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MP Issues Public Apology For 'Degrading' Woman
Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock has issued an apology to a vulnerable woman for an "inappropriate" relationship that "degraded" her.
In the page-long public apology, Mr Hancock admits carrying out an "unprofessional relationship" with the woman and that he lied when she launched a legal action against him, accusing her of trying to make money out of the case.
The statement comes after the woman settled her claim for sexual assault against the former Liberal Democrat, who is currently being treated for depression in the Priory Hospital in Southampton.
In it he said: "In October 2009 you first came to me as a constituent to seek my assistance as your MP and councillor. Subsequently and over several months I came to your home on several occasions, sometimes unannounced, and conducted a friendship with you that was inappropriate and unprofessional.
"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."
Mr Hancock resigned the Liberal Democrat party whip in 2013 in order to concentrate on the legal battle but he has remained as an Independent MP for Portsmouth South.
He lost his seat as a Portsmouth councillor in last month's local election after 43 years.
The woman constituent was suing Mr Hancock, accusing him of sexual assault after she contacted him for help in a neighbour dispute.
Mr Hancock had vigorously denied the claims. He was arrested by police over the allegations in 2010 but no action was taken as the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.
In his statement he said: "I also recognise that hurtful and untrue statements were made publicly about your motivation in bringing the claim. These statements sought to discredit and undermine you.
"This never should have happened. I accept that you did not bring the claim for financial gain and any statements made to the contrary were wrong."
The MP said he had learnt from his mistakes and would not repeat them.
The Liberal Democrats have said he will be expelled from the party soon, however, Sky's Deputy Political Editor Joey Jones pointed out there were questions to answer for the party because the matter had been so protracted.
The solicitor for the woman said that Mr Hancock was no longer fit to be an MP and there were growing calls for him to step down.
However, as an independent MP, there is nothing that can be done to remove Mr Hancock from his role and no party to put pressure on him to go.
Hampshire Police said it was aware of the politician's statement and would be "taking no further action" in the case.