, he added: "I don't know."

Mr Huhne said he "understood entirely" why Ms Pryce found it difficult to forgive him, given the "public process, the very public way we broke up".

Mr Huhne suggested his affair could have been exposed by the News of the World because he called for an inquiry into phone-hacking.

"In retrospect I can see that I was running some substantial risks, for example, in what I was doing politically as well," he told the audience of party activists last night.

"In the run-up to the election I was the first frontbencher to call for a judicial inquiry into the phone hacking scandal.

"And of course, the newspaper that put people on to me and broke the story about the affair was the News of the World.

"So we will have to see ... what the conclusions are from all that."

Mr Huhne said that his ex-wife was "still very angry" over the break-up.

Both Ms Pryce and the MP's new partner, former press officer Carina Trimingham, are believed to have attended the Lib Dem gathering in Birmingham this week.

During the fringe event, Mr Huhne again said he was "confident" that he would be cleared after a police probe into allegations that Ms Pryce took speeding points on his behalf in 2003.

"I am expecting and I hope that the results of the inquiry will draw a line under the whole matter, and that will be an end of it," he said.

Asked to "swear" Ms Pryce had not accepted a penalty on his behalf, he responded: "Absolutely."

He said he had "no idea" how many times he had broken the 70mph speed limit, but admitted it was "too many".

"Too many times because I lost my licence on cumulative points and tot-up," he added.

He went on: "I also obviously accept that law-makers should not be law-breakers."

The Crown Prosecution Service is currently considering an evidence file and is expected to make a decision on whether to proceed with charges next month.

Mr Huhne said he had "no idea" when the case would be concluded.