Former cabinet member Chris Huhne apologised for his actions just a few hours before being sentenced to eight months in jail.

Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to perverting the court of justice on the first day of his trial, despite denying the allegations for months beforehand.

He had persuaded his ex-wife Vicky Pryce to take speeding points for him eight years ago. She was also sentenced to eight months to jail.

Speaking to the Guardian hours before his sentencing, he said sorry to everyone he had let down.

"I am sorry. I want to say that to family, to friends, to constituents and to colleagues, and more broadly to everybody who cares passionately about the causes I care about, including saving the planet for our children and our grandchildren," he told the newspaper.

"It is just too easy to rationalise, at the beginning. You think this is just a ridiculously small misjudgement to destroy your career, and you just hope that something will turn up to stop the consequences, and it does not.

Lawmakers cannot be lawbreakers

"I have to accept responsibility, and I should not have asked my ex-wife to take my speeding points, and I should not have lied on an official form, and I should not have tried to evade the consequences.

"I want, and have, to say sorry for not owning up when the story first came out. I should have owned up and got on with doing something else with my career. Lawmakers can be many things, but they cannot be lawbreakers."

Speaking about those who supported him, Huhne said: "I have been inundated with sympathetic letters and emails, and I would like to thank everyone who sent me those. They have been a comfort to me.

"Many have argued that we all make mistakes, and it's crazy that an offence committed by so many can be so devastating. But for me, just because the legal system turns a blind eye to one case does not mean that it can, or should, in my case. It was, frankly, neither here nor there. What I did was wrong, and two wrongs would not make a right."

During the interview, Huhne also said he hoped his ex-wife would not be jailed "for the sake of the family".

Speaking about the prospect of being jailed, he added: "Of course I do not want to go to prison. Losing freedom hurts, but I understand this is the normal sentence for the offence of passing on speeding points. I will not be the first person to go to prison, and I will not be the last."