'Tense and difficult' Lindsay Hoyle 'had heated debates' with Bercow but wasn't bullied

17 March 2022, 18:27 | Updated: 17 March 2022, 19:34

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said debates in parliament became "very tense" and "difficult" when John Bercow was Speaker
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said debates in parliament became "very tense" and "difficult" when John Bercow was Speaker. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Megan Hinton

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he saw "heated debates" and that things became "very tense" and "difficult" while working for John Bercow.

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Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr, the current Speaker of the House claimed to never have spotted "direct bullying" from his former colleagues but said he had been witness to "heated debates" where tempers could have bee restrained.

Quizzing the MP, Andrew Marr on his role as deputy under John Bercow, Sir Lindsay said: "You were deputy of course, to speaker Bercow for a long time, can I ask whether you saw any sign ever of improper behaviour or bullying behaviour by the speaker?"

To which Sir Lindsay replied: "What I would say is I had a nine year tenure working with the speaker. It got tense at times, which in life, it can be very tense, and life can be difficult.

"But I will say I personally didn't suffer bullying bit I will say at times, it became very strange, very tense. But in the end, I can only say that I came in with a new clean sweep to what I believe my job is of the house. And what I still always will do is protect the people who've worked in that house and making sure that their futures can continue.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle reflects on time he spent working with John Bercow

"Did you see any bullying of anybody else? I what I would say is direct bullying, I cannot say I saw direct bullying.

"I may have seen some heated debates and tempers that sometimes can be restrained."

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His comments come after an independent panel has found John Bercow is a "serial bully" who should have been "expelled" if he was still an MP.

The damning conclusions were upheld by an Independent Expert Panel following an investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

It has been recommended he should lose his parliamentary pass - and Labour has reportedly suspended him. Although he was a Tory before becoming speaker, he announced he had joined Sir Keir Starmer's party last year.

Mr Bercow, who stepped down from his role as speaker in 2019, has already hit out at the findings, branding the probe as a "travesty of justice" and "amateurish".

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John Bercow hits out at 'bully' inquiry findings

A report into his behaviour said: "It is for historians to judge whether the respondent was a successful reforming Speaker of the House of Commons.

"However, there was no need to act as a bully in order to achieve that aim. A great office can be filled forcefully and effectively without descending to such behaviour.

"Don't fall for the establishment spin that I have been banned for life. I can still attend debates with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public.

"All I can say is that the case against me would have been thrown out by any court in the land since it is based on the flimsiest of evidence, rooted in hearsay and baseless rumour, and advanced by old school dogmatists once intent on resisting change at all costs and now settling some ancient scores with me.

"Add to that a dash of personal spite and you have some idea of the vengeful vendetta mounted against me. It is a travesty of justice and brings shame on the House of Commons.

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"This has been a protracted, amateurish and unjust process which would not have survived five minutes' scrutiny in court. To describe what I have experienced as a kangaroo court is grossly insulting to kangaroos.

"None of the investigators is a lawyer and the commissioner overseeing them has no expertise whatsoever in the consideration of alleged bullying.

"Throughout, gossip from absent friends of the complainants has been treated as the absolute truth whilst eyewitnesses who challenged the allegations were described as 'not helpful' and discounted. The commissioner even presumed to make findings on matters about which I was never questioned."

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Lord Lisvane speaks to LBC in wake of John Bercow report

The panel rejected appeals by Mr Bercow over bullying against three people – former Commons clerk Lord Lisvane, as well as Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms, who worked as his private secretaries.

Ms Stone had 21 of the allegations, which included one instance of Mr Bercow hurling a phone in anger, from the three complainants against Mr Bercow upheld.

The panel concluded the bullying and harassment policy "was breached repeatedly and extensively by the most senior Member of the House of Commons".