A COMPLAINT about a councillor ‘liking’ a Facebook picture of Mike Hancock and Jimmy Savile has been thrown out.
Portsmouth City Council was told that Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the Conservative group, liked an image on the social media website that was modified to include Cllr Hancock with the paedophile DJ, who died in 2011.
Cllr Hancock’s office, which lodged the complaint, felt that in liking the picture, Cllr Jones had affected her position as chairwoman of a panel investigating a complaint into his behaviour.
Cllr Hancock – also a Portsmouth MP – has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman who came to him for help, and is being sued at the High Court by her.
The panel chaired by Cllr Jones has been studying whether the claims amount to a breach of a councillor’s code of conduct.
But the council’s governance and audit and standards committee has now decided she did nothing wrong and will not take further action.
Members were satisfied that even if she had liked the picture – which she strongly denies – she had carried out her role on the panel impartially.
Cllr Jones insists someone must have doctored the drop-down box showing who liked the image to include her name.
She also said that she reported the offensive picture to the council’s city solicitor as soon as she knew it existed.
Cllr Jones said: ‘This complaint has caused me stress and concern, but my confidence was restored in the complaints process when the assessment sub-committee threw the complaint out in less than five minutes, saying there was no case to answer.
‘Mike is clearly going through a very difficult time and by his own admission is suffering with mental ill health. However, to submit a complaint in the first place, he would have given it a considerable amount of thought.’
The picture has now been removed from Facebook.
A spokesman for Mike Hancock, who is recovering from ill health, said: ‘It is important that councillors sitting on standards committees are impartial. Obviously supporting a Facebook posting against a councillor you are hearing a complaint against can call this into serious question.’