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Bercow dismisses claims he ‘brutalised’ parliamentary staff as ‘utter rubbish’

David Leakey had told Sky News that the ex-Speaker ‘brutalised staff in the House of Commons and elsewhere, and I include myself in that’.


John Bercow (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

John Bercow (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

John Bercow (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ex-Commons Speaker John Bercow has dismissed as “total and utter rubbish” claims he “brutalised” parliamentary staff.

The former MP said David Leakey, who served as Black Rod until 2018, did not know what his relations were like with his clerks, amid allegations of bullying.

Lieutenant General Leakey said last month that he would submit a dossier to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards outlining the “intolerable rudeness and explosive behaviour” of the ex-Commons speaker.

He told Sky News that Mr Bercow “brutalised staff in the House of Commons and elsewhere, and I include myself in that”.

Responding to the comments, Mr Bercow told the broadcaster: “Total and utter rubbish – from start to finish…

“First point is that David Leakey didn’t work for me, he wasn’t employed by me, he wasn’t an employee of the House of Commons.

“He worked in and was the protocol officer of the House of Lords. He is in absolutely no position whatsoever to comment on my relations with my parliamentary colleagues, of which he is completely and utterly ignorant.

“He doesn’t know what my relations were with my clerks. He has absolutely no intelligence on those matters whatsoever.

“What we have got here is somebody who left the House, who is thrashing about, desperate to remain relevant, popping up at every turn, trying to make himself seem very important, very centre stage, very at the heart of things in the way that I went about my work.”

Lt Gen Leakey said in a statement in response to the remarks: “Mr Bercow clearly does not understand how the role of Black Rod operates in the Houses of Parliament. During my tenure, some 30% of my work as Black Rod was within or for the House of Commons.

“I had very close working relationships with both senior and junior House of Commons staff and almost daily dealings with MPs.

“The former Speaker also responds to the serious allegations of bullying stretching back throughout his decade in the Chair, by focusing on my comments and suggesting that I have only made these recently, some time after leaving my parliamentary post.

“In reality, my allegations are not sudden or opportunistic, as he suggests, in the context of his current nomination for a peerage by the Leader of the Opposition… a nomination Mr Bercow confirmed in his Sky interview.

“Allegations surfaced in 2018 of Mr Bercow bullying two former private secretaries, Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms. Mr Sinclair accused the speaker of “over-the-top anger”, shouting, swearing and intimidation.

“I first made these allegations public two years ago, at a time when there was no process for making such a complaint or for investigating it. Now such a process has, belatedly, been set up, I am among those who have chosen to lodge a formal complaint in the hope that such intolerable behaviour as I and others have catalogued may never be tolerated in Parliament again, either by a Member or an official – however senior.”

Mr Bercow left the Speaker’s chair on October 31 and has been replaced by Sir Lindsay Hoyle.