Portsmouth Lib Dems seek new candidate while MP Mike Hancock suspended by party

We reported last Friday the news that Mike Hancock, the MP for Portsmouth South who resigned the Lib Dem whip last year to contest allegations of sexual assault against him, had won the backing of Portsmouth Lib Dems.

However, the local party has since confirmed it will be pushing ahead with selecting a candidate for the 2015 election. With Mike Hancock currently suspended by the national party, he will be unable to put himself forward for re-selection. In short, he has been de-selected as a Lib Dem MP (unless his suspension is lifted).

Local party chair Simon Dodds is quoted telling the Portsmouth News: ‘We need to push ahead with selecting a candidate and to have the best Lib Dem candidate in place for Portsmouth.’ While Mike Hancock is also quoted: ‘I’ll make the decision whether I stand as an MP or not when I decide, not when people are trying to make a decision when they know it will be impossible for me to be involved in it. I don’t think that it’s a very fair thing to do. I’d have thought they at least owed me that to wait for the civil case.’

The local paper also gives further background to the decision reached by the Portsmouth Lib Dem council group that Mike Hancock should retain his city council cabinet position while serving as an Independent councillor. This prompted the resignation of Portsmouth Lib Dem councillor Eleanor Scott from the council group at the weekend: ‘I’m sure that many people in the group are reflecting on their positions, and I just hope they can all do the right thing. I do remain a member of the Liberal Democrat party and I am in touch with the pastoral care officer about how I can help to start to put things right with the administration. I do remain very committed to the council.’

(Editor’s note: we have contacted Portsmouth Lib Dems and will update with any statement as and when we receive it.)

UPDATE 09:39am: We’ve been sent the statement from Simon Dodd, chair of Portsmouth Lib Dems, issued on Sunday night:

The Executive Committee of Portsmouth Liberal Democrats has today held a special meeting.

The Executive regrets the inconclusive nature of the meeting of the Portsmouth City Council Liberal Democrat Group held on Friday 24 January 2014.

The Executive is ready and willing to work with the Group to resolve matters.

The Executive unreservedly supports Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s continuing leadership of Portsmouth City Council. Under Gerald’s leadership, the Council has protected frontline services and jobs whilst maintaining the lowest council tax in the area.

The Executive has clearly reconfirmed its belief in natural justice and the right of Mike Hancock to fully respond in due course to the allegations made against him. We reiterate our belief that it is for the court to reach its conclusions based on all the evidence.

The Executive is continuing the process of selecting parliamentary candidates for Portsmouth North and Portsmouth South constituencies to stand at the general election in May 2015 and will be continuing our efforts to contest all wards in the city in the upcoming elections in May 2014.

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  • Let’s hope the Lib Demcandidate selected will be someone willing to help Cllr Scott, who resigned the other day, ‘clean out the Augean Stables’ and the fix the ‘unacceptable culture’ [both her reported her terms] that she alleges exists ?

  • John Ramsbottom 28th Jan '14 - 11:32am

    This is very undemocratic. Why not wait until the conclusion of the court case?

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