Investigation Into Mike Hancock

A Liberal Democrat MP is to be investigated by a local authority which he serves as a councillor following a complaint of a breach of its code of conduct.

Mike Hancock, who represents Portsmouth South in Hampshire, is to be subjected to the three-month probe following an allegation made to Portsmouth City Council, for which he represents the Fratton ward.

The local authority's governance and audit and standards committee has assessed the complaint and ordered the investigation by an independent lawyer.

Michael Lawther, solicitor for Portsmouth City Council, said: ''A sub-committee of Portsmouth City Council today decided to refer a complaint against Cllr Mike Hancock for investigation.

''The governance and audit and standards committee (assessment) sub-committee, made up of three councillors, considered evidence of a breach of the council's code of conduct and decided there was a case to answer.

''They made no judgment as to whether or not there had been a breach.

''I will now appoint an independent lawyer to carry out an investigation. We estimate the investigation will take two or three months.

''If a breach is proved against a councillor, they can be censured for their conduct.''

The move comes as a ''vulnerable'' constituent is suing the MP in the High Court, accusing him of sexual assault after she contacted him for help in a neighbour dispute.

The MP, who vigorously denied the claims, 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.

Mr Hancock was also subject to controversy when his Parliamentary assistant, Russian Katia Zatuliveter, was accused by the Security Service of being a spy and passing information to Moscow.

However, the 26-year-old, who admitted to having an affair with the MP while he sat on the Defence Select Committee, was granted leave by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) to remain in the UK in November 2011.

Mr Hancock was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Press Association but a member of staff at his constituency office said a statement would be released later.