Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Mike Hancock case: Woman wins right to see QC report

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Media captionNick Clegg: "I acted immediately"

The alleged sexual assault victim of MP Mike Hancock has won the right to see a full version of a report about her accusations in court.

Portsmouth City Council, where Mr Hancock is a councillor, opposed the application. A redacted version of the QC's report has already been leaked.

Master Leslie, a High Court official, ruled she should feel she had "a fair hearing and a fair crack of the whip".

Earlier, Nick Clegg insisted he "acted immediately" over the allegations.

Mr Clegg said he acted as soon as he heard of the "appalling" sexual allegations against the backbench MP.

The Liberal Democrat leader made the comment amid claims nothing was done for three years after the party was notified of the complaints.

'Deserved compassion'

Portsmouth South MP Mr Hancock carried out his first official business earlier since being suspended from the party on Wednesday.

QC Nigel Pascoe's report into claims of sexual misconduct towards a female constituent with mental health issues had not been officially published but the Liberal Democrat-led council must now make it available to her.

In the report, Mr Pascoe said the woman deserved "compassion and respect" and the account she gave was "credible".

Lawyers acting for the alleged sexual assault victim of the MP had asked the High Court to force the full disclosure of the report at a forthcoming civil court action.

Speaking after the ruling, the woman's solicitor said her client had faced "barrier after barrier" to having her allegations heard.

Harriet Wistrich said the document would form part of a civil claim she was making against Mr Hancock.

She also criticised the conduct of Portsmouth's Liberal Democrat councillors.

"They've taken a very very obstructive approach to this complaint being looked at properly and I think their conduct is really up for question," she said.

'Seriousness of allegations'

Mr Hancock, who denies the allegations, resigned the parliamentary party whip last year.

After a meeting on Friday afternoon, the council's Liberal Democrat group said he was still a member of the council's cabinet but he "no longer remains" a member of the party group.

It said his suspension by the national party meant he could no longer remain a member of the group.

Mr Clegg, who is also facing criticism over the handling of separate sexual harassment allegations against Lord Rennard, said he had acted last year as soon as he heard a civil case was being brought against the MP.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mike Hancock carried out his first official business earlier after being suspended from the party

"When I was given the specific allegations at the beginning of last year I immediately asked our chief whip to investigate," he said.

"As a result Mike Hancock ceased to be a Lib Dem MP.

"When those allegations were then supported by the QC's report that has come to light this week again we acted immediately and Mike Hancock has been suspended from the Lib Dems altogether."

The Deputy Prime Minister added: "The first time I was given specific allegations was when there was a notification of legal proceedings, which I was informed of at the beginning of last year.

"You can only react to things that are put to you. That is when I acted. I acted immediately because I was as appalled as anyone by the seriousness of these allegations."

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