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Wed, 21 October 2020

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Former Commons Speaker John Bercow accused of bullying by ex-top official

Former Commons Speaker John Bercow accused of bullying by ex-top official
2 min read

John Bercow has been formally accused of bullying by the man who served as his most senior official.


The Times reports that the former Commons Speaker is the subject of an official complaint to the parliamentary commissioner for standards by Lord Lisvane, who served as chief clerk of the House of Commons until 2014.

But the ex-Speaker, who has been nominated for a peerage by Labour, said the timing of the complaint was "curious".

According to The Times, the complaint from Lord Lisvane details incidents in which Mr Bercow allegedly bullied and "humiliated" staff, including using inappropriate language.

The complaint would make Lord Lisvane the most senior official to file a formal complaint against the ex-Speaker, who has long denied allegations of bullying.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, Mr Bercow 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."

The move comes after the Government broke with a longstanding convention by refusing to nominate the ex-Speaker for a place in the House of Lords.

But The Sunday Times reported that Jeremy Corbyn has instead put Mr Bercow's name forward for a peerage in the dissolution honours list. 

Downing Street has said the peerage - which must be vetted by the House of Lords appointments commission - may not be in the Labour leader’s gift unless Mr Bercow becomes a member of the party, due to a Parliamentary convention on who he can elevate to the upper chamber.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: "It is a long-standing convention that leaders of the opposition can nominate people representing their party for peerages."

Mr Bercow was first elected as an MP for the Conservatives in 1997, but gave up the Tory whip when he became Speaker in 2009.

The former Speaker has previously been accused of bullying by David Leakey, who served as Black Rod until 2017.

The ex-official has accused Mr Bercow of having left staff "fearful" and said he had acted in a way that was "by any definition bullying - it is intimidating, unreasonable, disproportionate".

The ex-Speaker has vigorously denied those claims and said they are without substance.

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