Mike Hancock (British politician)

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For the mayor of Brantford, Ontario, see Mike Hancock (Canadian politician).
Mike Hancock
CBE MP
Member of Parliament
for Portsmouth South
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by David Martin
Majority 5,200 (12.6%)
In office
14 June 1984 – 11 June 1987
Preceded by Bonner Pink
Succeeded by David Martin
Personal details
Born (1946-04-09) 9 April 1946 (age 68)
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Political party Independent
Other political
affiliations
Liberal Democrats (1988-2014)[1]
Labour (1968–81)
SDP (1981–88)
Spouse(s) Jacqueline Elliott
Children 1 son, 1 daughter
Residence Portchester, Fareham
Website www.mikehancock.co.uk

Michael Thomas Hancock, CBE (born 9 April 1946) is a British politician. He is currently an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South

Hancock formally resigned from the Liberal Democrat whip in early-June 2014 until a civil court action brought against him by a female constituent alleging improper conduct was resolved.[2] An out-of-court settlement with the woman, known only as 'Annie', was reached later in June 2014 in which Hancock admitted that he "crossed the line" into inappropriate behaviour.[3]

He stood as an independent candidate in the 2014 Portsmouth City Council elections and lost his seat in Fratton Ward to UKIP candidate Julie Swan. The Liberal Democrats lost overall control of the council.[4]

There has been speculation that Hancock will run as an Independent candidate in the 2015 General Election.[5] Under the terms of the Parliamentary Resettlement Grant, if he announces he will not be standing as a candidate he will not receive any redundancy pay-out. However, as the incumbent, if he fights and loses his seat in the election he would be eligible to receive six months’ MPs salary (the first £30,000 tax-free).

Hancock was previously the member of Parliament for Portsmouth South for the SDP following a by-election in 1984 until 1987.

Early life[edit]

Hancock was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, the son of a Portsmouth sailor. He was educated at comprehensive schools in Portsmouth.[6] He worked as an engineer until he was first elected to Parliament, and in the years between his parliamentary career he worked as both a director of the Daytime Club at the BBC and as a district officer for Mencap.[7]

Political career[edit]

He joined the Labour Party in 1968 and was elected as a councillor to the Portsmouth City Council in 1971. He left the Labour Party and joined the new Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981, becoming the leader of the council in 1989 until his second election to the House of Commons, and he remained a member for Fratton on the city council until 22 May 2014 when he was defeated.[8] He was also elected to the Hampshire County Council in 1973, becoming the leader of the Labour group on the council in 1977 until he left the party, leading the council as a Liberal Democrat between 1993 and 1997,[7] when the creation of the Portsmouth Unitary Authority meant that he was no longer eligible to stand.

He contested Portsmouth South for the SDP at the 1983 General Election but lost to the sitting Conservative MP Bonner Pink by 12,335 votes. Pink died on 6 May 1984, and Hancock was elected after being a candidate, again for the SDP, at the by-election by 1,341 votes. In his book Time To Declare the SDP leader David Owen claimed that Hancock's victory prevented a Liberal attempt to subsume the SDP before the 1987 General Election. However, he later lost his seat in the 1987 General Election to the Conservative David Martin by just 205 votes. He narrowly lost the seat to Martin again at the 1992 General Election, this time by just 242 votes. He also contested the European Parliament seat of Wight and Hampshire South in 1994. He returned to parliament at the 1997 General Election, defeating Martin by 4,327 votes and held the seat for the Liberal Democrats at each subsequent general election.[9]

He was promoted to the frontbench by Paddy Ashdown in 1997 as the spokesman on foreign and commonwealth affairs until 2000 when he was moved by Charles Kennedy to speak on the environment, transport and the regions, but following the 2001 General Election Hancock returned to the backbenches.

It was reported that he signed nomination forms for more than one candidate in the 2006 Liberal Democrat leadership election, in order to ensure a 'proper contest'.[10]

Committee membership[edit]

He was member of both the defence select committee from 1999 to 2011 and has been on the Speaker's panel of chairmen since 1999. He is the vice-chairman of the all party groups on Croatia,[11][12] and Russia.[13][14]

He was previously chair of the Russia group, until being succeeded by Labour's Chris Bryant, because he was felt to be too lenient towards Moscow: "We were concerned by Mike Hancock's pro-Putin and pro-Medvedev position. That is why I stood against him and ousted him. His research assistant, who provided secretarial support to the group, was incensed and walked out."[15]

Hancock holds various positions on the Council of Europe, including a committee position on the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee).[16]

On 18 October 2011, amidst espionage allegations relating to his aide and mistress Katia Zatuliveter, Hancock resigned from his post on the defence select committee.[17] (See below)

Political views and stances[edit]

