Disgraced British ex-energy minister lands job with US firm

Disgraced British ex-energy minister lands job with US firm

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Former British minister Chris Huhne has taken up a senior job at a US renewable energy firm, less than three months after he was released from prison where he was serving time for lying to the authorities about a speeding offence.

Huhne, a Liberal Democrat who was secretary of state for energy and climate change in Britain's coalition government from May 2010 to February 2012, will work for two days a week for Zilkha Biomass Energy (ZBE), official documents show.

The family-owned firm said on its website that Huhne had been appointed in July as chairman, Europe, with the remit of expanding the business in the European Union.

ZBE produces biomass pellets, wood chips that are tightly compressed to fuel gas turbines which in turn produce electricity. The company also installs and operates small-scale biomass power units on customer sites.

"He was one of the pioneers in calling for political action to deal with global warming," ZBE said in a biographical note that described Huhne's career in journalism, business and politics and lauded his achievements as energy minister.

In office, Huhne spearheaded Britain's electricity market reform that aims to cut the sector's carbon emissions.

The ZBE website made no mention of the scandal that landed Huhne in prison, a bizarre tale of adultery and revenge that made front-page headlines in Britain for weeks.

Huhne and his ex-wife, economist Vicky Pryce, were convicted of perverting the course of justice over a 2003 incident when Huhne's car was caught by a speed camera and the pair falsely told police Pryce had been driving to spare Huhne a driving ban.

The deception remained a family secret for eight years but came back to haunt Huhne after he abruptly left Pryce, his wife of 26 years and mother of his three children, for his mistress in 2010.

Months later, Pryce told two newspapers about the 2003 speeding lie, in an act of revenge that ended Huhne's career, as she had hoped, but also landed her in jail.

Huhne and Pryce were both released from prison on May 13 after serving two months of their eight-month sentences.

News of Huhne's ZBE job prompted some disapproving comments from politicians, but they were unlikely to call the appointment into question as Huhne had obtained approval from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

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