‘Intimidating’ ex-speaker John Bercow banned from parliament for LIFE over appalling treatment of staff
Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow faces being banned from Parliament for life for horribly intimidating staff while in office.
The former Tory MP has been barred from holding a Commons pass usually given to former politicians, after a catalog of appalling behavior against three aides during his decade in the presidency.
An official investigation found he threw a cellphone at one of them, insulted officials and made a racially and sexually discriminatory remark.
He also called him a “serial liar” for his testimony at the inquest, and “his behavior fell far short of what the public has a right to expect of any MP”.
The official censure pronounced 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 stepping down.
In a report released this morning, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, found him guilty of 21 charges brought against him relating to his behavior during his decade in the presidency from 2009 to 2019.
Parliament’s Independent Panel (IEP) today branded him a ‘serial bully’ and recommended he be barred from holding a pass, saying if he was still an MP he would would risk expulsion.
But in a stunning 800-word rant, Mr Bercow blasted the ruling, saying it was a ‘travesty of justice rooted in prejudice, grudge 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 pass holder or as a member of the public’.
John Bercow when he was Speaker of the House of Commons. The former Tory MP could be banned from Parliament for life after a report into his behavior is published tomorrow
Kathryn Stone (pictured), the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, is due to publish her findings tomorrow. It is believed she will have found him guilty of 21 complaints made against him relating to his behavior during his decade as a lecturer.
Out of Order: Bercow’s Bullying Exposed:
- In early 2010, Mr Sinclair told the President that his private apartment in Parliament would not be available to his family during that year’s election campaign. Afterwards, he gave his secretary “an astonishing display of anger in my office, during which he ordered me to stay seated, so he stood over me, then threw the cell phone right in front of me on my desk and it burst into hundreds of pieces and I could feel them hitting me. It was the most violent and extraordinary display of temper….
- In the same year, Mr Sinclair was accused by the President of failing to obtain a license in time to conduct civil partnerships in Parliament to help an MP. Bercow shouted: ‘What the fuck! Nothing surprises me about you – it’s your job – you don’t understand yourself (you’re stupid) – damn it! It’s your job that you have to do this despite what the clerk said – you have 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 for a banned toiletry item. After its confiscation, Bercow “thrown a tantrum and then sulked, refusing to acknowledge the complainant during the flight and upon his arrival in Kenya”. “Her account is that she was shocked and distressed by the respondent’s attitude, which she said was aggressive and quite disproportionate,” the report noted.
- In 2012, Bercow subjected then-clerk Lord Lisvane to a “personal and mocking attack” on his views on diversity. In a private meeting at a study, Lisvane said the President “erupted into a torrent of abuse, accusing him of being deceitful, manipulative, lying and intimidating the plaintiff’s staff”.
- During a meeting in January 2014, Bercow launched into a rant. Physically trembling with fury, his fists clenched and shaking, his eyes bulging, he accused [Lisvane] for more than 15 minutes of incompetence, duplicity and subversion, playing the role of a wise orator when all around him were ill-intentioned incompetents”.
“All I can say is that the case against me would have been dismissed by any court in the land, as it is based on the most flimsy evidence, rooted in hearsay and rumor without foundation, and advanced by old-school dogmatists once determined to resist change at all costs and now settle old scores with me, he added.
“Add to that a hint of personal grudge and you have an idea of the vengeful vendetta mounted against me.
“It’s a travesty of justice and puts the House of Commons to shame.”
But Ms Stone confirmed 21 of the 35 charges 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 exhibited ‘intimidating behaviour’, ‘compromising behaviour’ and ‘threatening behaviour’ towards Mr Sinclair, including violence verbal abuse, displays of anger and attempts at humiliation in front of others.
He also shouted at and imitated Ms Emms, created ‘an intimidating and hostile environment’ and was responsible for ‘bullying and insulting behavior involving abuse of power’ towards her.
Lord Lisvane – then Sir Robert Rogers – was subjected to “sustained conduct…which involved repeated unfounded criticism of the Complainant…both in public and in private…often made at length and in volume and included derogatory inferences about [his] education and background.’
The report added: ‘It is for historians to judge whether the respondent succeeded in reforming the Speaker of the House of Commons.
“However, it was not necessary to act like a tyrant to achieve this goal. A large office can be filled with strength and efficiency without falling into such behavior.
A senior Commons source told MailOnline there was “shock” at the seriousness of the Bercow findings.
The source suggested that the House could now consider whether he should be banned from the parliamentary realm altogether. “It will be something the House could do,” they said.
Tory MP James Duddridge told MailOnline: ‘I guess Labor will revoke their membership, Labor won’t want a bully because we didn’t want John Bercow.’
After a controversial decade as chairman, Mr Bercow stepped down in 2019, defecting to Labor last year.
At the center of heated parliamentary wrangling over Brexit, he became the first president in 230 years not to be offered a peerage.
He was instead nominated by Jeremy Corbyn – and that was blocked due to the bullying inquiry.
Earlier this year, Mr Bercow called the inquest a “kangaroo court” that was “protracted, amateurish and unfair”, as he took the unusual step of making Miss Stone’s findings public.
Two claims made by Lt. Gen. David Leakey, a former Black Rod, were dismissed by the investigation which lasted nearly two years.
It has already been suggested in the House of Commons that Lord Lisvane may have left his role in 2014 partly because Mr Bercow told him to ‘f*** off’ at least once.
The former president has consistently denied that claim, insisting two years ago: “For the record, I categorically deny ever bullying anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
In an interview earlier this year, Mr Bercow admitted he was a ‘pot figure’ but criticized the investigation, saying: ‘The whole process stinks’
“Am I a stiff-lipped Englishman? No. Am I a model of calm, stoicism and imperturbability at all times? No. Can I get seedy? Yes. Am I sometimes overexcited? Yes. Did I handle every situation in the room as I should have? No, I’m imperfect. I sometimes confuse people unnecessarily. But I had an extremely collegial relationship with my team,” he told The Sunday Times.
He added: “It is suggested that I watched an employee full of hate 11 years ago. Nine witnesses present at the meeting were not heard but I was found guilty.
“They say I ‘ghosted’ a member of staff on a plane. No, it was an overnight flight and I was sleeping before addressing 300 people at a conference the next day.
“I am falsely accused of having insulted an employee on an uncertain date in 2009. He names a colleague to whom he told of the meeting. The colleague has no memory of it,” he added.
Mr Bercow said a complainant claimed to have “made a racially and sexually discriminatory remark which I would not dream of doing”.
He added that he was “incorrectly alleged to have thrown a mobile phone twice almost 12 years ago”.