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Wed, 15 July 2020

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Top Tory says John Bercow should welcome probe into bullying allegations

Top Tory says John Bercow should welcome probe into bullying allegations
2 min read

A senior Tory MP has said John Bercow should welcome an investigation into allegations of bullying made by former parliamentary staff.

The Speaker has faced a string of claims about his behaviour in recent weeks, while Downing Street has called for a full investigation into his conduct.

Paul Scully, a vice-chair of the Conservative party, said MPs could be frustrated by the “inconsistency” of Mr Bercow's manner, following a defence from a former doorkeeper and Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms who said Mr Bercow “doesn't suffer fools gladly”.

“The problem is it's some days more than others or less than others, because it's the inconsistency I think that does frustrate MPs at various times,” Mr Scully told the BBC’s Westminster Hour.

“There are some days he could probably be taking the medicine that he prescribes backbenchers every other PMQs himself. So I think he really needs to be aware of what people are thinking and be open.

“These are serious allegations and I think rather than necessarily just trying to close them down, be open, be up front and say OK, fine, investigate and see what you find.”

Mr Scully added that the independent inquiry into bullying in the Commons, set up by Dame Laura Cox should be open to looking specifically at claims against Mr Bercow.

The intervention comes as The Times reports that a cabinet minister has referred the speaker to the parliamentary standards watchdog after accusing him of “bellowing” at a young clerk in his office.

It follows allegations by former private secretary Angus Sinclair, who said he was subjected to a string of angry outbursts, swearing and mimicry while working for the Speaker, and was paid £86,250 when he quit in 2010 in a deal that required him to promise not to speak about his experiences.

Meanwhile his successor, Kate Emms, claimed he undermined and shouted at her, eventually leading to her being signed off sick.

And last week David Leakey, who served as Black Rod from 2011 until earlier this year, told PoliticsHome that the speaker’s behaviour “risks bringing Parliament into disrepute”.

He said: “There were lots of people who were, frankly, terrified of the Speaker.”

Yesterday a number of Tory MPs threatened to “throw the kitchen sink” at Mr Bercow in the Commons, with a series of questions and motions calling on him to resign.

And Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, told the Sunday Times that the bullying scandal in the House was a “great concern” and had left “a cloud hanging over parliament”.

A spokesman for the Speaker has vehemently denied the accusations by both former staffers.

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