John Bercow reveals inquiry found him guilty of bullying but denounces ‘kangaroo court’

The former Speaker says he’s been found guilty of bullying three House of Commons staff

Laurie Churchman
Sunday 16 January 2022 17:32
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<p>Former Speaker John Bercow</p>

Former Speaker John Bercow

John Bercow, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, has revealed a parliamentary inquiry found him guilty of bullying three members of staff.

But he insists he has been the victim of a “kangaroo court” and has launched an appeal.

Mr Bercow told theSunday Times the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, found him guilty on 21 counts out of 35.

The allegations were brought by former clerk of the Commons Robert Lisvane and private secretaries Kate Emms and Angus Sinclair.

If the verdict is upheld, Mr Bercow could be banned from parliament for life or face a censure motion.

The 58-year-old said: “To call it a kangaroo court is unfair to kangaroos.”

He conceded he was a divisive, “Marmite” figure and could wind people up – but claimed he got on well with his team.

He told the BBC on Sunday: “I don’t say that I’m calm and imperturbable, I don’t say I’m never over-excitable, I don’t say I never get irritated.

“What I do say, with absolute and earnest insistence, is that I never bullied anybody.”

He suggested there was ill-will towards him because he tried to modernise the way the Commons works, saying that as Speaker, he sought to “bring about change against very change-resistant forces”.

Mr Bercow has faced criticism for attempting to get in his defence before the inquiry’s findings are officially announced.

Lord Lisvane accused him of making assertions “which are not true” and said the former Speaker had “casually broken” the confidentiality undertakings binding everyone involved.

He told the Sunday Times “the record will be clear” once he can speak publicly and the documents in the inquiry are published.

Mr Bercow in turn says his accusers failed to observe confidentiality over the 18-month process.

He added that claims made against him by David Leakey, a former parliamentary Black Rod, were rejected.

Mr Bercow denies all the accusations. He said these include making a racially and sexually discriminatory remark, throwing a mobile phone on two occasions nearly 12 years ago, and swearing at an employee in 2009.

He also said he was accused of staring hatefully at an employee 11 years ago and “ghosting” a staffer on a plane.

He described the inquiry as “materially flawed” and claimed in seven cases investigators found him innocent, only for Ms Stone to reverse the decision.

He argued that most of the evidence against him was “hearsay”, and said many witnesses were not present when the incidents were supposed to have occurred.

Mr Bercow said: “I resent massively my reputation being put through the wringer on the basis of a protracted, amateurish and unjust process.”

He added: “It’s been completely debilitating. It has done me reputational harm. It has done me some commercial damage. It’s been pretty unpleasant.”

Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons Standards Committee, said: “The house is determined to change its culture and nobody is above the rules.”

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