Ex-Speaker John Bercow 'categorically' denies bullying claims

John Bercow ‘categorically’ denies claims he bullied staff while Commons Speaker and blasts the Government for blocking him from a seat in the House of Lords amid calls for him to be BARRED from a peerage if found guilty

  • Former chief Commons clerk Lord Lisvane filed a complaint against his old boss
  • Lord Lisvane served as Bercow’s chief aide in early part of his time as Speaker
  • He passed a dossier of allegations to parliamentary commissioner for standards

Ex-Speaker John Bercow ‘categorically’ denied bullying accusations against him today amid calls for him to be blocked from the House of Lords if found guilty.

The former Commons custodian also lashed out at the Government for blocking ‘the centuries-old convention’ that holders of the post are rewarded with a peerage after retirement.

It came after former chief Commons clerk Lord Lisvane filed a formal complaint against his old boss and passed a dossier of allegations to the parliamentary commissioner for standards. 

 In a statement this afternoon, Mr Bercow said since he retired in November it has ‘become increasingly obvious that the Government has no intention of honouring the centuries-old convention that a departing speaker is promptly elevated to the House of Lords’.

He continued: ‘Indeed, it has been suggested to me that the Government actively seeks to block any other attempt to nominate me for membership of the upper House.

‘I have seen in the media that Lord Lisvane is formally complaining that I bullied staff. 

‘For the record, I categorically deny that I have ever bullied anyone, anywhere at any time.’ 

In a damning intervention which could scupper Mr Bercow’s, pictured, chances of gaining a peerage, former chief Commons clerk Lord Lisvane filed a formal complaint against his old boss

Andrea Leadsom said Mr Bercow should not be allowed to ‘skip from one House to the other’ if allegations made by former chief Commons clerk Lord Lisvane are proven

Earlier, Andrea Leadsom said Mr Bercow should not be allowed to ‘skip from one House to the other’ if the allegations were proven.

It comes amid reports than Mr Bercow, who stepped down in November after a decade as Speaker, had been nominated for a peerage by Jeremy Corbyn. 

The Labour leader is reported to have acted after No 10 broke with precedent and blocked the regular reward over Mr Bercow’s perceived bias against Brexit while a supposedly neutral political referee.

Business Secretary Ms Leadsom, who repeatedly clashed with the Speaker in her previous role, told LBC radio:  ‘As Leader of the Commons, I did a huge amount of work to bring into place a complaints procedure that would mean nobody, whoever they are, from employees of the house right the way to the Speaker of the Commons, could be allowed to get away with bullying, or harassment, or sexual harassment of any sort whatsoever.

‘That complaints procedure is in place. Anybody who is found guilty, whoever they are, should, in my view, not be able to skip from one House to the other.’ 

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters today: ‘These are very concerning allegations and they need to be investigated thoroughly.’

He added: ‘There can be no place for bullying or abuse in Westminster or any work place.’ 

According to The Times, the allegations – which Mr Bercow denies – detail incidents in which the Speaker was alleged to have bullied and humiliated staff, including some in which he used inappropriate language. 

Lord Lisvane, who as Robert Rogers, was clerk of the Commons for three years until 2014, is the most senior official to file a complaint.

Mr Bercow has always denied the bullying claims. Last night he said: ‘During the five years that we worked together, Lord Lisvane had ample opportunity to raise any accusations of bullying with me. At no stage did he do so… the timing of this intervention is curious.’

All nominees for peerages are vetted by the House of Lords appointments commission. Mr Bercow has been facing allegations of bullying for some years.

His former private secretary, Angus Sinclair, broke a non-disclosure agreement to allege he had faced angry outbursts and obscene language from the former Speaker.      

 Lord Lisvane (left), who as Robert Rogers, was clerk of the Commons for three years until 2014, is the most senior official to file a complaint. Kate Emms (right, next to the speaker) wa signed off work after less than a year

Speaker John Bercow has face allegations of bullying stretching back years in the Commons

David Leakey, who served as Black Rod until 2017, said that Mr Bercow had shouted at him and acted in a way that was ‘by any definition bullying – it is intimidating, unreasonable, disproportionate’, and that he left other members of staff ‘fearful’.

Another aide, Kate Emms, was signed off sick after less than a year working in his office, which the BBC reported was connected to alleged bullying.  

John Bercow (pictured in the Commons in May 2019) has been accused of bullying by multiple members of staff 

He has strongly denied all these claims and maintained that they are without substance. 

Mr Bercow avoided an inquiry in 2018 into his behaviour. MPs blocked it on the grounds that allegations dating back more than seven years could be investigated only in exceptional circumstances.

The system has since been opened to all historical complaints against present and former MPs.

However, peers are exempt because they are subject to a separate complaints regime. 

