Labour calls for the suspension city councillor Hancock

REPORT City councillor Mike Hancock
REPORT City councillor Mike Hancock

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CALLS have been made for city councillor Mike Hancock to be suspended from the council cabinet after an independent report found he breached the code of conduct.

Fellow city councillor and Portsmouth Labour group leader John Ferrett has called for his suspension with immediate effect.

It comes after a council sub-committee decided Cllr Hancock should face a hearing over his conduct next month following the report by barrister Nigel Pascoe QC.

In a letter to council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cllr Ferrett wrote: ‘Given the severity of the allegations and Nigel Pascoe QC’s findings, I call upon you to suspend Cllr Hancock from the cabinet with immediate effect.’

Cllr Ferrett called for the Portsmouth South MP’s resignation in a letter to Cllr Vernon-Jackson in April. However this was rejected.

Cllr Hancock faces a civil action over claims he sexually assaulted a vulnerable constituent who asked for help. He denies this.

Cllr Hancock said he has not been alerted to the letter. He said: ‘It’s all very predictable. They ought to await the outcome of the court case before they rush to make any decision.

‘I didn’t give evidence at the meeting. I haven’t seen the report. I asked to see the man carrying out the investigation. He refused to see me.’

He added: ‘I will continue to work for Portsmouth and the people of Fratton and the city as I have done in the past and as I have done through the whole drawn-out episode.’

Cllr Hancock was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault in connection with the sex assault allegations in 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence and he was never charged.

In June he said he was stepping down from the Lib Dems parliamentary party while he contested the allegations.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he has not yet received the letter. He added: ‘The sub-committee has decided that there is a case to answer but not what the conclusion of that is or whether Mike is guilty or not. It seems premature to me to fire somebody before a committee has made that decision.’