Rival guilty of paedophile slur against MP Mike Hancock

Image caption,
Cummings was convicted after a three day trial at Southampton Magistrates' Court.

A rival who falsely claimed a Liberal Democrat MP was a paedophile has been convicted of attempting to affect a result in the general election.

Les Cummings, 66, made the false statement about Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock.

Mr Hancock had strenuously denied the allegations made in an election leaflet pamphlet.

Cummings, who stood for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, was fined £500 at Southampton Magistrates' Court.

He had falsely written on the flyer: "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?"

Cummings, from Portsmouth, falsely alleged in the leaflet, that was delivered to homes in Portsmouth, that Mr Hancock had an affair with a 14-year-old girl during the 1980s.

He also falsely alleged that Mr Hancock had been seen in bed with children while on charity work in Romania, and that the MP was corrupt and associated with known criminals.

'Smear campaign'

Mr Hancock denied all the allegations printed in the leaflet.

But he admitted having a "close and affectionate relationship" with a girl whom he first met in her late teens in 1985, which developed until she married in about 1993.

He said the relationship had involved a "kiss and a cuddle" but was "not sexual".

Mr Hancock said he had had "a few" extra-marital affairs that had been reported in newspapers.

Cummings said he had become "obsessed" with the MP and the leaflet was a "vendetta" and a "smear campaign" to discredit Mr Hancock and stop him being re-elected.

Image caption,
Mr Hancock won the elections to parliament and to the city council with an increased majority.

The court heard that Cummings' allegations were "rumour" from several sources, including shamed former city councillor Jez Baker who had been jailed for corruption, and he had no evidence for it.

Cummings, who is in poor health and lives in sheltered housing on benefits, had denied making a false statement to affect the return of the election under the Representation of the Peoples Act.

After Mr Hancock saw the leaflet in April last year, he sought an injunction to stop its further distribution and publication.

He won the elections to parliament and to the city council with an increased majority.

District Judge Anthony Calloway, who fined Cummings £500, told him that he had shown "open contempt" for Mr Hancock and described the leaflets as "horrendous" and "appalling and distasteful".

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