£500 fine for defendant - but MP says he wished he could have been jailed

Les Cummings outside the court today
Les Cummings outside the court today

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Election candidate Les Cummings has been fined £500 for falsely describing Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock as a paedophile.

District Judge Anthony Calloway described the election leaflet in which Cummings made the claim as horrendous.

He fined Cummings £500 with a victim surcharge of £15.

He said: ‘To call anybody a paedophile, let alone a person in the eye of the public such as an MP like Mike Hancock is a grave and serious allegation as can be made.

‘The defence depend upon the belief of Mr Cummings in what he published and a patchwork of different evidenve derived from different sources, conversations, some of which is third hand, gossip, sightings and meetings of over 20 years ago and the relaying of inappropriate and salacious talk.

‘Many of the witnesses have open contempt for Mr Hancock.

‘This patchwork evidence as I have described it provides no proper or reasonable basis for the extreme torrent of material that has been contained within the leaflet.’

Mr Hancock was not in court to hear the verdict. He said he was delighted that Cummings had been found guilty but was disappointed that a custodial sentence could not be imposed. The maximum penalty for the offence is a £5,000 fine.

He said: ‘I’m delighted. My only regret is that it doesn’t carry a custodial sentence. If there was any justice he should be in prison now.

‘But because he claims he has no money he gets a £500 fine because this offence doesn’t carry a custodial sentence.

‘Bullies should never get their own way and Les is a bully and a liar. He tried to wreck my career and reputation by telling lies.

‘There wasn’t a shred of evidence in what he had to say. He relied for evidence on people who couldn’t be trusted.

‘It was all completely unfounded, it was a total lot of tosh. I feel completely vindicated. Liars like Mr Cummings should be seen as what they are. I have never stood by as people are bullying others and I hope no-one will ever trust what he has to say again.’