Allegations of bullying against the former Commons speaker John Bercow are “very concerning” and should be “investigated thoroughly”, Downing Street has said.
Number 10 said it was “important” the parliamentary leadership responds “fully and promptly to any concerns which are raised” after The Times reported that a formal complaint has been filed against the former speaker by a peer who served as his most senior official.
Lord Lisvane, who was Clerk of the House, has handed a dossier of allegations to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, according to the paper.
There can be no place for bullying or abuse in Westminster or any workplace and it is important that the parliamentary leadership responds fully and promptly to any concerns which are raisedThe Prime Minister's official spokesman
Mr Bercow dismissed the claims as having come at a “curious” time, with suggestions that he may be in line for a peerage.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “These are very concerning allegations and they need to be investigated thoroughly.
“Everyone working in Parliament deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
“There can be no place for bullying or abuse in Westminster or any workplace and it is important that the parliamentary leadership responds fully and promptly to any concerns which are raised.”
Earlier, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said the complaint, if it is upheld, should have an “impact” on whether he is made a peer.
Mrs Leadsom, who as leader of the Commons clashed repeatedly with Mr Bercow, told Sky News that the complaints procedures for parliamentary staff – which she helped establish – applied to everyone in the House.
“The whole purpose of that was that anybody, including the Speaker of the House of Commons whoever he or she may be, should also be subject to that procedure,” she said.
“In the event that there are genuine, upheld complaints about any persons that should have an impact on whether they are found suitable for the House of Lords.”
The document is said to accuse Mr Bercow of having bullied and humiliated staff, including using inappropriate language.
Mr Bercow has consistently denied allegations of bullying from former members of staff in the past.
In a statement on Thursday, he said: “During the five years that we worked together, Lord Lisvane had ample opportunity to raise any accusations of bullying with me.
“At no stage did he do so, even though he became Clerk of the House – the most senior official. The timing of this intervention is curious.”
Outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has reportedly been lining up Mr Bercow, who was a Tory MP before becoming speaker, for a peerage.
But there have been suggestions that Downing Street could hamper the move, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman highlighting a “long-standing convention” that opposition leaders nominate individuals form their own parties.
Mr Bercow left the speaker’s chair on October 31 and has been replaced by Sir Lindsay Hoyle.