Leaders demand QC’s report is made public

SUBJECT Cllr Mike Hancock
SUBJECT Cllr Mike Hancock
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CITY leaders have stepped up their bid to get a report into Mike Hancock’s conduct made public.

Portsmouth’s Labour and Conservative groups will present a notice of motion at the next meeting of the full council on January 21 demanding the action be taken.

As reported, the report by QC Nigel Pascoe, produced for Portsmouth City Council, concerns allegations that Cllr Hancock sexually assaulted a woman who came to him for help. Party leaders say it’s time to release the details since they’ve been leaked by the national press and the cost of the council’s investigation has cost more than £30,000.

It’s also been claimed that Mr Pascoe has asked for his findings to be put out in the open.

Councillor John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said: ‘It is unhelpful to all concerned, not least Councillor Hancock, to have national newspapers drip-feeding salacious excerpts from the report.

‘It is also deeply concerning that the council is spending yet more public money preventing the report from being made public, when a newspaper already has it in their possession.’

The council has revealed the £18,800 it paid Mr Pascoe to carry out the report was £1,000 cheaper than anticipated because he did not interview Cllr Hancock, which would have taken one day.

While Cllr Hancock’s spokesman and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, have said he was not allowed to take part in Mr Pascoe’s investigation, city solicitor Michael Lawther has claimed at a meeting that Cllr Hancock did not want to.

Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy leader of Portsmouth’s Conservative group, said: ‘The top lawyer who authored the report says it should be published.

‘Moreover any attempt to keep secret a document that the media already possesses is doomed to fail and just makes the council look foolish.’

Cllr Donna Jones, chairwoman of the panel which has been investigating whether Cllr Hancock broke the council’s code of conduct over the claims, said: ‘The public have a right to see it.’