Mike Hancock has been suspended by the Liberal Democrats after a report into claims of sexual misconduct was leaked today.
While Cllr Hancock had already resigned the parliamentary whip – making him an independent MP – he still represented the Liberal Democrats as a ward councillor.
Now, the national party has taken the step of suspending his membership with immediate effect.
It comes after claims he sexually assaulted one of his female constituents, a claim Mr Hancock strongly denies and is currently contesting in a High Court civil action.
A police investigation into the claims found no further action should be taken.
Earlier today, a report compiled on the matter for Portsmouth City Council by QC Nigel Pascoe was leaked.
A spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats said: ‘The Liberal Democrats have this afternoon, for the first time, had sight of a Portsmouth City Council report by Nigel Pascoe QC into allegations of sexual impropriety by Mike Hancock.
‘Mike Hancock resigned as a Liberal Democrat MP last year in order to contest allegations of sexual impropriety in a High Court civil action.
‘Given Nigel Pascoe QC’s conclusions in his report, we have immediately suspended Mike Hancock’s membership of the party.’
As reported in The News, Mr Pascoe has called for the report to be made public.
Prior to the announcement Mr Hancock was to be suspended from the Lib Dems, his spokesman released a statement on the allegations.
It said: ‘These matters have twice been looked at by the police, first in 2010, and in conjunction with the CPS, they have found that there is no case for Mr Hancock to answer and have taken no further action.
‘Portsmouth standards sub-committee has yet to meet to hear evidence including from Mike Hancock as it decided to postpone that hearing until after the associated civil court case.
‘Unfortunately due to the ongoing civil case, Mike received legal advice that he should not give evidence to the council’s investigator.
‘He looks forward to giving his evidence when the sub-committee meets after the conclusion of the civil case. Mike Hancock asked to meet with the council’s investigator to explain this and this was denied him despite the city council’s solicitor asking the investigator to meet Mr Hancock.
‘He therefore believes the report which he has not seen is likely to be one-sided.
‘The independent legal advice to Portsmouth City Council noted that the High Court was a better place to establish matters of fact – not least because it could take evidence under oath which the council cannot.
‘The most suitable place to settle a civil case is in court and not in the newspapers.
‘As this is an on-going legal case, it not appropriate for Mike to give a running commentary.
‘In the meantime he will continue to work hard to serve his constituents as an MP and councillor including campaigning for jobs at the dockyard.’