The Chris Huhne case is the first instance of a minister resigning because of criminal charges since the Lord Lambton scandal of the early 1970s.
Mr Huhne says he is innocent and will fight to clear his name against the accusation of perverting the course of justice.
But the scenes played out yesterday were in the tradition of a long line of resignations after affairs, blunders or exotic revelations about private lives.
Matthew Parris chronicled many of them in his book Great Parliamentary Scandals and explains the history of ministerial resignations.
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