Serjeant-at-Arms hits out at 'witch hunt' against John Bercow
There is an unfair attempt underway to discredit the Speaker. But the staff of the Commons will not sit by and allow a ‘witch hunt’ to go unchallenged, writes the Serjeant-at-Arms Kamal El-Hajji
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Mr Speaker John Bercow on the one-year anniversary of his re-election.
There has recently been article after article in the daily newspapers containing speculation and accusations regarding Mr Speaker’s code of conduct and the allegedly ‘unprofessional’ way that he treats staff and colleagues working in Parliament.
Due to a considerable lack of evidence supporting these allegations, it seems clear to me that there is a witch hunt against him, whether it is coming from previously disgruntled staff members or ex-colleagues trying to settle old scores of some kind.
However, I have decided to write this to highlight what “we” as the present staff and senior officials team working in the House of Commons think of Mr Speaker.
The reason I use the word “we” instead of “me” is that I have discussed these allegations at length with numerous colleagues and we share the same view – we feel that there is a witch hunt going on trying to discredit Mr Speaker.
Since taking over the role of Serjeant-at-Arms in the House of Commons at the end of 2015, things have not been very easy. I was the first non-white person to hold the role in its 600-year history. It certainly felt like there were a lot of unhappy people because of my appointment, and the only viable explanation I can think of is that I am from an ethnic background.
The support and guidance that Mr Speaker has showed me since I started is probably one of the main factors behind why I am still fulfilling this very prestigious role today.
Parliament has never in its history enjoyed the inclusion and diversity that it does today, and this is thanks to Mr Speaker’s drive to make parliament a place for talent, regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs, disability or any other sort of discriminatory factor.
I felt it’s important to stand up for what is right and to show support and solidarity to someone who has done such a great deal for Parliament and for the country.
Kamal El-Hajji is the Serjeant at Arms of the House of Commons