John Bercow dismisses bullying accusations as 'total and utter rubbish'

4 February 2020, 20:27

John Bercow has denied all the accusations
John Bercow has denied all the accusations. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

John Bercow has dismissed claims that he "brutalised" parliamentary staff as "total and utter rubbish".

The former speaker of the House of Commons 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."

Lieutenant General Leakey has made the accusations
Lieutenant General Leakey has made the accusations. Picture: PA

Mr Bercow also commented: "Absurdly, preposterously he's turning up years later, a couple of years after he left the house, commenting on events he can't possibly know about because he'd already left.

"He said something about my relations with Andrea Leadsom in May 2018, something I allegedly said to her and made her cry, he wouldn't know, he'd left three months before.

"The guy is a know-nothing, he wouldn't have the foggiest idea what he's talking about.

"He was deeply hostile towards me. He's entitled to his views but on the matter of bullying he suffers from the disadvantage of being 100% wrong. Amen."

He also called former Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom "untrustworthy" and a "poor leader of the house".

In response, she said: "Well, you know, he's got a book to sell and I don't want to give him any extra air time. That's it."

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.

Lt Gen Leakey was among those who made allegations at the time and called for Mr Bercow to consider his position.

Mr Bercow left the Speaker's chair on October 31 and has been replaced by Sir Lindsay Hoyle.