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Former Black Rod: It would be a 'scandal' if John Bercow gets a peerage

Former Black Rod: It would be a 'scandal' if John Bercow gets a peerage
3 min read

Awarding John Bercow a peerage "would be a scandal which Parliament would struggle to live down", according to former Black Rod David Leakey.

The former Speaker has been nominated for a seat in the House of Lords by outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Bercow is facing accusations of bullying - which he strenuously denies - from Mr Leakey and Lord Lisvane, the former House of Commons chief clark.

Hitting back at Mr Leakey on Sky News on Tuesday, Mr Bercow - who stepped down as Speaker last November - said the accusations against him were "total and utter rubbish from start to finish" and motivated by a desire to block his peerage.

He said: "David Leakey didn't work for me, he wasn't employed by me, he wasn't employed by the House of Commons.

"He worked in and was protocol officer of the House of Lords. He is in absolutely no position whatsoever to comment on my relations with my parliamentary colleagues, of which he is completely and utterly ignorant."

But in an intensification of the war of words, Mr Leakey told Radio Four's Today programme: "Obviously John Bercow doesn't understand or can't remember how the role of Black Rod operates in the Houses of Parliament. During my tenure, some 30% of my work was within or for the House of Commons.

"I had very close working relationships with both senior and junior House of Commons staff and almost daily dealings with MPs."

On his personal experience of working with Mr Bercow, the former Black Rod said: "He would fly into a rage, the red mist would descend, and he would be jumping up and down, bawling out and shouting insults.

"He called me an anti-semite once after being rather rude about by background, education and military career, and that's the sort of intolerable behaviour that I called out."

And denying that his intervention was timed to stop the former Speaker getting a peerage, Mr Leakey - who quit as Black Rod in 2018 - said: "I'm speaking out now for two reasons: one is because there is now a process for having these claims properly and formally investigated - there wasn't two years ago.

"And the second reason for speakingn out now is because he has been nominated for a peerage by Jeremy Corbyn and I think that if John Bercow was given a peerage in the House of Lords it would be a scandal which Parliament would struggle to live down."

Downing Street described the earlier bullying claims by Lord Lisvane as "very concerning" and said they "need to be investigated thoroughly".

Responding to the allegations, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott suggested it was "unlikely" Mr Leakey could have been bullied by Mr Bercow given his former military service.

She tweeted: "Allegations come from former parliamentary official David Leakey. He had been a Lieutenant General who served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Bosnia. But claims he was bullied (i.e. intimidated and coerced) by John Bercow. Unlikely."

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