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Tue, 2 June 2020

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Top Commons clerk David Natzler announces resignation in wake of Parliament’s bullying scandal

Top Commons clerk David Natzler announces resignation in wake of Parliament’s bullying scandal
2 min read

Sir David Natzler has stepped down as the Clerk of the House of Commons with a call for Parliament's bosses to acknowledge their failure to root out bullying and harassment.

In a letter read to MPs by Commons Speaker John Bercow, Sir David Natzler said he would be stepping down as Parliament's top constitutional expert in March 2019 after four “turbulent” years in the post.

Commons bosses had faced calls to stand aside after Dame Laura Cox’s report into Parliamentary bullying concluded that management had “tolerated and concealed” a culture of harassment and abuse in Westminster.

In his resignation letter, Sir David said he was willing to acknowledge his past failings - and urged a culture in which those guilty of bullying and harassment were "called out".

He wrote: "The last 12 months have also of course seen the surfacing in various ways of the complex issue of bullying and harassment and sexual misconduct in the parliamentary community.

"I am confident that we can deal with it if we all acknowledge past failings – as I readily do – and move beyond concerns about process to reach a place where, quite simply, everybody in the community treats everybody else with respect and dignity. And where, if they do not, they are called out and if necessary sanctioned."

Reflecting on his four-year stint in the role - covering three Governments as well as the Scottish and European referendum - Sir David said he did not believe the public "appreciate the work of members, or their staff, as they should; and perhaps they never will".

He added: "I am also glad over the past four years to have been able to visit a number of constituency offices around the country and see at first hand the public service provided by Members staff. Members and their staff carry out their work in the face of spiteful abuse and threat and vilification. They deserve better."

Paying tribute to Sir David’s "outstanding" service, Mr Bercow - who has faced his own calls to quit - said: "For me, personally, Sir David has been a loyal colleague and friend – and I know his calm and good-humoured presence will be sorely missed by us all."

To applause from MPs, he added: "David, I am extraordinally grateful to you, you’ve been an outstanding clerk of the House. You have given dedicated and brilliant public service."

It is expected that Sir David’s replacement will be announced in January.

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