Nick Clegg says Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock could be suspended over sexual assault allegations

MP is being sued by 'vulnerable constituent' accusing him of attack after she contacted him for help in a neighbours dispute

Nick Clegg has said a Liberal Democrat MP could be suspended from the parliamentary party over “very serious” allegations of sexual assault.

Mike Hancock is being sued in a High Court civil action by a "vulnerable" constituent, accusing him of sexual assault after she contacted him for help in a neighbour dispute.

Mr Hancock, who vigorously denied the claims, was arrested by police over the allegations in 2010 but no action was taken as the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg said an internal party disciplinary hearing would take place at the earliest opportunity - possibly today - to establish whether Mr Hancock should have the whip withdrawn.

He said: "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."

Mr Clegg told LBC 97.3: "When I heard yesterday that court papers had been served for some very serious allegations - which I have to stress he denies completely, which when the police looked at it they didn't take further action, so I'm not prejudging that case - I immediately asked our chief whip to start disciplinary proceedings including the possibility of suspending the party whip."

He added: "The next step is that a meeting is held between myself, my deputy Simon Hughes, the chief whip (Alistair Carmichael) and Mike Hancock. We are hoping to do that today at the very earliest possible opportunity."

Mr Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, was also the subject of controversy when his parliamentary assistant, Russian Katia Zatuliveter, was accused by the Security Service of being a spy passing information to Moscow.

However, the 26-year-old, who admitted having an affair with the MP while he sat on the Defence Select Committee, was granted leave to remain in the UK by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) in November 2011.

Mr Hancock said he was not aware of any disciplinary hearing planned for today and would not be able to attend if one was held.

He claimed the way he had been treated by the party was "all a bit odd".

"There is no meeting, I have not been told there's a meeting," he said. "I'm in Portsmouth, I can't be in two places at once."

Mr Hancock, who has had health difficulties and underwent major heart surgery last year, said: "I have medical appointments today and tomorrow, that's the biggest priority in my life at the moment."

The MP added: "I have had no contact with the party at all today. The last conversation I had was at 10pm last night when Alistair Carmichael rang with the press release that I had already heard from journalists. I think it's all a bit odd."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence