‘Bullying’ ex-Speaker John Bercow banned from Parliament for LIFE over appalling treatment of staff
Former Commons Speaker John Bercow faces being banned from Parliament for life for horrific bulling of staff during his time in office.
The former Tory MP has been blocked from holding a Commons pass usually given to ex-politicians, after a catalogue of appalling behaviour against three aides during his decade in the chair.
An official investigation found that he threw a mobile phone at one, swore at officials and made a racially and sexually discriminatory remark.
It also branded him a ‘serial liar’ over his evidence to the probe, and ‘his behaviour fell very far below that which the public has a right to expect from any Member of Parliament’.
The official censure handed down today also means he becomes the first Speaker of the House of Commons in modern history to be blocked from a peerage as a reward after standing down.
In a report published this morning, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, found him guilty of 21 claims made against him relating to behaviour during his decade as Speaker from 2009 to 2019.
Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) today branded him a ‘serial bully’ and recommended he be blocked from holding a pass, saying if he was still an MP he would face expulsion.
But in an astonishing 800-word rant, Mr Bercow blasted the decision, saying it was a ‘travesty of justice rooted in prejudice, spite and hearsay’ carried out by a ‘kangaroo court’.
And he vowed to circumvent the ban, saying he would continue to attend ‘with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public’.
John Bercow during his time as Speaker of the House of Commons. The former Tory MP could be banned from Parliament for life after the publication of a report into his behaviour tomorrow
Kathryn Stone (pictured), the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, is set to publish her findings tomorrow. It is believed she will have found him guilty of 21 claims made against him relating to behaviour during his decade as speaker
Out of order: Bercow’s bullying laid bare:
- In early 2010 Mr Sinclair told the Speaker that his private apartment in Parliament would not be available to his family during that year’s election campaign. Subsequently he subjected his secretary to ‘an amazing display of temper in my office, in which he ordered me to stay seated, so he was standing over me, and then threw the mobile phone right in front of me on my desk and it burst into hundreds of bits and I could feel them hitting me. It was the most violent, extraordinary display of temper….’
- The same year Mr Sinclair was blamed by the Speaker for a failure to obtain a license to conduct civil partnerships in Parliament in time to help an MP. Bercow shouted: ‘What the f*ck! Nothing surprises me about you – it’s your job – don’t you understand you (are stupid) – f*ck! It’s your job you are to do this despite what Clerk has said – you are to find out.’ He also accused Sinclair of being homophobic.
- Later in 2010 Ms Emms went with Bercow on an official visit to Kenya, which saw him stopped at security over a banned toiletry item. After it was confiscated Bercow ‘threw a temper tantrum and then sulked, refusing to acknowledge the complainant during the flight and on arrival in Kenya’. ‘Her account is that she was shocked and distressed by the respondent’s attitude, which was, she says, aggressive and quite out of proportion,’ the report noted.
- In 2012 Bercow subjected Lord Lisvane, then a clerk, to a ‘personal and sneering attack’ over his views on diversity. In a private meeting in a study, Lisvane said the Speaker ‘broke into a torrent of abuse, accusing him of being duplicitous, manipulative, of lying, and of bullying the complainant’s staff’.
‘All I can say is that the case against me would have been thrown out by any court in the land since it is based on the flimsiest of evidence, rooted in hearsay and baseless rumour, and advanced by old school dogmatists once intent on resisting change at all costs and now settling some ancient scores with me,’ he added.
‘Add to that a dash of personal spite and you have some idea of the vengeful vendetta mounted against me.
‘It is a travesty of justice and brings shame on the House of Commons.’
But Ms Stone upheld 21 out of 35 counts brought by Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the Commons, and former private secretaries Kate Emms and Angus Sinclair.
The Commissioner found that, for example, Mr Bercow had displayed ‘intimidatory’ and ‘undermining behaviour’, and ‘threatening conduct’ towards Mr Sinclair, including verbal abuse, displays of anger, and seeking to humiliate him in front of others.
He also shouted at and mimicked Ms Emms, created ‘an intimidating and hostile environment’, and was responsible for ‘intimidating, insulting behaviour involving an abuse of power’ towards her.
Lord Lisvane – then Sir Robert Rogers – was subjected to ‘a sustained course of conduct …that involved repeated unfounded criticism of the complainant … both publicly and privately … often made at length and at volume and included derogatory inferences about [his] upbringing and background.’
The report added: ‘It is for historians to judge whether the respondent was a successful reforming Speaker of the House of Commons.
‘However, there was no need to act as a bully in order to achieve that aim. A great office can be filled forcefully and effectively without descending to such behaviour.
A senior Commons source told MailOnline that there was ‘shock’ at the severity of the conclusions on Bercow.
The source suggested that the House could now consider whether he should be banned entirely from the Parliamentary estate. ‘That will be something the House could do,’ they said.
Tory MP James Duddridge told MailOnline: ‘I presume the Labour Party will revoke his membership, the Labour Party will not want a bully as we did not want John Bercow.’
After a controversy-ridden decade as Speaker, Mr Bercow stood down in 2019, defecting to Labour last year.
At the centre of blistering parliamentary rows over Brexit, he became the first Speaker in 230 years not to be offered a peerage.
He was instead nominated by Jeremy Corbyn – and that was blocked due to the bullying probe.
Earlier this year, Mr Bercow branded the inquiry a ‘kangaroo court’ which was ‘protracted, amateurish and unjust’, as he took the unusual step of making Miss Stone’s findings public.
Two claims brought by Lieutenant-General David Leakey, a former Black Rod, were rejected by the inquiry that has taken almost two years.
It was previously suggested in the Commons that Lord Lisvane may have left his role in 2014 in part because he was told to ‘f*** off’ by Mr Bercow at least once.
The former Speaker has consistently denied the claim, insisting two years ago: ‘For the record, I categorically deny that I have ever bullied anyone anywhere at any time.’
In an interview earlier this year, Mr Bercow admitted he was a ‘Marmite figure’, but criticised the investigation, declaring: ‘The whole process stinks’
‘Am I a stiff-upper-lipped Englishman? No. Am I a model of calm and stoicism and imperturbability at all times? No. Can I get ratty? Yes. Am I sometimes overexcitable? Yes. Did I handle every situation in the chamber as I should have? No. I’m flawed. I sometimes wind people up unnecessarily. But I had hugely collegiate relations with my team,’ he told the Sunday Times.
He added: ‘It is suggested that I stared hate-filled at an employee 11 years ago. Nine witnesses present at the meeting were not interviewed but I was judged guilty.
‘It is said that I ‘ghosted’ a staffer on an aeroplane. No, it was a night flight and I was asleep before addressing 300 people at a conference the next day.
‘I am falsely accused of swearing at an employee on an uncertain date in 2009. He names a colleague whom he told of the encounter. The colleague has no recollection of this,’ he added.
Mr Bercow said one complainant claimed he ‘made a racially and sexually discriminatory remark, which I would not dream of doing’.
He added he was ‘wrongly alleged to have thrown a mobile phone on two occasions nearly 12 years ago’.
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