Commons Speaker John Bercow to step aside from bullying debate

editorial image
Have your say

Commons Speaker John Bercow will step aside during discussions on a probe into bullying of parliamentary staff.

Mr Bercow faced criticism when he chaired a debate on the treatment of workers in the Commons despite facing allegations about his own conduct.

The Speaker heads a committee that will meet on Monday to look at plans for a “short, independently-led” inquiry into the claims, but will recuse himself during the discussion.

MPs debated claims by BBC Two’s Newsnight that women officials responsible for running the business of the House had been bullied.

The report included a claim Mr Bercow shouted at and undermined his former private secretary Kate Emms, eventually leading to her being signed off sick.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said the claims were a “huge concern” and everyone in Parliament “should be held to the same high standards”.

Conservative James Duddridge questioned whether it was “appropriate” for the Speaker to remain in his seat during the debate “when there are allegations against him, which he is trying to suppress using taxpayer-funded money through sending out letters through Speaker’s Counsel”.

Mr Bercow has denied the allegations against him, as have the two other MPs named by the programme – Labour’s Paul Farrelly and Conservative Mark Pritchard.

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake will chair discussions about an inquiry into the allegations when the House of Commons Commission meets on Monday.

A spokesman for the Speaker said: “Mr Speaker informed House of Commons Commission members this morning that he has decided to recuse himself from the agenda item concerning an Independent Complaints and Grievance Process.

“This item will now be taken first, with Tom Brake in the chair. Mr Speaker will join the meeting once this item has concluded and chair the rest of the meeting.”

READ MORE: Poll: Most Scots don’t want IndyRef2 in next three years