LIB DEM leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson admits he was wrong to defend Mike Hancock and has said sorry to the victim for the hurt she’s been caused.
He said: ‘For two years, Mike has been telling everybody that he was going to fight this in court and that there was no truth in all of this.
‘Then right at the last moment, Mike, for whatever reason, has decided to make an apology.
‘Absolutely devastated is how I feel about this.
‘I took Mike’s word on this, and clearly I should not have done. I absolutely apologise to the woman.
‘That he did this while he was part of my party is terrible.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson has faced scrutiny after he said on television last year – when he was leader of Portsmouth City Council – that ‘this is a civil case that’s been launched by one person trying to get some money from somebody else’.
Mr Hancock has since said in his apology that his victim was not in it for the money.
Cllr Donna Jones, now leader of the council, and Labour leader, Cllr John Ferrett, have now again called for Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s resignation.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said his comments weren’t malicious.
‘In a civil case the only thing that happens is that money is given from one person to another,’ he said.
He insists he took immediate action against Mr Hancock and removed him from the council’s cabinet once details about his behaviour came to light.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson doubts Mr Hancock will be allowed to retain his membership to the Lib Dem national party.
‘It won’t be my decision to take, but I would be very surprised,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Lib Dem Cllr Les Stevens, who sat on the council committee that investigated Mr Hancock’s conduct, maintains it did the right thing in delaying proceedings while the MP was still a councillor as there was a lack of evidence at the time.