London, Dec 7 (ANI): Brit MP Mike Hancock is under the spotlight for his obvious preference to hire Eastern European women as assistants.
The Liberal Democrat MP met Ekaterina Paderina, then 25, on several occasions following the demise of her marriage to retired merchant seaman, Eric Butler, then 54, in the late 1990s.
Although there is no suggestion they had an improper relationship, observers believe he is 'obsessed' with young Eastern European women.
One said, "For some reason, Mr Hancock is a honeypot for pretty Russians," reports the Daily Mail.
Yesterday it was claimed that Hancock entertained a string of young women on a series of foreign trips with MPs, telling colleagues that they were 'relatives' or 'stenographers'.
"I think Mr Hancock is a very nice person,' she said at her large detached home in Bristol. As much as the guy's helped me, I don't feel the need to talk to anyone regarding if he's a good or bad person," said Paderina yesterday.
Three who shared Defence Select Committee visits with him overseas revealed that his antics were a 'running joke' among MPs. One MP claimed that on a tour of the Ukraine a decade ago, he saw a young woman several decades Mr Hancock's junior visit his hotel room late at night. Another said that he boasted over breakfast that he had 'hired a stenographer' for 'secretarial work' in the small hours of the morning.
One MP said, "There were a number of occasions where he would arrive at receptions at hotels where we were staying with women who were 25 or 30 years younger than him. It was a joke between colleagues. He wouldn't always say who they were. He would introduce them as a relative with a big grin. He would often go out with them in the early evening and return with them later."
"They were all the same type: long-legged, good-looking blondes, never older than 25, fluent in French, English and often German, and with a higher education,' said Mr Matyas Eorsi, the former head of the European liberal group.
Another group member, who declined to be named, told the paper, "I've been in Strasbourg since 2004. I remember at least five of Mike's Russian female assistants."
Ukrainian MP Serhiy Holovaty, a former justice minister, said he had asked for a ban on Mr Hancock's Russian 'assistants' from future meetings, adding that he was convinced they had 'links' to Russia's FSB spy agency.
Hancock last night denied that he ever entertained a woman in his room on foreign trips.
"It's absolute rubbish," he said.
"I only went on a few trips. I went on one to America and another to Russia and the Ukraine and there was another to Romania and Bulgaria when they were applying for accession to Nato. I'm elling you it's tosh. There are a lot of people who want to make a bit of mischief but I'm at a loss to understand why." (ANI)