Attack ordeal: Lydia Huhne, 24, has revealed she was assaulted returning home from a night out
The daughter of former cabinet minister Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce today told how she headbutted an unbooked minicab driver who was trying to sexually assault her.
Lydia Huhne, 24, was returning home in the early hours after a night out at a friend’s birthday party on Saturday when she was assaulted.
The RADA-trained performer said the incident has left her “retching from shock” after she managed to escape by headbutting the driver.
She said she wanted to speak out to raise awareness of the dangers women face, and called for girls to be given self-defence classes at school.
The horrific incident took place at around 1.30am as she made her way home from a nightclub in Clapham, a short distance from her home.
She had wanted to leave as she was “quite merry” and wanted to “avoid embarrassment”, so a bouncer hailed an unbooked minicab that was illegally plying for hire outside the Clapham night spot.
Ms Huhne directed him to her road, but rather than taking her home, the driver - described as a stocky Afro-Carribean man - stopped a short distance away and locked the doors.
She said: “He clambered into the back and started touching my face, which was most scary, then my boob. I just saw red and headbutted him in the middle of the face. He sort of recoiled, and then I yelled he better let me out of the car because I had a Stanley knife and would be forced to use it - I don’t know where that came from.
“He started to laugh and opened the doors and I just ran out.”
She said as soon as she got home to her boyfriend, she started being violently sick.
“He was really worried. He’d never seen me like that. I was just retching from shock. It was very scary.
“I don’t know if the driver thought I’m some young drunk girl on her own, this is perfect. I’m quite fit because of my job. It could have been much worse.
“I’m not a violent person, I’ve never even been in a fight before. I’d been in rehearsal that day and we were talking about physical actions in time of need and someone mentioned headbutting, I was very lucky.”
Ms Huhne who was “not dressed any way provocatively”, said she assumed the minicab was safe but insisted: “People really do need to be aware. It’s really sad in this day and age, but girls should not go home on their own.”
She added: “Even if you are put in a minicab by someone you trust and even if you have a very short journey, only get in registered booked minicab or a licensed black Taxi.
Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics
Latest figures show there were 71 sexual offences committed in mincabs between April and November last year, 23 fewer than in 2012. In the same 8 month period, it's alleged there were 10 rapes, an assumed drop of 44 per cent on the previous year.
But the Met Police recently put the drop in statistics down to the fact that victims are now less likely to report attacks after confidence in the police has dropped to an all time low. In a Problem Orientated Policing report, the Met claimed only 10% of minicab related sexual attacks are ever reported.
This could mean that in the same period between April and November last year, as many as 700 attacks actually took place, including over 100 rapes.
Inspector David Aspinall, from City of London Police, said it had been working hard to clamp down on illegal cab operators. Unfortunately the CoL are you little attention to the lines of illegally plying for hire minicabs outside most clubs and bars in the City.
Unbelievably the CoL police commended two well known PH companies that provide lines of unbooked minicabs outside City establishments. Many in the taxi industry believe the police veiw these sexual assault and rape figures as just collateral damage for clearing the streets of late night drunken revellers.
God help any black cabs who form an unauthorised rank outside the Sushi Bar in Bishopsgate!
City police have a zero tolerance towards licensed Taxis.
He said: “Over the past year we have been undertaking enforcement and compliance activity amongst black cabs and private hire vehicles, making sure that they are roadworthy and that we know who is driving them.
The City police were instrumental in the setup at Abacus, where PH drivers are allowed to illegally park in front of the licensed Taxi rank and illegally ply for hire, wearing luminous blue vests with their company name on.
A spokesman for the Met amazingly added: “Only use taxis that have been licensed. These are easily recognised by a licence on display. If you don’t see a Transport for London licence then do not get in the vehicle.”
Even the police don't seem to know the difference between Taxis and minicabs...what he should have said is they are easily recognisable by their yellow for-hire signs and ID badges on the windscreen and rear window. The purpose-built taxi is also a big giveaway.
How can we expect the public to be clear about the difference between a licensed Taxi and an unbooked minicab, when the Met seem to have trouble distinguishing the difference
Ms Huhne co-runs a theatre company called Burnt Out Theatre. She performed its A Midwinter Night’s Dream and co-produced its summer Shakespeare Tour last year. She has worked extensively for the National Youth Theatre in a number of stage productions and is currently developing a new play about slavery.
A spokesman for the Met confirmed detectives were investigating an allegation of “sexual assault by touching”, but no-one had yet been arrested.
The spokesman said: “The allegation relates to an incident in Lambeth in the early hours of Sunday, 9 February.
“The incident is being invested by the sexual offences team based within the MPS Safer Transport Command.
Original source for this article was the Evening Standard, but it was so badly researched and reported we felt it necessary to change quite a lot of the text.
Michael Sayers QC once said:
No woman is safe in the minicab