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Sat, 4 April 2020

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John Bercow launches bitter attack on former Black Rod as he denies bullying claims

John Bercow launches bitter attack on former Black Rod as he denies bullying claims
3 min read

John Bercow has launched an outspoken attack on former Black Rod David Leakey as he strenuously denied allegations that he is a bully.

The ex-Speaker said the accusations from the senior Parliamentary official were "total and utter rubbish from start to finish".

Last month, Mr Leakey described Mr Bercow as "a Jekyll and Hyde character" who terrified those who worked under him.

He said he was submitting a dossier to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, who is also investigating a separate allegation of bullying by Lord Lisvane, the former House of Commons chief clerk.

Mr Leakey said: "I strongly urge others, staff and politicians, who have witnessed Bercow’s conduct behind closed doors to come forward and offer their testimony. 

"In particular, I appeal to the most senior Commons officials, including Sir David Natzler (recently retired as clerk of the House) and John Benger (the current clerk) to step up to their duty. They have personal experiences of their own, and have seen the impact and devastating consequences of Bercow’s treatment of individuals."

But in an interview with Sky News, Mr Bercow - who has been nominated for a peerage by Jeremy Corbyn - dismissed the allegations and went on the offensive against his accuser.

He said: "First point is that 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.

"He 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 had 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 said the pair had had two arguments in 2011 and 2012, but had "got along perfectly adequately" after that.

He added: "Absurdly, preposterously he's turning up years later, a couple of years after he left the House, commenting on events he can't possibly know about because he'd already left.

"He said something about my relations with Andrea Leadsom in May 2018, something I allegedly said to her and made her cry, he wouldn't know he'd left three months before.

"The guy is a know-nothing, he wouldn't have the foggiest idea what he's talking about.

"He was deeply hostile towards me. He's entitled to his views but on the matter of bullying he suffers from the disadvantage of being 100% wrong. Amen."

Responding to Mr Bercow's comments, Mr Leakey said: "My allegations are not sudden or opportunistic, as he suggests, in the context of his current nomination for a peerage by the Leader of the Opposition... a nomination Mr Bercow confirmed in his Sky interview.

"I first made these allegations public two years ago, at a time when there was no process for making such a complaint or for investigating it. Now such a process has, belatedly, been set up, I am among those who have chosen to lodge a formal complaint in the hope that such intolerable behaviour as I and others have catalogued may never be tolerated in Parliament again, either by a member or an official - however senior."

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

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