‘I have got myself into this situation... I feel dreadful’

Mike Hancock MP talks to the News at his office in Southsea over questions about his employment of a Russian assistant
Mike Hancock MP talks to the News at his office in Southsea over questions about his employment of a Russian assistant
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MIKE HANCOCK has told of his ‘regret’ over claims made about his private life.

The Portsmouth Lib Dem MP spoke to The News as a deportation hearing into his former parliamentary assistant Katia Zatuliveter – who is accused of being a Russian spy – closed yesterday.

In the course of the two-week hearing Ms Zatuliveter, 26, claimed she had a four-year affair with Mr Hancock, which started in 2006.

The 65-year-old MP refused to comment on her specific claims, but said: ‘I have got myself into this situation.

‘I feel dreadful. It’s horrible. I have done things I regret very much, and I’m having to pay the price for that now.

‘I have made peace with the people I have to, but I can’t turn the clock back. I got myself into this situation and I must take responsibility for that.

‘I have to live through it. I’m doing that by performing my duties to my city. But this has been very painful and hurtful to the people I care about.

‘They have been very hurt and are still hurt. And it’s my fault. I have done my best to make peace with them. I can’t do anything more.’

But he vowed not to step down from his role as MP for Portsmouth South.

He said: ‘I have a job to do and I will continue in it. That’s what I’m doing now. I won’t let it affect the work I do as an MP and a representative for this city. I have to just get on with it and I have to do that day by day, but I’m not going to walk away. The press are having a field day, but that happens to politicians. It will move onto the next person.’

The MP has faced allegations about his private life before, and escaped unscathed.

And despite fears about Ms Zatuliveter’s possible involvement in espionage, he denied his current situation was more serious than those caused by previous claims.

He said. ‘It’s no different, not better or worse. People make mischief on mischief. I can’t stop them. All I can do is continue to do my best for the people I represent.’

Ms Zatuliveter was ordered to leave the country in December, after the Home Office and MI5 claimed she was a spy working for the Russian government.

She denies the allegation, and has been attempting to overturn the order at a Special Immigration Appeals Commission hearing. She was employed by Mr Hancock as a parliamentary assistant from mid-2008 to December 2010.

Mr Hancock has not been accused of any illegal act, and parliamentary security officers have confirmed Ms Zatuliveter, who was his parliamentary assistant from mid-2008-December 2010, underwent full security checks.

As a result, only the local Portsmouth Lib Dem party could force him to step down.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council’s Lib Dem group, said: ‘There’s been no discussion within the local party about Mike’s position.

‘He’s an excellent MP. He works incredibly hard for the people of this city. There has never been any doubt about it, and he must remain in place to continue that job. His position has never been in doubt and has not been discussed.’

No final judgment on Ms Zatuliveter’s case will be made until the end of November.