Answers demanded over Hancock decision

Mike Hancock MP
Mike Hancock MP
Mike Taylor, operations director at Society of St James with the leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones.

Picture: Sarah Standing (170729-3206)

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THE solicitor representing a woman alleged to have been sexually assaulted by Mike Hancock wants to know why the police has decided not to take further action for now.

As previously reported, Hampshire Constabulary reviewed a dossier prepared for Portsmouth City Council by QC Nigel Pascoe about the allegations.

But following discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service, the police force has decided it will not take criminal action against the Fratton councillor, who is also MP for Portsmouth South.

Mr Hancock has always denied the claims made against him. He still faces civil action and a council investigation over the allegations.

Harriet Wistrich, who is acting on behalf of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: ‘I have asked for a full explanation for the latest police decision so that I can advise my client whether to challenge it. All she seeks is justice and accountability.’

Ms Wistrich said she had asked for a copy of Mr Pascoe’s report but was refused.

Mr Pascoe said in a letter to the council that the alleged victim’s account of her experiences was credible and ‘it was a strengthening of his previous view’ that there should be no further delay in the council’s investigation of Cllr Hancock’s conduct.

The council will not decide whether Mr Hancock is guilty of breaking the council’s code of conduct until the outcome of a civil action at the High Court which the woman has lodged against him.

‘As a solicitor experienced in holding the police and other authorities to account, I am shocked by the way the avenues to accountability are being shut,’ said Ms Wistrich.

‘My client is a vulnerable woman who alleges abuse by a powerful man in Portsmouth – she deserves an opportunity for her allegations to be tested by the court and the council.’

All parties involved are due to meet at the High Court on December 16 to talk about a settlement.

The woman said: ‘I feel really let down by all the authorities.

‘All I want is for this man to be held to account, but instead he is allowed to stay in his position as a councillor and MP resisting due process.’