1. ITV Report

Liberal Democrats suspend MP after report finds 'compelling' evidence of sexual impropriety

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock. Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire

A backbench MP has been suspended by the Liberal Democrats after a report found "compelling" evidence of "serious and unwelcome sexual behaviour" towards a woman constituent.

Mike Hancock voluntarily resigned the Lib Dem parliamentary whip last year to contest a High Court civil action alleging sexual impropriety.

Police decided he had no case to answer, but a report commissioned by Portsmouth City Council prompted the Lib Dems to take action.

The alleged victim in the case told ITV News that she does not believe the party has taken her claims seriously.

Mr Hancock denies all of the allegations against him.

ITV News' Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports:

Portsmouth City Council decided not to make the report public due to the proceedings in the High Court, but it was leaked to the press.

Report author Nigel Pascoe QC writes in it:

I consider that the prima facie evidence of his unwelcome sexual approaches remains unquestionably a very serious matter in the light of the position which he holds and his knowledge from the beginning of the vulnerability of [the complainant].

No one in public life should allow themselves to act in such an irresponsible and damaging way.

– report by Nigel Pascoe QC

The report also contained details of text messages allegedly sent by Mr Hancock to the complainant. The messages are reproduced by ITV News below:

TV News reconstruction showing text messages allegedly sent by Mike Hancock to the complainant Credit: ITV News

The Lib Dems responded with the following statement today:

The Liberal Democrats have this afternoon, for the first time, had sight of a Portsmouth City Council report by Nigel Pascoe QC into allegations of sexual impropriety by Mike Hancock.

Mike Hancock resigned as a Liberal Democrat MP last year in order to contest allegations of sexual impropriety in a High Court civil action.

Given Nigel Pascoe QC’s conclusions in his report, we have immediately suspended Mike Hancock’s membership of the party.

The alleged victim told ITV News that she feels the Lib Dems have not taken her allegations seriously:

Her solicitor told ITV News she believes the Lib Dems should have suspended Mr Hancock three years ago.

Harriet Wistrich added that she believes the party was "pushed into looking at" her client's allegations because of the Lord Rennard scandal:

A solicitor for Portsmouth City Council said that an internal process to decide whether to take action against Mike Hancock has been put on hold "until the High Court action is concluded".

Mr Hancock denies all of the allegations and said today through a spokesman that he has not yet given evidence to Nigel Pascoe QC and that therefore his report is likely to be "one sided".

He said it would not be appropriate for him to "give a running commentary" while legal proceedings were on-going.

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