Portsmouth leader pledges to spend Mike Hancock cash on theatres

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock

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THE leader of Portsmouth’s council has pledged she will spend any money recouped from Mike Hancock on supporting the city’s cultural scene.

Portsmouth City Council yesterday declared it is satisfied the amount spent investigating whether Mr Hancock acted inappropriately towards a woman was £38,236.

It now means a letter will be drawn up on Friday that demands the former Fratton councillor, who is still the Portsmouth South MP, repays the cash, which covered the hiring of QC Nigel Pascoe to lead the inquiry.

And Councillor Donna Jones, the authority’s leader, says she will give £20,000 of that to the trust that runs Portsmouth Guildhall and hand over the rest to The Kings Theatre and the New Theatre Royal.

‘If Mike Hancock pays that money back, I will be awarding £20,000 to the Guildhall trust for this amazing building, to keep it going, and I will be awarding £9,118 to New Theatre Royal and will award the same amount to The Kings Theatre because I really think cultural services in this city are important.’

But Mr Hancock has again told The News he won’t pay up and said members were pursuing him for political gain.

‘The money is nothing to do with me,’ he said. ‘I told the council not to do this.

‘It has no legal power to get this money from me and I have no intention of paying for something that I don’t have anything to do with and it is doing it as something to keep coming back at me on.’

Once the letter is finalised, councillors will have two weeks to decide if they want to sign it in support before it is sent. As reported, Mr Hancock apologised this summer for forming an inappropriate friendship with the victim.

Lib Dem councillors Matthew Winnington, Leo Madden and Lynne Stagg, Mr Hancock’s former party colleagues, declared they will put their name to the letter and spoke of their disappointment he denied his actions for four years.

Cllr Winnington said: ‘He lied and lied and lied to us, he lied to us in group meetings and lied to this council.’

Despite the claims, the MP assured he never lied. ‘I can assure you, I never lied to any of them,’ he said.

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said there had been ‘no greater loss’ of trust in local politics as a result of the Hancock scandal.

Mr Hancock has resigned from the Lib Dems after being suspended from the party when details of his behaviour surfaced.