John Bercow claims bullying accusers are ‘snobs and bigots’ in latest angry attack
John Bercow has dismissed those who have accused him of bullying of being “snobs and bigots” - as he warned that denying him a peerage could set a precedent.
The former Speaker, who has long denied all allegations of bullying Commons staff, said the claims had been “weaponised” by those opposed to his time in office.
Mr Bercow has so far been denied the customary peerage handed to departing Speakers, and has seen a number of complaints lodged against him since he stepped down in October.
Former clerk of the House of Commons Lord Lisvane has filed a formal complaint with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as has the ex-Black Rod David Leakey.
Lt Gen Leakey has said it would be a “scandal” if Mr Bercow is made a peer, as has reportedly been proposed by Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.
Meanwhile The Sunday Times reported that Angus Sinclair, Mr Bercow’s former private secretary, has handed a dossier of claims against his old boss to an independent bullying and harassment helpline run by Commons authorities.
But Mr Bercow told a Guardian Live event on Monday night: “I was astonished when those allegations first surfaced on Newsnight nearly two years ago and for the best part of two years I’ve had to put up with this issue being weaponised against me.”
And he claimed he was the victim of a “concerted and orchestrated campaign to assassinate my character”.
The former Speaker contrasted staff who had work with him loyally for years to what he called a “snobs and bigots faction” of those complaining against him.
He said: “One characteristic that so far several of the detractors have in common, and they are now going public, briefing, smearing, trying to use the media to prosecute the case against me ... is that they are institutionalised.
"They are change-resistant and they are people who are very long accustomed not just to having their say but to having their way.”
And he added: “I make no apology for the fact that I fought my corner. But the idea I was some sort of raging bull ... has no credibility at all.”
The final decision on whether to award Mr Bercow a peerage rests with the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which vets those proposed by political leaders for a place in the upper chamber.
Mr Bercow told the Guardian event that he “did care” about the decision to deny him a peerage, because it could lead future Speakers to worry whether they had “hacked off the Government”.