Clegg takes action over Hancock

The Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock is to face disciplinary procedures, Lib Dem leader NIck Clegg announced tonight.

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MP's disciplinary meeting with Clegg

Click video. Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock is facing a disciplinary meeting with Nick Clegg next Monday - after being accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour in a civil court case.

The 66 year old - who denies the allegations - is being sued by one of his constituents. He was arrested in 2010 but a criminal investigation was dropped over insufficient evidence. Mr Hancock says he won't be bullied out of his job. Phil Hornby reports.

Hancock: New Lib Dem statement

“Following Mike Hancock’s receipt of legal papers in a High Court civil action, Nick Clegg asked the Chief Whip to convene an urgent meeting under the disciplinary procedures of the parliamentary party between Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes, the Chief Whip and Mike Hancock.

"This meeting will take place in Westminster on Monday afternoon.

“Mike Hancock strenuously denies the accusations. We are not pre-judging the outcome of the case, but given the seriousness of the allegations, Nick Clegg has instructed the Chief Whip to invoke the disciplinary procedures of the party.


PICTURE: Clegg's childcare pledge for Kent children

Nick Clegg reads to children at the Bright Beginnings Nursery, Gravesend. Credit: John Ryall

Nick Clegg is in Kent today encouraging parents of toddlers to check if they can get free childcare.

From this September, the Government says 15 hours of free childcare a week will be made available to 3,100 two year olds from lower income backgrounds across the county.

The Deputy Prime Minister met parents, staff and children at the Bright Beginnings Nursery, Gravesend.

He said: “High quality early learning can make a huge difference to children at the start of their lives. By getting things right from the off, they are much more likely to be ready when they start school.

“I want to make sure no child in Kent loses out. I’m determined to help parents with young children and this is just a part of a wide range of measures, including £1,200 off childcare bills for working families and and allowing parents to share maternity leave for the first time from 2015.”

Parents can find out if their child is eligible by contacting either their local nursery provider or their local authority.

Places will initially be targeted on children from households which meet the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals and those who are looked after by their local authority.


Hancock says Lib Dem meeting will be next week

Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock has told our political correspondent Phil Hornby the meeting can't take place today.

He points out that one of the participants, deputy leader Simon Hughes is abroad, and another, the Chief Whip is in Scotland.

Mr Hancock also says he has 'unbreakable' medical appointments today and tomorrow, and he expects the meeting to take place sometime next week.

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Clegg says he is looking at suspending Mike Hancock

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has confirmed he will hold a meeting later today to decide whether to suspend Mike Hancock, who has been accused of sexual assault in a High Court civil action.

Mr Clegg said that "as leader of the party, you have got to react when allegations of this seriousness are made".

I immediately asked our chief whip to start disciplinary proceedings, including the possiblity of suspending the party whip.

The next step is that a meeting is held, between myself, my deputy Simon Hughes, the chief whip and Mike Hancock, and I am hoping to do that today at the very earliest opportunity.

As leader of the party, you have got to react when allegations of this seriousness are made, you can't just sit there on your hands.

– Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Mr Clegg, who was speaking on LBC, added that: "The nature of the allegations are very serious, and they are allegations at the moment, I have got to stress that."

Mr Hancock denies the claims.

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