1. ITV Report

Disgraced MP Mike Hancock sorry for 'degrading' relationship with vulnerable woman

Mike Hancock has been suspended from the Liberal Democrat party, but he is still an MP and councillor. Credit: PA

MP Mike Hancock has been forced to issue a public apology over an "inappropriate and unprofessional" friendship with a female constituent who alleged that the former Liberal Denocrat had sexually assaulted her.

For four years the politician has fought the allegations made by the woman in his Portsmouth South constituency and had always denied all the claims.

Today it emerged that he settled a civil case brought by the unnamed woman out of court and has made a full apology to her.

In a strongly worded statement to the woman, Mr Hancock said that he understood she "felt degraded."

"I did not treat you with sufficient respect," he added. "I made you feel deeply uncomfortable and discriminated against and I crossed the line."

The woman at the centre of the Mike Hancock case told ITV News she didn't expect him to apologise. Credit: ITV News

The woman at the centre of the case told ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan that she wasn't expecting the apology and said she was in shock when she read it.

The mother-of-one has criticised councillors in Portsmouth and senior Liberal Democrats for not taking her claim seriously when she made them in 2010.

In a statement she said she was pleased that Mr Hancock now recognised that she did not bring her claim for financial gain but had only ever sought "justice and an apology".

"I am pleased that there has finally been a resolution to what has been a long and hurtful ordeal for me," she said.

"Since the incidents about which I complained happened back in 2010, my physical and mental health have suffered and I am grateful that I may now have some closure to this traumatic episode in the lives of both myself and my son."

She went on: "Some Liberal Democrat councillors serving on Portsmouth City Council have sought publicly to discredit both myself and my motives for bringing an action against Mr Hancock, ignoring and even trying to undermine the independent investigation report commissioned by their own council from Nigel Pascoe QC."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said he was not made aware of the allegations until the start of 2013. Credit: Pool

The woman said she made repeated complaints to the leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg but nothing was done.

Mr Clegg said that he was not made aware of the allegations until the start of 2013, when the woman's solicitor informed the party she was pursuing a civil action against Mr Hancock, and acted immediately.

A highly critical report into Mr Hancock's conduct was finally published by Portsmouth Council this year that concluded her account was credible and Mr Clegg suspended the MP from the party.

Mike Hancock still acts as an MP and councillor and turned up for work today. Credit: Pool

Mr Hancock was suspended from the Liberal Democrat party in January but he still acts as an MP and councillor.

The party's disciplinary committee is now set to decide the 68-year-old's fate and there is little doubt that the party will expel the MP.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council has called on Mr Hancock to resign: