MIKE Hancock has declared he will not pay back a penny of the cost of a probe into his conduct – despite a committee deciding he will be pursued for costs.
Portsmouth City Council is to order the former councillor to pay back the thousands it spent on legal advice over claims he acted inappropriately towards a female constituent during his role.
And Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the council, will consider bringing in bailiffs should the Portsmouth South MP refuse to oblige.
But Mr Hancock, who draws £67,060 a year as an MP, is adamant he will not listen to anyone’s demands.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I have no idea why I would be expected to pay it back. There is no way I intend to pay this money back. I don’t see why I should.
‘The council chose to do this. It should fall on those who insisted on doing it.
‘I have no idea what the council’s right is in asking for this. I had no part to play in the investigation, and I have never seen the report that was produced.
‘How can someone who urged them not to do it, then pay it back.
‘It was the council’s choice to do all of this, it was ridiculous.’
‘But the council went ahead in doing it, and so it wants to think very seriously about its actions.’
Mr Hancock will be sent a letter demanding he pays up once all councillors meet on October 14 to agree whether the £38,000 city solicitor Michael Lawther says has been spent is right.
Mr Lawther is to provide a full breakdown of costs, which included £20,000 being paid to QC Nigel Pascoe to produce a report into Mr Hancock’s conduct.
Cllr Jones, who chaired the panel which oversaw the investigation into Mr Hancock’s behaviour, said: ‘I will be seeking to claim this money from Mr Hancock, and I have not ruled out going to a small claims court to recoup the money from him through bailiffs.
‘It is absolutely shocking and despicable that he has made this announcement.’
As reported, Mr Hancock apologised for forming an inappropriate friendship with the woman this summer, but claims that he sexually assaulted her were dropped as part of an out-of-court settlement which included an undisclosed fee being paid to the victim.
Labour councillor John Ferrett, who sat on the committee which made the decision yesterday, said: ‘Why did he wait to apologise until all of that money had been spent?
‘His attitude shows a complete disregard to not only the victim, but to the taxpayers of Portsmouth.’
It’s been estimated the total cost of the investigation was £150,000 when taking into account the time spent by Mr Lawther on it, but he says that can’t be taken into account as he doesn’t bill for his time.
Mr Hancock is an independent MP and has resigned from the Liberal Democrats after being suspended from the party over claims about his behaviour surfaced earlier this year.
‘All options will be explored’ should MP refuse to pay
PORTSMOUTH South MP Mike Hancock will be given 14 days to respond to the letter once it has been sent.
If he responds saying he will not pay back costs or chooses to ignore what is being asked of him, then the council’s complaints panel will consider taking legal action to reclaim costs at its next meeting on November 7.
Michael Lawther, the council’s city solicitor, will say how much it will cost taxpayers should the authority decide to take Mr Hancock to court. Mr Lawther says that if Mr Hancock refuses to pay, he will ‘explore all the options open to the council.’