Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock quits Liberal Democrat whip to fight sexual allegations

 

The Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock quit the party whip last night to defend himself against accusations he made improper sexual advances to a constituent.

The Portsmouth South MP made the announcement after a meeting with the party's leader Nick Clegg.

His moves follows an allegation from a constituent, who is described as vulnerable, that he behaved inappropriately towards her after she visited him at a constituency surgery.

She is taking a civil case against him after police dropped their investigation.

A Lib Dem spokesman said: "Mike Hancock strenuously denies the allegations made in the civil case and intends to clear his name in court."

The MP was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault in 2010 but never charged. He was accused of "inappropriate behaviour", which he denied, towards a female constituent following a series of visits he made to her home. It was alleged he placed his hand on her breast, exposed himself and kissed her without consent.

In a letter to party chief whip Alistair Carmichael, Mr Hancock wrote: “‘I can assure you that I will continue to vigorously defend my position and that I completely refute the allegations made against me. I’m doing this in the best interests of the party nationally and in Portsmouth and for my family. I will continue to work hard for my constituents in Portsmouth as I have always done.”

But the fallout is likely to send shockwaves through the Liberal Democrat party which is still reeling in the aftermath of allegations. 

The woman's solicitor, Harriet Wistrich, said she wrote to the party in October 2011 after her client failed to receive a proper reply having written "one email and two full letters of complaint" to Clegg's office earlier that year. Clegg was asked by the LBC radio presented Nick Ferrari why he did not reply to a written complaint he received in March 2011 about Hancock's behaviour.

Clegg told Ferrari: "My office never received one of the letters from the complainant's solicitors. We did receive a letter in February of this year. You'll be aware, I hope, because I think it's only fair to point this out, that the police have looked into this matter before, have dismissed it."
Mr Hancock also hit the headlines in 2011 when he had an affair with his aide, Katia Zatuliveter, who was accused of being a Russian spy. But the Special Immigration Appeals Commission said it had seen nothing to support the allegations against Miss Zatuliveter and she won an appeal against deportation.

Mr Hancock has been an MP since 1997. He had major heart surgery last year after suffering from angina.

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