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Lib Dems Dismissed Hancock Sex Claims In 2012
The Liberal Democrats dismissed sex claims against MP Mike Hancock in 2012, a letter obtained by Sky News reveals.
It comes as the alleged victim also told Sky News that she feels she has been the victim of a "cover-up" by the party.
The allegations against Mr Hancock by the female constituent had been raised with Liberal Democrat central office by her lawyer and separately in a letter to Nick Clegg in 2011.
However, a letter, dated February 2012, said that the claims of sexual impropriety against Mr Hancock, who also sits as a Lib Dem councillor at Portsmouth City Council, had been considered but that they did not merit an investigation by the party.
In response to the October 2011 letter written by the lawyer of the woman at the centre of allegations, the Liberal Democrats' official reply said: "Taking into account the contents of that correspondence, and applying the Party Constitution and membership rules, the committee decided that it would not commence any investigation or take any other action in respect of the matter that you have raised.
"In reaching this decision, the committee also took into account the nature of the police investigation and the stance of the Office of the Parliamentary Commission for Standards (OPCS).
"As a result, that has to be an end to the matter."
It has also emerged that former Lib Dem Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael spoke at length to the alleged victim and to Mr Hancock.
Speaking to Sky News' Alistair Bunkall, the alleged victim said: "I feel I have been let down by all authorities.
"The police, obviously the Liberal Democrat party, Nick Clegg - everybody that's been involved. I have been hugely let down. My voice has never been heard."
Mr Hancock, 67, was suspended by the Liberal Democrat party on Wednesday after a report into the matter was leaked on the internet.
The report - carried out by a barrister on behalf of Portsmouth City Council - described "compelling" evidence of "serious and unwelcome sexual behaviour" towards the woman constituent.
The woman's lawyer, Harriet Wistrich, said her client had originally written to Mr Clegg but received no response. She said: "The chief whip investigated those complaints back last summer and as a result of that investigation Hancock offered his resignation to the Liberal Democrat whip in Parliament, however, he remained a very active member of the party and an active Liberal Democrat councillor."
She added that her client wanted action because she she sees someone "who she accuses of being abusive towards her still holding public office".
The development intensified the sex claims scandal which has engulfed the party, and led to significant criticism of Nick Clegg's leadership.
It follows the fallout from the case of the former party chief executive Lord Rennard, who was accused of sexually harassing women party activists.
As the new details emerged on Thursday morning, Mr Hancock's son, Dean, 37, was arrested outside Mr Hancock's home in Fareham, Hampshire, on suspicion of assaulting a television reporter at 9.21am. The reporter received an injury to his nose, according to police.
Dean Hancock was later charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, police said.
The report into Mr Hancock's behaviour by Nigel Pascoe QC concluded that the barrister had no doubt that the complainant had provided "compelling prima facie evidence of serious and unwelcome sexual behaviour" carried out towards her by Mr Hancock.
Mr Pascoe described the woman as "a straightforward and vulnerable person, angry and hurt by what she said had happened to her".
He also acknowledged that Mr Hancock, who was exposed in 2011 for having an affair with a Russian aide 40 years his junior, was not motivated "solely by sexual desire" and that he had sought to help her "wholly properly" as a local councillor.
The Liberal Democrats said it was the first time the party had seen the report, which was released last year, and that given its conclusions they had decided to suspend Mr Hancock.
However, it is clear from the February 2012 letter obtained by Sky News that the party was made aware of the severity of the allegations against Mr Hancock.
In a letter to Liberal Democrat Central Office in October 2011 from the woman's lawyer, Ms Wistrich, she points out that her client had written to Mr Clegg to raise her concerns but that she had not received a response.
Mr Hancock has been accused of sexually assaulting the woman after she contacted him in 2009 for help dealing with a difficult neighbour.
Police decided that no action should be taken against Mr Hancock but the woman is taking her case to the High Court in a civil claim on Friday.
Mr Hancock has always denied the claims and resigned the Liberal Democrat whip last year to fight the case. However, he remained a councillor in Portsmouth.
The council opposed calls from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors to publish the report at a council meeting this week, claiming it would be inappropriate ahead of a civil court case brought by Mr Hancock's accuser.
It has postponed taking any disciplinary action against Mr Hancock until the civil case has been heard.
A statement from Mr Hancock released on Wednesday said: "These matters have twice been looked at by the police, first in 2010, and in conjunction with the CPS, they have found that there is no case for Mr Hancock to answer and have taken no further action."
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