Put protections in place to stop future Speaker behaving like Bercow, MPs told

Michael Fabricant tells fellow MPs action needs to be taken to prevent a similar situation occurring again.

Safeguards must be put in place to prevent a future Speaker of the House of Commons from behaving like John Bercow, a Conservative MP has said (PA)
Safeguards must be put in place to prevent a future Speaker of the House of Commons from behaving like John Bercow, a Conservative MP has said (PA)

Safeguards must be put in place to prevent a future Speaker of the House of Commons from behaving like John Bercow, a Conservative MP has said.

Michael Fabricant, who represents Lichfield, told MPs about his disappointment that since an independent report upheld 21 bullying and harassment complaints against the former Commons Speaker, no initiative was taken to prevent a similar situation from happening.

The independent report labelled Mr Bercow a “serial bully” and a “serial liar” during his years in the speaker’s chair.

For eight years, this cast a dark shadow over this place. And when whistleblowers including myself tried to raise it in the chamber, we were shouted down

Michael Fabricant

Mr Bercow stood down in 2019 after a decade in the role and was replaced by Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

The former Commons Speaker, who has now been banned from holding a parliamentary pass, described the investigation as a “travesty of justice” and insisted he has nothing to say sorry for.

Raising the issue during business questions, Mr Fabricant said: “Two-and-a-half weeks ago, the Independent Expert Panel produced a report on the activities of John Bercow, where over 21 incidents of bullying of staff members of this House were proven.

“For eight years, this cast a dark shadow over this place. And when whistleblowers including myself tried to raise it in the chamber, we were shouted down.

“And indeed on one occasion, a former Labour leader of the House came up to me and told me it was inappropriate to even mention it in this chamber.

“I have to say, I’m slightly disappointed that since the report came out, we haven’t had a statement from the Leader of the House on this, and a statement in particular about what safeguards we can put in future when after you have left, and I hope you stay for a long time, Mr Speaker, I do.

“But if another unscrupulous Speaker, a serial liar, a serial bully, were to replace you, there must be something put in place to stop what happened last time. When are we going to hear some initiatives from our Leader of the House?”

Commons Leader Mark Spencer stressed that “there is no place for bullying or harassment” in Parliament and “MPs should be held to the highest standards”.

He added: “That’s why the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) was set up to improve the working culture within Parliament.

“I hope the decision of the ICGS gives all of those people in Westminster the confidence that if they come forward, their cases will be heard fairly, and those who commit such actions will be held to account.”

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