Former Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock faces censure for not taking part in vote-rigging inquiry

File photo of former MP Mike Hancock. Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire
File photo of former MP Mike Hancock. Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire
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FORMER Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock faces censure after not taking part in a vote-rigging corruption inquiry.

The former Portsmouth South representative, who was resigned from the Lib Dems, faces losing his ‘honorary associate’ title at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (Pace).

He also faces being denied access to its buildings.

Mr Hancock, who lost his seat in 2015, said he had nothing to do with the judge-led inquiry into allegations of a cash-for-votes scandal.

An independent investigation was set up to look into allegations of paid-for favourable votes for Azerbaijan’s government at Pace.

The report said another investigation had said others and Mr Hancock ‘had been seen as friends and frequent guests of (the Azerbaijan capital) Baku’ and had ‘defended’ the autocratic country’s record.

It found Mr Hancock was among the most ‘prominent apologists for Azerbaijan’.

Mr Hancock was investigated in the report for speaking to journalists outside a polling station before the election had finished.

Speaking to The News, Mr Hancock said: ‘All I would say to them if they’ve got any doubts about what I’ve said, just read the speeches I’ve made at the Council of Europe.

‘I’ve been unwell now and I continue to be unwell.

‘I have nothing to do with the Council of Europe.

‘I’ve made it quite clear I have nothing do with whatever the things they were suggesting and all I would say to them is if they want to read my speeches to the Council of Europe they will know what my feelings were at that time.’

The investigation found Mr Hancock had spoken to the country’s media about a 2008 election ‘praising the electoral process before the election day had finished’ and ‘pushed for a more positive statement from Pace’ than one previously agreed about the election.

It noted Mr Hancock, who resigned from the Lib Dems in a scandal in Portsmouth over denied allegations made by a vulnerable constituent, had refused to give evidence to the investigation.

Mr Hancock made an apology for forging an inappropriate friendship with the constituent.

The report said: ‘Following numerous attempts to obtain the contact details of Mr Hancock from various UK and COE authorities and bodies, on November 28, 2017, Mr Hancock telephoned the investigation body’s secretariat and informed it that he would not under any circumstances give oral evidence to the body.

‘He cited health reasons and stressed that he had left the Council of Europe in 2014 and had nothing to say to the body.’

The Guardian reported the inquiry said 15 past and former members had breached an ethics code, and its former president Pedro Agramunt, who denies wrongdoing, will be banned from holding a senior post for 10 years.