Sexual misconduct and the Liberal Democrats

You wait and you wait - as it were - and then two judicial findings into claims of sexual misconduct come at once.

In the last few minutes, Mike Hancock became the second Lib Dem to be suspended by his party in two days.

The QC who investigated ones against the Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock found the female constituent's evidence credible.

Nigel Pascoe's report - until now confidential - has been leaked to the media, and it contains a rather odd phrase.

In it he writes: " I do not find the actions of Mr Hancock were motivated solely by sexual desire... It follows that the true picture of the behaviour of Mr Hancock is more complex and nuanced than has previously been represented in the press."

Now, that strikes me as quite an injudicious judicial finding, that one.

Who is to say whether a sexual advance is "motivated by sexual desire" for a start? Surely not a barrister?

But more importantly, why should it matter?

Tell me if I'm being thick here (in fact, don't, for now, I'm thin-skinned, new in the job, etc), but it seems extremely odd to me that a QC charged with deciding whether a woman's evidence was credible needs to stray into the motivation of her aggressor.

Mr Pascoe concedes that the "unwelcome sexual approaches remains unquestionably a very serious matter in the light of the position which he holds".

But the reason I raise it is because it may shed some light on where we've got to in the whole Rennard affair, and how the party has tried to solve it.

One senior Lib Dem figure suggested to me today that the problem begins and ends with the party's original internal investigation, led by senior barrister Alistair Webster QC, whose report last week was intended, in good faith, I'm sure, to draw a line under the whole saga, but opened both sides up to the bloodiest headlines for months.

In Webster's report, you might recall, he says he believes there is "less than a 50 percent chance that a charge against Lord Rennard could be proved to the requisite standard". But it goes on to say the peer should '"reflect upon the effect that his behaviour has had - and that an apology would be appropriate."

Lord Rennard, who denies wrongdoing, read this as that he was in the clear. And yet now the peer is being suspended for what sounds like a rather peevish refusal to say sorry.

You might have little sympathy with him, his actions, or the hole he's got the party into now, but it does raise a fairly crucial question about Mr Webster's remit. Was he making a judicial finding? Or trying to sound like Lord Rennard's angry dad?

Mr Hancock denies the allegations made against him.