City solicitor explains his actions over MP dossier

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton

Parliamentary candidates grilled by students at Portsmouth College debate

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A COUNCIL solicitor has revealed why he did not consult elected members before challenging a dossier being used in a civil case against MP Mike Hancock.

Michael Lawther, legal adviser for Portsmouth City Council, said he did not take advice from councillors about going to the High Court due to the ‘sensitive political nature’ of the case.

As reported, a civil case was brought against Mr Hancock by a female constituent over his behaviour towards her.

He later apologised out of court and agreed to pay an undisclosed settlement.

Mr Lawther said he felt it was inappropriate for QC Nigel Pascoe’s report into the MP’s conduct to be used as evidence given the council had not finished an investigation into his behaviour.

The council paid £5,500 in legal costs after losing its bid, after forking out £1,605 going to court.

Mr Lawther said: ‘My decision, to argue that the report should not be released to the court, was simply in line with the council’s procedure and practice.’

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