Portsmouth City Council has spent £25,000 hiring a QC to determine if Cllr Mike Hancock, a Lib Dem councillor, has broken the Council's code of conduct. Cllr Hancock is also an MP but has resigned the Lib Dem whip due to a civil court case where he faces allegations of sexual assault.
The principle of being innocent until proven guilty is important to remember in these cases. That still leaves the consideration of whether those in public office should expect to carry on as normal until the verdict. I don't think it is an easy one. Yet in Cllr Hancock's case the record of misconduct is considerable. Where is the logic in him being allowed to retain the Lib Dem whip in Portsmouth City Council but not in the House of Commons?
Not only that, but Cllr Hancock retains the portfolio of the Council's Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development.
Cllr Hancock has refused to answer questions from his own council's investigation on the grounds that a court case is pending. Surely under the circumstances there would be more suitable choices for Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development, at least until after the court case?