Matyas Eorsi, a Hungarian member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said of his colleague Hancock in August 2010: "He is the most pro-Russian MP from among all of the countries of western Europe. You just have to read his speeches. When it came to debates on Putin, freedom of the media or the war with Georgia, Michael always defended Russia. Among the Liberal bloc in Strasbourg we were all stunned by his position. According to him, Russia really is a fully-fledged democracy."[18]

Hancock has said that he will act to defend the government of Azerbaijan in the British Parliament. He says that he disapproves of criticism of President Ilham Aliyev's regime, and has stated that, in particular, he disapproves of the democratic opposition movement within Azerbaijan.[19]

Hancock has stated that he does not believe the Armenian Genocide actually happened, describing it as a "so-called genocide" based on "dubious historical" claims; in March 2010, he said: "Armenia is like a headless chicken that runs around in circles. They really do not know where to run."[19]

Hancock is a patron of the Captive Animals Protection Society, a charity campaigning for an end to the use of animals in entertainment, including circuses, zoos, the exotic pet trade and the audio-visual industry.[20]

Hancock is a notable supporter of homoeopathy, having signed several early day motions in support of its continued funding on the National Health Service.[21]

Russian aide's arrest, espionage allegation and extra-marital affair[edit]

On 8 August 2010, one of Hancock's parliamentary aides, Russian national Katia Zatuliveter and her friend were questioned at Gatwick Airport on returning from celebrating her 25th birthday in Croatia.[22][23] Hancock had met Zatuliveter in Strasbourg where she worked for the Council of Europe.[16][24] She started working as an aide to Hancock in 2008, after having been an intern at the House of Commons for a while and undergoing security vetting.[25] Until Hancock was ousted as chairman of the All-Party Group on Russia in June 2010,[26] Zatuliveter had been the group's secretary, giving her direct access to all MPs with the greatest interest in Russia and legitimate reason to liaise with the Russian authorities;[27] according to sources at Westminster, Zatuliveter had access to Hancock's private emails, and virtually ran the UK-Russia group.[28]

Reportedly, Zatuliveter had been identified by MI5 (UK Security Service) when surveillance linked her to another person with close links to the Russian embassy in London; the latter was suspected of working for the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service.[27]

On 4 December 2010, it was reported that Zatuliveter was facing deportation in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, after she was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service on behalf of MI5 and the Border and Immigration Agency on 2 December 2010, on suspicion of espionage, the police action having been approved by Home Secretary Theresa May.[25][29][30] The incident happened in the wake of the uncovering and expulsion of ten Russian sleeper agents in the US in June 2010, including a young woman who had British citizenship, Anna Chapman.[31][32]

On 5 December 2010, Hancock confirmed the detention of Zatuliveter and advised the media that she was appealing against her potential deportation.[33] In subsequent interviews on the same day, he called the espionage accusations "absolutely ludicrous"[34] commenting further: "I have no reason to believe she did anything but act honourably during the time she was working for me. She is determined to fight her corner and she genuinely believes, and I back her 100%, that she has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong. If she has, the (security) services are right. But they need to prove their point now."[25]

The media quoted some of Hancock's former Council of Europe's liberal group colleagues as saying[26][35] that in the 2000s Hancock would usually come to their regular private gatherings alongside a series of young Russian and Ukrainian women – in spite of protests by some of those;[26][35] Hancock's former colleagues said they had witnessed his assistants using the computers of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the liberal group secretariat, which were supposed to be protected by a password; apparently his assistants knew the password.[26] Hancock denied claims by Mátyás Eörsi that he had failed to declare all of his visits to Russia, saying that he did not know exactly how many trips he had made to Russia, as his passport had "fallen into the sea".[26][35] It was also reported that Hancock had allegedly agreed to help another Russian national, a 25-year-old Ekaterina Paderina, stay in Britain after she ran into visa problems in the late 1990s.[36]

On 7 December 2010 Russia's Foreign Ministry described the affair as "vaudeville based on a threadbare spy plot" being whipped up by the UK media, which could "only be regarded with pity".[37][38]

On 9 December 2010, Katerina Zatuliveter filed an appeal against arrest and deportation to Russia; in a statement released by her lawyer Tessa Gregory, Zatuliveter said British authorities had failed to provide evidence of her work not being "conducive to national security"; of MI5 she said: "I fully cooperated with them when they questioned me. I have nothing to hide and was only doing my job as a parliamentary researcher."[39][40] Also on that day, Alexander Sternik, Russia's chargé d'affaires said of Hancock: "Mike Hancock is one of those people who are known to have a balanced objective and sympathetic approach towards the modern Russia and its foreign policy."[41] Sternik also said that the Russian view of the affair was that Hancock was being targeted because he was a parliamentarian who "showed sympathy and understanding for the modern Russian state";[42] of Zatuliver's detention he said: "We have not received, although we insisted on this, any clarification as to the motives and the reasons that this detention was made."[42][43]

A Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) hearing on her case begun on 18 October 2011.[44] Zatuliveter admitted to having had a four-year affair with Hancock.[45][46]

On 29 November 2011, the SIAC delivered its ruling that allowed the appeal; the SIAC's Open Judgment concluded: "We are satisfied that it is significantly more likely than not that she was and is not a Russian agent."[47][48] The 2011 SIAC's ruling on Zatuliveter's appeal noted of her relationship with him: "The relationship with Mr Hancock was enduring and genuine on both sides."[49]

Indecent assault claim[edit]

In October 2010 a complaint was made against Hancock of indecent assault, which Hampshire Police announced would not be pursued in December 2010 due to insufficient evidence.[50][51][52]

In February 2013, a civil suit against Hancock over the same complaint was filed.[53]

In September 2013 the police reopened their investigation, asking that a report for Portsmouth City Council, be handed over.[54][55] Hancock was then still a Portsmouth councillor, as well as an MP for the city. The report was an investigation into whether Hancock had breached the Councillors Code of Conduct for Portsmouth City Council, the council suspended any action as a result of the report until all other proceedings have concluded. The Police decided after considering the report that Hancock would face no charges in relation to the complaint.[56]

In January 2014, Hancock was suspended from the Liberal Democrats after the party nationally reviewed the report commissioned by Portsmouth City Council[57] which had found "prima facie evidence of his unwelcome sexual approaches" to his constituent.[58] The report, which has not been officially published, had become available to The Guardian in December 2013.[3]

The civil case was scheduled to come to trial in mid-June 2014, but a settlement between the parties emerged on 11 June.[59] A week later, when details of the out of court settlement became public knowledge, Hancock apologised to his constituent (known only under the pseudonym of Annie) via a statement issued by the complainant's solicitors at the High Court in London. Any compensation paid to the complainant was not made publicly known.[60] In part, his statement says: "I understand that you felt degraded. I did not treat you with sufficient respect. I made you feel deeply uncomfortable and discriminated against, and I crossed the line."[3] A psychiatric report on Hancock, who is undergoing treatment at the Priory Hospital in Southampton, confirmed that he was freely able to make such a statement.[3][61]

Personal life and other activities[edit]

Hancock has been married to Jacqueline Elliott (also a former member of Portsmouth City Council until losing her seat in the 2014 elections)[4] since 1967, and has a son and a daughter.[7] The couple currently reside in Portchester in the borough of Fareham, on the outskirts of Portsmouth.[62]

