Lib Dem faces probe over claims she secretly filmed victim of Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock

Margaret Foster
Margaret Foster
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A LIB DEM councillor is to be investigated over allegations she filmed a woman subjected to the advances of Mike Hancock during a council meeting.

Cllr Margaret Foster is said to have used a mobile phone to record the female constituent, who was sitting in the public gallery while watching a Portsmouth City Council debate.

Southsea resident Paul Hartley says he saw what happened and made a complaint to the council about Cllr Foster’s actions.

A complaints panel has now determined Cllr Foster will be referred for investigation to determine if she broke the authority’s code of conduct.

The woman has anonymity for life by law after it was first alleged in 2010 that Mr Hancock – the MP for Portsmouth South – behaved inappropriately towards her during his time as a councillor. Mr Hartley says Cllr Foster was in danger of identifying her. Councillors are not allowed to film in meetings, while the public can.

Addressing the complaints panel, Mr Hartley said: ‘Some members, perhaps through a sense of misplaced loyalty and the inability to be able to differentiate between personal friendships and civic duty, continue to act in a bullying, intimidating and prejudicial manner.

‘Their insulting and unjust behaviour brings shame and disrepute on the whole of Portsmouth City Council.

‘I have watched with dismay from the public gallery over the years the childish behaviour exhibited by the previous Lib Dem administration.’

The woman said: ‘Every time I turn up to a council meeting, I am harangued and harassed by members of the Lib Dems or their supporters.

‘I have now written to Nick Clegg about the bullying culture in Portsmouth.’

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, insists Cllr Foster did not film anything.

‘I have had a meeting with her and Michael Lawther [the city solicitor] and it just seems to be a misunderstanding,’ he said. ‘There was no filming that took place, there was nothing on the phone.’

Cllr Foster did not respond to calls from The News.