‘Friendship’ is reason for support of Hancock

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Clockwise from top left, Hayley North, Helene Birt, Hilary Ward and James Cowlishaw outside court

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A LIB Dem councillor has defended his decision to support a general election candidate not affiliated with his party.

Cllr Les Stevens signed a nomination form in support of independent candidate Mike Hancock, who is standing today in Portsmouth South, as opposed to Lib Dem Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

And Cllr Stevens said his friendship with Mr Hancock was behind his decision.

‘It’s very easy. I have known Mike for 20 years,’ he said.

‘He’s a friend. He came up and said “would you sign my nomination paper”.

‘I have got no beef with Mike or Gerald so I said “yeah sure, I’ll do it”.

‘That was about a week before Gerald came and asked me to sign his nomination paper, and I said I couldn’t because I had already signed Mike’s.

‘I have supported Gerald in his campaign, Gerald has my loyalty, but Mike is my friend.’

Cllr Stevens admitted to protecting Mr Hancock during a probe into the MP’s conduct.