Tory MP recalls John Bercow's 'appalling' behaviour as speaker
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Mr Bercow has been found guilty of bullying House of Commons staff by the Independent Expert Panel. The former Speaker is now banned from holding a personal pass allowing him to access Parliament buildings for life. In response to the ban from Parliament Mr Bercow said: “Parliament is supposed to be the highest court in the land. This inquiry, which lasted a ghastly 22 months at great cost to the taxpayer, has failed it dismally.
“At the end of it, the panel has simply said that I should be denied a parliamentary pass which I have never applied for and do not want. That is the absurdity of its position.
“Don’t fall for the establishment spin that I have been banned for life. I can still attend debates with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public.”
The independent watchdog said Mr Bercow’s behaviour “fell very far below that which the public has a right to expect” from an MP, and that he had displayed “undermining behaviour” towards his staff.
It added that Mr Bercow was “a serial bully” and that his conduct was “so serious that, had he still been a Member of Parliament, we would have determined that he should be expelled by resolution of the House.”
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In response, Mr Bercow called the inquiry into the complaints “amateurish” and merely based on “tittle tattle”.
In a strongly-worded statement, he labelled the findings “a travesty of justice rooted in prejudice, spite and hearsay.”
Mr Bercow was Speaker of the House of Commons between 2009 and 2019, and presided over the turbulent period in which the House debated the UK’s exit from the EU.
However, in May 2018 Mr Bercow’s former private secretary Angus Sinclair claimed on BBC’s Newsnight that the Speaker had repeatedly bullied him at work.
Mr Sinclair alleged that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement when he left his post to prevent him from revealing he was bullied.
Mr Bercow denied all the claims profusely and called for an independent body to be set up to investigate allegations of harassment and bullying in Parliament.
In January, Lord Lisvane, who served as a clerk in the House of Commons under Mr Bercow, submitted a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, which was alleged by the BBC to have been regarding Mr Bercow’s treatment of staff.
The same month, ex-Black Rod David Leakey claimed that the former Speaker would “lose the plot” regularly as Speaker.
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Mr Leakey claimed to Sky News that the former Speaker would “lose the plot, the red mist would descend, he’d jump up and down, thump the table, bawl out insults to me.”
He added that in his role a Black Rod he “saw and knew a lot about what was going on in the House of Commons.”
Black Rod is a senior official in the House of Lords who controls access to the chamber and maintains order.
When pressed on the evidence he had to substantiate his claims, Mr Leakey alleged: “Well he did it to me.
“He called me an antisemite once and was extremely rude about my background and military career.
“I’ve never come across that in my 46 years of working in public service.”
Mr Leakey accused Mr Bercow of bullying him across a number of years and claimed that a number of highly ranking staff had privately told him they were bullied by the former Speaker.
Responding directly to Mr Leakey’s allegations at the time, Mr Bercow told Sky News: “[Mr Leakey] doesn’t know what my relationship was with my clerks.
“He has absolutely no intelligence on those matters whatsoever.
“What we have here is a person who has left the House, is thrashing about, desperate to remain relevant, popping up at every turn, trying to make himself seem very important, centre stage, at the heart of things in the way I went about my work.”
Mr Bercow had a similar direct statement in response to the new report, conducted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone and upheld by the Independent Expert Panel.
It alleges the Speaker “shouted at and mimicked” a member of staff and was responsible for “intimidating, insulting behaviour involving an abuse of power.”
The former Speaker alleged that claims of misconduct were “upheld even when eyewitnesses testified they had not taken place.”
He added that he had been “targeted by three disgruntled former staffers because he had set out to be a reforming figure prepared to set aside custom and practice in pursuit of a more radical agenda intended to make the Commons more inclusive and diverse.”
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