Liberal Democrat MP 'horrified' by paedophile slur

Image caption,
Mike Hancock arriving at Southampton Magistrates' Court

A Liberal Democrat MP has described allegations he was a paedophile as "absolutely untrue and offensive".

Mike Hancock told Southampton Magistrates' Court he was "horrified" by a leaflet published during last year's general election.

The court heard Les Cummings, who was standing against the MP, had written: "Mike Hancock is a paedophile".

He denies making a false statement with the purpose of affecting the result of the election in Portsmouth South.

Mr Cummings, 66, from Portsmouth, is accused of publishing the leaflet last April, while he was standing against Mr Hancock as an independent for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party.

Mr Hancock successfully took out an injunction banning the distribution of the leaflet and Mr Cummings was later arrested, the court heard.

'Kiss and cuddle'

Giving evidence Mr Hancock said: "I'm horrified that anyone could make it [the allegation]."

The Liberal Democrat went on to deny other allegations in the leaflet that he had an affair with a 14-year-old girl and that he had been seen in bed with children while on charity work in Romania with Mencap in the 1990s.

"That's really offensive to people I have worked with and to me," the politician said.

He also denied being corrupt and associating with known criminals - another allegation made in the leaflet.

But he did admit he had a "close and affectionate relationship" with a girl he first met while she was in her late teens in 1985 and it gradually developed until she married in about 1993.

Image caption,
Mr Cummings was standing for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party.

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 and they had been reported in newspapers.

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.

Mr Hancock won the election with an increased majority.

The trial continues.

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