'Calling bullying inquiry a kangaroo court would be an insult to kangaroos': Bercow

16 January 2022, 12:40 | Updated: 16 January 2022, 13:57

John Bercow hit back at a bullying inquiry's findings
John Bercow hit back at a bullying inquiry's findings. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Ex-Commons speaker John Bercow has hit back at an inquiry into bullying allegations against him, claiming that to "say it's a kangaroo court is a very, very, very offensive insult to kangaroos".

The former MP has been found guilty on 21 claims out of 35 that were made by Lord Robert Lisvane, a former clerk of the House of Commons, which Mr Bercow presided over for a decade - as well as by two private secretaries.

The findings from Parliament's commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, are being appealed by Mr Bercow and a final decision is due later in January.

But Mr Bercow has gone on the attack, criticising the way the inquiry was conducted and insisting the "powers that be" wanted his "scalp".

"I'm not [a bully]. There's a process – this process has been protracted, amateurish and unjust," he told LBC's Tom Swarbrick on Sunday.

"Witnesses who were present were not interviewed, witnesses who were not present were interviewed.

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"Hearsay was preferred over direct testimony. When people said "I don't remember that, I don't recall John Bercow behaving in that way", they were described as unhelpful and their evidence was to be disregarded.

"And the Commissioner upheld allegations which had been rejected by the investigators and without taking any new evidence or interviewing me."

He said the inquiry involved matters from up to 12 years prior, and insisted they would not be heard in "any court" in the UK.

"The powers that be were determined to get their scalp – that is the reality of the matter," Mr Bercow, who was speaker from 2009 to 2019, added.

He blamed his attempt to carry out reforms during his time in the chair, saying a "sprinkling" of people were determined to resist him.

He told LBC the "whole process stinks" and that "to say that it's a kangaroo court is a very, very, very offensive insult to kangaroos".

He has told the Sunday Times that allegations include a claim that he twice threw a mobile phone, which he says were refuted by people present. However, he claimed that testimony from two people he insists were not present was preferred.

The inquiry, which has run for 18 months, rejected claims brought forward by the former Black Rod of the Commons, Lieutenant General David Leakey.

Joining Lord Lisvane in making allegations against Mr Bercow were Kate Emms and Angus Sinclair, who worked as his private secretaries.

Lord Lisvane told the Times: "Everyone involved in this exacting two-year inquiry has had to undertake to preserve strict confidentiality. This is an undertaking that Mr Bercow has now casually broken.

"As with many rules, it appears that he believes this does not apply to him. He now makes assertions which are not true.

“When I am released from the duty of confidentiality and all the documents in the inquiry are published, the record will be clear."

A spokesman for the House of Commons said: "We cannot comment on individual cases or allegations."