Portsmouth’s Liberal Democrat councillors made a defiant challenge to Nick Clegg’s authority tonight, by voting to let Mike Hancock keep his seat on the city’s cabinet, despite having been suspended by the party for alleged sexual misconduct
The astonishing decision, made during a three hour private meeting, comes just hours after a High Court judge overruled the council’s attempt to prevent Hancock’s alleged victim seeing the full report into the scandal.
Hancock was suspended from the national party earlier this week, after a redacted copy of the Pascoe Report into his behaviour was leaked to Scrapbook and Guido. He remains a member of Portsmouth Council – as well as an MP – but currently sits as an independent.
The council’s Lib Dem group broke the news in a brazenly defiant statement, taking Hancock’s side against the national party leadership:
‘Cllr Mike Hancock no longer remains a member of the Portsmouth City Council Liberal Democrat Group because, having had his membership suspended by the party at national level, it is not possible for him to remain a member of the city council group until the suspension is lifted.
The group acknowledges that the suspension has been imposed before the issue to which suspension relates has been properly and fairly determined through due process in the courts.’
It means Hancock – who denies allegations he forced his tongue down the throat of a vulnerable constituent, repeatedly turned up at her house and masturbated on her sofa – will keep his job as cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development.
And the £10,300 pay packet that goes with it.