MIKE Hancock’s friend of more than four decades says he should ‘do the right thing’ and stand down as MP for Portsmouth South.
Syd Rapson has penned an open letter to the disgraced politician calling on him to think of the devastating impact he has had on his family and walk away from politics for good.
Mr Rapson, who represented Portsmouth North in parliament from 1997 to 2005, felt it was the right thing after Mr Hancock admitted this week to forging an ‘inappropriate friendship’ with a female constituent after their first meeting in October 2009.
As part of a statement approved by the High Court, Mr Hancock said sorry for causing ‘any distress, anger and worsening of a psychiatric condition’ the woman has.
Mr Rapson, who said he and Mr Hancock were a ‘left-wing duo’ for the Labour party in the 1970s, wrote: ‘If you refuse to resign, you will further damage your family and your victim will be dragged back into her suffering all over again.
‘You have damaged the reputation of Portsmouth City Council, the Liberal Democrats and members of parliament in Westminster.’
While Mr Hancock left the Labour party for the Social Democratic Party in 1981, Mr Rapson said they have remained close since – even though their morals have differed.
Mr Rapson, a life-long member of the Labour Party, said to The News: ‘It’s sad that a long political career has got to end in ruins.
‘The only thing he can do is resign. Political careers are supposed to end in tears and this one will end in bucketloads I imagine.’
As reported in The News, a three-year civil case lodged by the woman against Mr Hancock has now ended following an out-of-court settlement being reached.
The deal contained a public apology from Mr Hancock for his actions and a financial package was given to the woman, though the amount is unknown and bound by a confidentiality agreement.
Mr Hancock’s victim praised Mr Rapson for joining the campaign to get him ousted from his position.
She said: ‘It’s so pleasing to have Syd Rapson, an individual who served Portsmouth for years, to show his sympathy and support – thank you Syd.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader in Portsmouth, fears all the hard work Mr Hancock has put in over the years now counts for nothing.
‘It’s really sad that Mike has done a lot of good work in the city, and now no-one will remember any of that.
‘All they will think about is this court case.
‘Terraced streets are still standing because Mike wouldn’t let the council demolish them and build blocks of flats.’
Ukip group leader for Portsmouth, Cllr Colin Galloway, renewed calls for Mr Hancock to quit his post immediately.
‘It’s the logical course of action,’ he said.
‘I would like to know what he has done for the city –has he made a checklist which he wants to promote?’
Mr Hancock awas unavailable for comment.
Syd Rapson’s open letter to Mike Hancock
We have been political colleagues since before we were first elected as Labour councillors on Portsmouth City Council in 1971.
We were elected to Hampshire County Council and both celebrated our victory to parliament in 1997.
We famously had our first children at the same time, and our relationship has remained even though our political and moral paths were different.
We travelled around the world on The Council of Europe together and I know you well.
Your quality is that you have represented individual constituents to a great extent, and your public surgeries are more intense than possibly any other MP I know.
One of your finer moments was when the Tour de France came to Portsmouth during your time as leader of Hampshire County Council, you were instrumental in securing money that ensured it could go around the county.
But your strength wasn’t being a representative for the city.
You focused more on supporting people with their problems.
I urge you to resign your parliamentary seat immediately and spend all your time with Jacqui and your family.
You have got to get out of the public limelight.
The Hancock name and reputation have been severely damaged and a long political career is ruined, but life goes on.
You have done a lot of good for your constituents, but at the end of the day, you have got to know when it is time to go.
I am 72 and you are 68 now.
There is a lot of young political talent in the city who should be given a chance to prove themselves.
It’s definitely time for change in Portsmouth.
If you refuse to resign, you will further damage your family and your victim will be dragged back into her suffering all over again.
You have damaged the reputation of Portsmouth City Council, the Liberal Democrats and members of parliament in Westminster.
It’s a really sad end to a long career.
Do the right thing and go.