Councillor who quit Portsmouth’s Lib Dem group over Mike Hancock tells of her frustration

Cllr Eleanor Scott
Cllr Eleanor Scott

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THE councillor who quit Portsmouth’s Lib Dem group in a row over its behaviour has spoken of her frustration at not being taken seriously.

Councillor Eleanor Scott stepped down from her cabinet role at Portsmouth City Council after claiming some colleagues had adopted an ‘aggressive’ attitude.

She was also unhappy with the way city councillor and MP Mike Hancock was backed by the cabinet until he quit over an allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman – something he denies.

Cllr Scott last week met with the national party’s pastoral care officer Jeanne Tarrant – who is tasked with dealing with members’ complaints – to see if she could help address the reasons why she resigned.

But Cllr Scott said the meeting proved unsuccessful, because the officer admitted it wasn’t within her remit to discuss specific detail – and didn’t even know who people like Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, and Cllr Hancock were.

Now Cllr Scott has written to the office of Tim Farron, the national party’s president, in the hope he can do something for her.

She wrote: ‘(The pastoral care officer’s) remit is entirely process-focused and she was unable to discuss Mike Hancock, for example, or the Pascoe report. Indeed she was unaware of who Mike Hancock and Gerald Vernon-Jackson are and what roles they fill, which would be fine when looking purely at process, but doesn’t move my situation any further forward.’

The Lib Dems suspended Mike Hancock from the party last month after obtaining a copy of a report by QC Nigel Pascoe into his conduct.

Speaking to The News, Cllr Scott said: ‘The reasons why I have resigned have still not been resolved and are still with us. I know that people are appalled by the position I have been put in by the local party and the local group.

‘I am frustrated that I seem to be telling my story and every person I speak to seems to tell me that while they have sympathy for my situation, there is nothing they can do.’

Meanwhile, Cllr Scott insists she won’t consider coming back to the group while Cllr Hancock is allowed at group meetings as an independent councillor and the Lib Dem party refuses to run a candidate against his Fratton ward seat in May.

‘I stand by that as a point of principle,’ she said.

A national Lib Dem spokesman said the party would not be able to provide a running commentary on the situation.