One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Clegg: Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock 'Will Be Expelled'
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock will be expelled from the party.
In the High Court on Wednesday, Mr Hancock issued a public apology to a vulnerable woman constituent for making inappropriate sexual advances after she sought his help as her local MP and councillor.
Speaking to Heart, Mr Clegg said the MP for Portsmouth South - who has already had the Lib Dem whip withdrawn in Parliament and his party membership suspended - should now leave the party altogether.
``He should resign from the party. Of course he should. Absolutely,'' Mr Clegg said.
``He has made an apology that makes it clear that the way he behaved was totally and utterly out of order - as he himself has said - and crossed a line with a vulnerable constituent.
``He has caused huge, huge distress. Frankly, that has no role in the Liberal Democrats - the party I lead. He has no future in the party. He should resign.''
When asked later if Mr Hancock should be kicked out of the party, he replied "absolutely".
Mr Clegg was forced to defend his failure to act sooner after the woman - known only as ``Annie'' - who suffers from mental health problems complained that the Lib Dem leader ``turned a blind'' after she contacted his office asking the party to investigate.
She told The Guardian: ``Clegg has been negligent, he has put me through hell. I complained to Clegg's office in March 2011, but it has taken four years to deal with Hancock. There is supposed to be system in place in the party to deal with MPs but they don't seem to use it.''
Mr Clegg acknowledged that a letter had been sent to Lib Dem headquarters in 2011, but said it had never been brought to his attention.
He said the party had taken no action at that time as Hampshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, which had both looked into the matter, had decided there was no basis on which to proceed.
``She is quite right to say back in 2011 something was sent to my office. It didn't reach me,'' he said.
``When I was given specific allegations early in 2013, I responded as promptly as anyone could reasonably that I should and Mike Hancock was suspended as an MP for the party.''
Mr Hancock is also facing calls to resign as Independent MP for Portsmouth South, by the new Conservative leader of Portsmouth Cty Council, Donna Jones.
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