Say You Won't Let Go James Arthur
21 February 2011, 13:00
A Portsmouth MP's told a court that allegations that he was a paedophile and corrupt were "absolutely untrue and offensive''.
Lib Dem Mike Hancock told Southampton Magistrates' Court that the leaflet published by political opponent Les Cummings during last year's general election had "horrified'' him when he was given a copy by a constituent on April 22 last year.
Cummings, who was standing against Mr Hancock for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party in the Portsmouth South seat, had written on the A4 sheet: "Mike Hancock is a paedophile.''
It then showed a picture of Mr Hancock with children and the words: "Would you let him get this close to your children?''
But giving evidence Mr Hancock said it was "absolutely not'' true he was a paedophile.
"I'm horrified that anyone could make it (the allegation).''
He was asked by Alison Morgan, prosecuting: "How did you feel about that suggestion?''
Mr Hancock replied: "sickened.''
The Liberal Democrat went on to deny other allegations in the leaflet that he had an affair with a 14-year-old girl he had been seen in a casino with, or that he had been seen in bed with children while on charity work in Romania with Mencap in the 1990s.
"Impossible and untrue,'' the politician said.
"That's really offensive to people I have worked with and to me,'' he told the court.
He also denied being corrupt and associating with known criminals.
"I know lots of people but I do not associate myself with known criminals. I do not ask people who come into my office if they have a criminal record,'' he said.
But he did admit he had a "close and affectionate relationship'' with a girl he first met in her late teens in 1985 and it gradually developed until she married in about 1993.
He said the relationship had involved a "kiss and a cuddle'' but was "not sexual''.
Under cross-examination, Mr Hancock said he had had "a few'' extra-marital affairs he had told his wife about and they had been reported in newspapers.
The politician was given permission to check his mobile phone during his evidence as his mother is seriously ill.
Earlier the court heard the allegations against Mr Hancock were false and that he had never had any sexual involvement with anyone aged under 17 in the UK or abroad.
Cummings, 66, denies making a false statement to affect the return of the election under the Representation of the Peoples Act.
The court heard that Cummings allegations were "rumour'' and he had no evidence for it.
Mr Hancock won the election with an increased majority.