QC’s political past at centre of row over assault case

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock

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MIKE Hancock has been criticised for suggesting an investigation into his conduct was a political plot to bring him down by the Tories.

Portsmouth City Council hired QC Nigel Pascoe to write a report into the independent councillor’s conduct after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her.

Now a letter written on Mr Hancock’s behalf by his local aide makes reference to the fact that Mr Pascoe – tasked with hearing the woman’s evidence – was a former Conservative county councillor.

And it said Mr Hancock would be ‘strongly contesting’ Mr Pascoe’s evidence when it goes to the High Court – where the alleged victim has filed a civil claim against him.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the Conservative group, who has been chairwoman of the council’s panel investigating Mr Hancock’s behaviour, attacked the party reference being made.

‘Nigel Pascoe is a criminal barrister, he is a member of the bar,’ she said.

‘Once again this is another attempt to smear the investigation against him. There is no political involvement in the complaint. I have never spoken to or met Nigel Pascoe.’

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, criticised the local Lib Dems for continuing to promote Mr Hancock – despite being suspended from the party – since the letter was printed from 220 Fratton Road – where the party’s office is.

The party said the letter was printed by Liberty Press Portsmouth, a service based at the back in another room that does printing for any organisation.

Mr Hancock’s alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: ‘Michael Hancock claimed last week in an application to the High Court, that he did not have the mental capacity to instruct his lawyers to defend himself.

‘I now find out at the same time he is signing letters to his Fratton ward constituents about his election campaign.’

Mr Pascoe said he was a former Tory councillor and a former liberal councillor, but had not been associated with any political party for the last 25 years.

He said: ‘In my time I have voted for all three parties.

‘I therefore resent any suggestion that I have shown any bias towards Mr Hancock, and the suggestion should be withdrawn as soon as possible.’

Mr Hancock, who is suffering with health problems, hopes to be out of hospital ‘as soon as possible’ and is still defending his seat in Portsmouth’s Fratton ward on May 22.

Lib Dem councillor Michael Andrewes, Mr Hancock’s aide, said: ‘Factual information in the public domain about Mike’s civil case was included in the letter.’