He has been the chairman of the southern region of the NSPCC since 1989 and has been the vice chairman of Portsmouth Dock since 1992. He was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the same year.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MP Mike Hancock suspended by Lib Dems". BBC News. 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  2. ^ "Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock resigns Lib Dem whip", BBC News, 4 June 2014
  3. ^ a b c d Rajeev Syal "Former Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock apologises over inappropriate conduct", theguardian.com, 18 June 2014
  4. ^ a b Portsmouth City Council (2014) Election Results Front Page Accessed 27 June 2014
  5. ^ Private Eye, “Lib Dem Handy-Panky”, Issue 1369, 27 June - 10 July 2014, pg. 9.
  6. ^ Mike Hancock MP – MP for Portsmouth South, Who we are, http://www.libdems.org.uk/
  7. ^ a b c d Mike Hancock MPLiberal Democrat Website
  8. ^ "Mike Hancock loses Portsmouth council seat to UKIP", BBC News, 23 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Portsmouth South", The Guardian (results in the constituency 1997-2010)
  10. ^ Huhne enters Lib Dem leader raceBBC News – 13 January 2006
  11. ^ House of Commons – Register of All-Party Groups[dead link]
  12. ^ Harding, Luke (5 December 2010). "Lib Dem MP's Russian links questioned after aide 'interrogated by MI5'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  13. ^ House of Commons – Register of All-Party Groups[dead link]
  14. ^ Member of Council of Europe team at 2010 Azerbaijan elections[dead link]
  15. ^ Watt, Nicholas (5 December 2010). "Mike Hancock, his Russian assistant and questions on Trident". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  16. ^ a b "Mike Hancock". Council of Europe. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "MP Hancock quits role over 'spy' affair". BBC News. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Lucas, Edward (6 December 2010). "So why did the Kremlin target this muddled little man?". The Mail. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  19. ^ a b "British parliamentarian: "Armenia is like a headless chicken who doesn't know where to run"". Today.az. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  20. ^ "Spotlight on CAPS’ Patrons". Captive Animals' Protection Society. 
  21. ^ Tredinnick, David (29 June 2010). "Early Day Motion No. 342 British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy". 
  22. ^ david Hurley (5 December 2010). "Portsmouth Lib Dem MP defends assistant over spy allegations". ThisIsPortsmouth.co.uk. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  23. ^ "Liberal Democrat MP's assistant questioned by MI5 over spy links". Daily Mail. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  24. ^ Torcuil Crichton (6 December 2010). "Suspected Russian spy who worked as Lib-Dem MP's aide in House of Commons set to be deported". Daily Record. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  25. ^ a b c "Prove my aide is Russian spy, says MP Mike Hancock". BBC News. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c d e Harding, Luke (5 December 2010). "Mike Hancock had string of young, beautiful Russian 'assistants". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  27. ^ a b MI5 had been watching MP Mike Hancock's Russian aide for months The Times, 6 December 2010.
  28. ^ Harding, Luke (21 December 2010). "Russian diplomat expelled from UK for alleged spying". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  29. ^ "Russian 'spy' found in parliament". 4 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  30. ^ "MP Denies Russian Aide Is 'Sleeper Spy'". Sky News. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  31. ^ Beckford, Martin (5 December 2010). "Russian 'spy': Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock denies researcher facing deportation is Moscow sleeper agent". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  32. ^ Mendick, Robert (5 December 2010). "Russian woman working in House of Commons 'faces deportation over spy allegations'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  33. ^ "MP Mike Hancock denies assistant is Russian spy". BBC News. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  34. ^ "MP Denies Russian Aide Is 'Sleeper Spy'". Sky News. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  35. ^ a b c Collins, Nick (6 December 2010). "Russian spy: colleagues raised concerns over Mike Hancock's 'assistants'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  36. ^ Swinford, Steven (7 December 2010). "Russian 'spy' case: Liberal Democrat MP 'helped second Russian girl'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  37. ^ "Влиятельные силы в Великобритании пытаются не допустить нормализации отношений с РФ" [Influential forces in the UK seek to forestall normalization of relations with the RF] (in Russian). Interfax. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  38. ^ "British MP's aide spy case is media circus – Russian Foreign Ministry". RIA Novosti. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  39. ^ "Zatuliveter challenges deportation from UK". Information Telegraph Agency of Russia. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  40. ^ Hui, Sylvia (9 December 2010). "Russian 'spy' challenges deportation from UK". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  41. ^ "Russian diplomat brands MP aide arrest a 'PR stunt'". The Independent. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  42. ^ a b Sengupta, Kim (10 December 2010). "Aide's arrest was motivated by World Cup failure, says Russia". The Independent. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  43. ^ "MP's aide arrest a PR stunt, Russian diplomat says". BBC. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  44. ^ "MI5 Russian 'spy' faces nine-month wait". BBC. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  45. ^ Rayner, Gordon (19 October 2011). "MI5 officer says MP Mike Hancock was victim of Russian spy 'honeytrap'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  46. ^ First Posted: 18/10/11 14:26 Updated: 18/10/11 17:26 (2011-10-18). "Katia Zatuliveter, Former Aide To Mike Hancock, Admits To Four Year Affair With MP". Huffingtonpost.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  47. ^ Open Judgment See § 62.
  48. ^ "'Russian spy' who had affair with MP can stay in UK". BBC News. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  49. ^ Open Judgment See § 61.
  50. ^ "MP Mike Hancock will not face charges over sex assault claims", The Guardian (Press Association), 22 December 2010
  51. ^ "Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP, arrested on suspicion of indecent assault". The Daily Telegraph. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  52. ^ Holden, Michael (13 October 2010). "Lib Dem MP arrested over indecent assault claim". Reuters. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  53. ^ Syal, Rajeev (8 February 2013). "Veteran Liberal Democrat MP sued for alleged sexual assault". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  54. ^ Semke, Clare (2013-09-19). "Labour calls for the suspension city councillor Hancock". Portsmouth.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  55. ^ "Council hands Hancock file to police". Portsmouth.co.uk. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  56. ^ "Mike Hancock MP will not face charges over sex assault claims". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  57. ^ Syal, Rajeev (22 January 2014). "Lib Dems suspend MP over inappropriate sexual advances claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  58. ^ Rajeev Syal and Daniel Foggo "MP Mike Hancock 'made unwelcome sexual approaches', lawyer concludes", The Guardian, 23 December 2013
  59. ^ "Civil action against MP Hancock will not go to trial", BBC News, 11 June 2014
  60. ^ David Barrett "Disgraced MP Mike Hancock apologises for 'degrading' relationship with constituent", The Telegraph, 18 June 2014
  61. ^ "MP Mike Hancock sorry for 'inappropriate' conduct", BBC News, 18 June 2014
  62. ^ Davies, Barbara (20 October 2011). "The bearded Lib Dem Lothario, young Russian girls and his very long-suffering wife: MP at centre of spy game fits profile for 'honeytrap'". Daily Mail. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bonner Pink
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South
1984 – 1987
Succeeded by
David Martin
Preceded by
David Martin
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South
1997 – present
Incumbent