Legal uncertainty over bid to make Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock pay investigation fees

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock
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MIKE Hancock may have to cough up more than £38,000 as an updated bill for the probe into his behaviour has been revealed.

It comes as politicians are unsure if they have legal rights to force the Portsmouth South MP to pay the £38,236.

A committee had agreed to pursue the MP for the cost of external legal advice into the conduct investigation after he admitted and apologised for forging an inappropriate relationship with a constituent.

But Mr Hancock said: ‘It’s a political game they’re playing.

‘I’m not going to be party to it. I’m sure they haven’t got the legal right. I’m not paying for something I had no part in.

‘They decided to do this. I told them to wait, they didn’t.’

Councillors at Portsmouth City Council will decide at full council next week how much cash they want him to pay.

Tory city council leader Donna Jones said: ‘I’m advocating for Mike to pay back all the professional fees.

‘Morally he has an obligation to pay this back.

‘He could have dealt with this four years ago.

‘All of that stuff would have not been spent.’

If councillors agree, the city council will write to Mr Hancock, formerly Lib Dem Fratton ward member, asking him for the cash back.

But when asked if the council has any legal right to pursue him further, Cllr Jones said the city solicitor Michael Lawther is looking into it.

‘If there’s a legal way I can pursue this money then I will,’ she added.

The total cost of the investigation could be as much as £150,000 but the authority cannot calculate officer’s time.

Deputy leader Cllr Luke Stubbs added: ‘I’m not sure about the legality of it. It’s probably extremely difficult.’

The costs broken down in full are:

- January 2013: Advice in relation to possible adjournment of proceedings – Ian Wise QC – £1,000;

- May 2013: Attendance at initial consideration hearing at request of sub-committee – Ian Wise QC – £4,726;

- September 2013: Further advice including conference to advise sub-committee – Ian Wise QC – 2,600;

- September 2013: Fee in respect of investigation required by sub-committee including all steps up to and including report for consideration sub-committee – Nigel Pascoe QC – £18,800;

- October 2013: Further advice on procedure in relation to a complaint against a Councillor (at request of sub-committee) – Elisabeth Laing QC – £4,610

- March 2014: Attendance at court to oppose application for third party disclosure – Christopher Knight – £1,000

- April 2014: Applicant’s costs payable by PCC in respect of third party disclosure application – £5,500