‘My personal life is my own... it’s never impeded my ability to be an MP’

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock

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MIKE Hancock has insisted his personal life does not have any bearing on his role as an MP.

Details of the Lib Dem’s sex life were laid bare during a case against a rival election candidate who falsely alleged Mr Hancock was a paedophile.

Mr Hancock admitted he has had extra-marital affairs while giving evidence against Les Cummings, who was found guilty of lying about him in his campaign leaflets.

During a three-day trial at Southampton Magistrates’ Court, the Portsmouth South MP said he has never had an affair with anyone aged under 17 or anyone who was still at school.

He told The News: ‘I have done nothing. I have committed no criminal act, I have told the truth in court.

‘My personal life has been written about for the last 14 years.

‘It has never impeded my judgment or my ability to do my work as an MP.’

He added: ‘I have never claimed to be a perfect human being, I have got faults like everyone else has. If everyone else stood up and told the truth about their personal lives – I wouldn’t think many people would have done so.

‘My personal life is mine and I don’t intend to discuss it with anyone else.’

His comments were backed up by Lib Dem city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

He said: ‘It just shows what an incredibly hard-working and effective person Mike is, that he is able to do so much for local people when he has been subjected to this appalling vendetta.

‘It is his personal life. It should be left as that. I don’t expect him to be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’

Cllr Steve Wemyss, leader of Portsmouth’s Tory group, said politicians were entitled to a private life.

‘While some might not think much of Mike Hancock’s conduct it is still his private life,’ he said. ‘It is a matter between him and his wife.

‘I still believe a person’s private life should be just that.’

Cummings was fined £500 on Thursday after being found guilty of producing a leaflet falsely stating Mr Hancock is a paedophile with the purpose of affecting the return of the general election.

The leaflet also falsely stated Mr Hancock had an affair with a 14-year-old schoolgirl and was seen in bed with children in Romania while doing charity work.

Cummings, 66, stood against Mr Hancock as a candidate for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party. However Mr Hancock was returned as MP with an increased majority.

Mr Hancock says he ‘won’t waste a penny’ on pursuing the man who falsely accused him of being a paedophile in an election leaflet.

The Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South branded Les Cummings a ‘complete waste of time’ after he was found guilty of lying about him in his campaign leaflets.

It also falsely stated that Mr Hancock had an affair with a 14-year-old schoolgirl and was seen in bed with children in Romania while doing charity work.

But Mr Hancock says he will take no further action against Cummings. However he will consider whether to sue Cummings’ former election agent Leonardo Ciccarone and former Portsmouth city councillor Jezz Baker, who gave evidence during the three-day trial at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Hancock said: ‘I’m not going to waste a penny of my money on Mr Cummings. I may take action against some of the people who gave evidence for Mr Cummings because they have got resources. Mr Cummings is a complete waste of time.

‘I will look very closely at what Mr Ciccarone had to say, what Mr Baker had to say – he was somebody who went to prison. I think Mr Baker and Mr Ciccarone could find themselves in further difficulties.

‘My barrister told me that a High Court writ to sue Mr Cummings would cost between £25,000 or £35,000 and I would have little chance of getting my money back.

‘The important thing is Cummings was found guilty of lying.’

Mr Hancock’s accuser Les Cummings received a death threat in a letter sent before his trial, a court was told.

Southampton magistrates imposed an order that banned Mr Cummings’s home address from being published.

The order came because Mr Cummings was said to have been sent a letter before his case was heard which told him to ‘plead guilty or die’.

It was not said who was thought to have sent the letter.

The court was told that Mr Cummings feared his safety was at risk if his address was published.

The court imposed a Section 11 order under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, which blocked the reporting of the address.

At the end of the trial The News applied for the order to be lifted.

But Heather Norton argued it was not necessary to lift the order in the public interest.

‘There were reasons why the order was imposed and those have not changed,’ she said.

Despite the application from The News, District Judge Anthony Calloway said: ‘I am minded to leave [the restriction] on the footing that Miss Norton has said.’