Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock faces £150,000 legal bill

Mike Hancock
Mike Hancock

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DISGRACED MP and councillor Mike Hancock will be called on to repay the £150,000 cost of an investigation into his conduct.

Portsmouth City Council has unanimously agreed its complaints panel should write to Mr Hancock demanding he refund the authority what it spent.

Lib Dem group leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the Portsmouth South MP has let down everyone affected by his actions.

‘Mike Hancock has let his constituents down, Portsmouth down and let the Lib Dems down,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.

‘His behaviour here is indefensible.’

As reported, Mr Hancock admitted last month to forging an ‘inappropriate friendship’ with a vulnerable woman who came to him for help over noisy neighbours in October 2009. Mr Hancock had previously insisted he was ‘100 per cent innocent’ and had done nothing wrong.

But renewed calls were made for Cllr Vernon-Jackson to resign from the Lib Dems for standing by Mr Hancock throughout the years.

Cllr Simon Bosher, of the Tories, said Cllr Vernon-Jackson had no ‘spine’ and should have suspended Mr Hancock from his party from the beginning.

Cllr Donna Jones, council leader and who chaired the sub-committee which investigated Mr Hancock’s complaint, criticised the amount of cash squandered.

She said £280 was spent making one phone call to a QC seeking their legal advice.

Lib Dem councillors Leo Madden and Hugh Mason proposed all councillors who had breached the council’s code of conduct should repay costs, but that was dismissed.

It was revealed Mr Hancock’s legal team had wrote to the council demanding it remove the word ‘sexual’ when referring to his conduct in a notice of motion or else he would sue for damages.

Meanwhile, the council also agreed it would tighten up the way it dealt with vulnerable adults in the city to ensure mistakes are never made again. Former Lib Dem councillor John Thompson said: ‘He should have been suspended right from the word go and the victim kept fully informed, just as it says in your disciplinary policy.’

Labour leader, Cllr John Ferrett, said: ‘It’s important we learn lessons as a council as well as those involved in what can be seen as a cover-up.’

Former Liberal Democrat councillor Eleanor Scott criticised its group leader for his handling of the Mike Hancock affair.

Cllr Scott told members at yesterday’s meeting that Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson had not read a dossier by QC Nigel Pascoe into Mr Hancock’s conduct when he said he had.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he saw a copy of Mr Pascoe’s report before she resigned from the cabinet in January.

But Cllr Scott said that was untrue as he confirmed to her on the phone he hadn’t seen it at that point.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem councillor Terry Hall apologised for her role in delaying the council’s probe into Mr Hancock’s conduct, and wished she had not brought suffering to his victim.

Mr Hancock is suspended from the Lib Dems pending a party investigation.