First Portsmouth councillor to sign Mike Hancock note backs move

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THE first councillor to sign a letter calling for Mike Hancock to pay back the £38,000 cost of a probe into his conduct has reiterated why the MP must oblige.

Portsmouth City Council is sending the letter to Mr Hancock asking him to settle the bill incurred during its inquiry into his behaviour.

The wording was put together by city solicitor Michael Lawther and signed off by David Williams, the authority’s chief executive.

Tory councillor Simon Bosher, who chaired the panel which agreed to the demand being made to Mr Hancock, was the first elected member to put his name to the letter in an act of support.

The bill was run up during the investigation into whether the former Fratton councillor acted inappropriately towards a vulnerable female constituent.

He later admitted to behaving inappropriately.

Cllr Bosher, who represents Drayton and Farlington, said: ‘Mr Hancock spent four years wasting money that could have been better spent in a variety of other ways.

‘The leader of the council has already identified her wish-list of things that money could be spent on, but there is every other councillor who will have thought about how that money could have been spent in their ward.’

The letter contains a breakdown of how the £38,236 was spent, including the £18,800 paid to QC Nigel Pascoe to carry out the council’s investigation.

Cllr Donna Jones, the council leader, has declared that should Mr Hancock pay up, the cash will go to the city’s theatres and Portsmouth Guildhall.

But Labour leader, Cllr John Ferrett, argued the cash should be spent protecting public services.

Every councillor who went to the authority’s latest meeting of the full council approved to the final bill and letter being sent, bar Central Southsea Lib Dem councillor Phil Smith, who voted against.

Cllr Smith said: ‘The investigation was entirely appropriately carried out and the legal advice sought was necessary.’

Every city councillor will be given the opportunity in the next two weeks to decide whether they want to sign the letter before it is sent off to the independent MP, who represents Portsmouth South.

Mr Hancock is a former Lib Dem and resigned from the party after details of his conduct surfaced this year.

Lib Dem Fratton councillor David Fuller said he was not sure if he would sign the letter and would have to look at both points of view.

‘I’ll have to look at both sides of it,’ Cllr Fuller said. ‘I haven’t made a decision yet.’

It is expected the letter will be sent to Mr Hancock, who has repeatedly said he will not pay the money, on Friday, October 31, or the following Monday.

Council’s letter to MP

‘Dear Mr Hancock,

Costs incurred in investigation of the complaint made against you... on behalf of the lady known as ‘Annie’.

Following the council meeting on 14th October I am writing to you, at the request of the council, to ask that you pay the sum of £38,236 which represents the external costs incurred by the council in investigating the above complaint.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely, David Williams, Chief Executive’