Ex-Speaker John Bercow may have to join Labour Party if he wants to be a Lord as Number 10 hints it will BLOCK attempts to install him in upper chamber

By David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent and James Gant For MailOnline

John Bercow may have to join the Labour Party if he wants a peerage after Downing Street hinted it will block attempts to install the ex-Speaker in the House of Lords.

Jeremy Corbyn is said to have put forward the former Commons custodian for a seat in the upper chamber, as well as some of his closest left-wing cronies.

It came after Boris Johnson refused to elevate Mr Bercow – as is customary for a former Speaker – a move seen as a rebuke for his efforts to stall Brexit last year.

No 10 suggested it would block any new attempt to place the outspoken former MP in the Lords, and claimed Mr Corbyn could only nominate people from his own party.

Jeremy Corbyn is said to have put forward the reviled former Commons custodian for a seat in the upper chamber, as well as some of his closest left-wing cronies

Mr Johnson’s Official Spokesman told reporters yesterday: ‘It is a long-standing convention that leaders of the opposition can nominate people representing their party for peerages.’

Mr Bercow could also put himself forward to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, but the PM could still shoot this down.

Mr Bercow became Tory MP for Buckingham in 1997 and represented the seat until the December election.

In his decade as Speaker he was officially an independent and officially neutral.

But he was accused of repeatedly twisting parliamentary procedure to help Remainers thwart the government.

Mr Bercow was also embroiled in rows over bullying allegations – which he flatly denied – and his lavish expenses.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Corbyn – who praised Mr Bercow’s handling of Brexit – has now nominated Mr Bercow for a peerage.

He is also said to have put forward former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, with whom he had an often tense working relationship.

And Mr Corbyn’s former key aide and chief of staff Karie Murphy could also get a coveted seat in the Upper Chamber. Labour refused to comment on any of the claims.

The trio reportedly appear on an eight-strong list of dissolution honours nominations put forward by the Labour chief, who will quit his post in April after leading the party to two successive general election defeats. Vetting is expected to begin on the nominations soon. 

John Bercow in bullying ‘cover-up’ row: New complaints process in Parliament comes too late to probe Speaker before he steps down, senior Commons figures warn

By Darren Boyle for MailOnline

Senior figures who worked closely with Speaker John Bercow and accused him of bullying said there has been an ‘establishment stitch-up’ in failing to investigate him as he was stepping down.

Former Black Rod David Leakey and ex-private secretary Angus Sinclair accused the powers-that-be of dragging their heels over acting on complaints against him, according to a Sunday Telegraph report in October 2019.

Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme for former staff heard allegations dating back to before 2017.

Former Black Rod David Leakey, left, has accused John Bercow, right, of bullying – an allegation he strongly denies 

Mr Leakey believes Mr Bercow should not receive the peerage traditionally offered former speakers of the Hosue of Commons when they stand down from the role

The development came more than a year after a report by Dame Laura Cox, a former High Court judge, warned of ‘deference and silence’ being used to cover up misconduct occurring in Westminster.

But Mr Sinclair, who broke a non-disclosure agreement to speak out about alleged bullying by Mr Bercow in 2018, told the newspaper the ‘horse has long bolted’ in terms of probing the Speaker’s behaviour.

Speaker John Bercow faces police probe over ‘bullying’ misconduct in public office claims 

By James Tapsfield for MailOnline

John Bercow was reported to the police over alleged bullying amid mounting pressure for him to stand down in May 2018.

Scotland Yard was ‘assessing’ a complaint that the Speaker could have committed misconduct in public office.

The news comes after a series of claims surfaced about Mr Bercow’s behaviour towards staff and colleagues. He denied any wrongdoing.

A member of the public asked the Met Police to consider whether Mr Bercow’s conduct could amount to ‘abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder’.

It came two months after then-Prime Minister Theresa May backed calls for a probe into Bercow’s alleged bullying. 

The 60-year-old has accused the former Tory MP of mimicking him and said he was prone to ‘over-the-top anger’.

He said the inaction regarding the bullying allegations was proof that ‘as yet the House of Commons is not a safe place’.

‘The last year has shown me that when [the Commons] feels it’s got more important things to do, that sort of thing [bullying] doesn’t matter,’ said Mr Sinclair, who was in the Royal Navy for 30 years.

Mr Leakey, 67, in 2018 described an incident where the ‘red mist descended’ on Mr Bercow, who he said ‘banged the table, yelled and was highly insulting to me personally’.

The former lieutenant general in the Army said Mr Bercow should be denied the usual peerage bestowed upon former Commons speakers.

‘The icing on the cake of an establishment stitch-up in the public perception would be for Mr Bercow to be given a peerage,’ warned Mr Leakey, who who was one of the most senior officials in the Lords from 2011 to 2017. ‘It would be a scandal that Parliament would struggle to live down.’

A spokesman for Mr Bercow insisted there was ‘no substance’ to the allegations by either man and he has always denied claims that he has bullied staff. A new speaker is due to be elected by MPs on November 4.


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