You really have to wonder how a married man can actually spend four years living in a small flat in London with his Russian lover and another Lib Dem MP, without anyone else seemingly knowing anything about it …
… and that a tribunal of SIAC - the Special Immigration Appeals Commission - apparently believed Katia Zatuliveter's account concerning what it judged to be an 'enduring' relationship between her and Hancock. Go figure.
Hancock's flatmate Bob Russell was another Lib Dem MP. who'd previously taken to boasting about what a tiny, basic flat it was. So how, you kind of have to ask yourself, did he not notice that there were three of them living in a poky little flat just off the Old Kent Road for nearly four years? Did nobody notice? I mean, how? What amazing skills of non-observation were involved here? Or was it just expedient not to see - a case of lies upon lies, and opportunistic delusion, from many of the people involved?
Well, let's face it - it must have been a open secret among the Liberal Democrat Party elite in London. and probably in Portsmouth, too. Let's have a look.
Katia was an alleged 'Russian spy'. She was arrested by British security services in 2010 - and the so-called 'girl from the Caucasus' landed up in front of the Special Immigration Tribunal in London, where she told an extraordinary story about her own life, Mike Hancock's life, and her life as a political assistant and researcher for the Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South - a man who at the time she met him was a member of the Defence Select Committee.
Bob Russell MP and The Flat
I'd heard Mike Hancock talk in the Civic Offices about sharing a flat with fellow Lib Dem MP Bob Russell (Colchester) up in London - I also recall his mentioning some connection that the building had with Simon Hughes (also then a Lib Dem MP) - and it was certainly no secret. The infamous MPs' expensese scandal of 2009 led Bob Russell (though interestingly not Mike Hancock) to publicise the supposed relative frugality of his lifestyle in London.
In fact Bob's insistence on their 'student' lifestyle was published online in with an accompanying photograph of Bob's quasi-monastic single bed and meagre room decor, complete with above-radiator scorch marks. All very 'Young Ones' - especially for a couple of blokes in their 60s.
Perhaps Bob was so busy sitting on his single bed staring at his alarm clock that he actually didn't notice a young Russian woman living in his flat for up to four years?
And then There's Human Nature and Common Sense
The narrative spun by Katia Zaluliveter, and ostenstibly believed by the SIAC tribunal, requires us all to swallow the following; namely:
1. That Katia and Hancock had a long and meaningful relationship - 'enduring and genuine on both sides'.
2. That they lived together in his flat for up to four years.
3. That, however, all this was presumably some kind of secret; and a massive and upsetting surprise to all his colleagues and family when it all came out in the press (and for which he and his wife Jacqui Hancock received much sympathy from the Lib Dems in Portsmouth - despite Hancock's known previous history).
4. That this 'genuine' relationship occurred - and overlapped - with Hancock's attempts to start a relationship with 'Annie', a vulnerable adult in Portsmouth (an episode which led to Hancock's High Court apology, payment of money as settlement, and his ultimate political demise).
4. That his wife Jacqui Hancock - then a Liberal Democrat Portsmouth City Councillor - who knew a lot about the conditions of the settlement with 'Annie' and possibly approved them herself - apparently knew nothing about Hancock's living arrangements with Zatuliveter.
5. That Zatuliveter did not know Hancock was married until near the end of their relationship. (This would have required her, as Hancock's researcher, to have been bafflingly unfamiliar with the contents of her boss & lover's own website and wiki entry - a matter of a 30 second google.)
6. That Zatuliveter, in this 'enduring' relationship with Hancock, never visited his home in Portsmouth or met any other member of his family.
7. That Jacqui Hancock, in a long marriage to Hancock, never visited his home in London.
8. Bob Russell MP never mentioned Hancock's relationship to Hancock's wife.
9. Bob Russell MP never mentioned Hancock's live-in extra-marital relationship with the 'ambitious' political researcher Zaltuliveter to Simon Hughes, Tim Farron, Nick Clegg, Jo Swinton or Sal Brinton.
And so ...
The SIAC tribunal chose to believe what they chose to believe. To me, and this is just my view, the tribunal believed the unbelievable.
Hancock was a minnow in a big and murky political pond. This swirling mess was never really about him. So who else? Clegg? Zaluliveter? Hancock's euroviz friends?
I don't know - but I do know that I very much struggle to believe the crap that we were spun via the SIAC tribunal. Enduring and genuine bullshit, perhaps. And I'm not even so sure about the 'enduring' part of that any more.
Minor edits: 4th May 2018