Tonypandy labelled a 'bully' by former Tory MP

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Lord Tonypandy, the revered Speaker of the Commons who died last month aged 88, was denounced by a distinguished historian and former Tory MP yesterday as "an arrogant, sanctimonious, deceitful and malicious bully".

And, in the astonishing attack, Sir Robert Rhodes James said there were those who regarded the former George Thomas "as a fraud and a charlatan, eager to bend the knee to anyone above his station and thinly contemptuous of anyone deemed to be below it".

Sir Robert, who was a clerk of the House of Commons before he became an MP, will stoke up outrage at this onslaught which appears in the Spectator magazine under the heading "Not As Nice as All That". He recalls: "My first encounter with George was in the early 1960s, when I was a clerk of the House of Commons and he was chairing his first standing committee. It was a fairly insignificant committee, dealing with private members' bills, but George behaved as though he was the new headmaster of a turbulent school which needed to be taught a severe lesson.

"His harshness was directed less at the members than at the hapless officials; he bawled out the policeman at the door for not closing it on time; he was nasty to the Hansard reporters; he treated me with contemptuous disdain ... Unsurprisingly, we deeply disliked him, regarding him as an arrogant, sanctimonious, deceitful and malicious bully."

He added: "The mutual antipathy between him and the clerks was to survive during his Speakership".