by Tom-Henry Jones
John Bercow, former Speaker of the House of Commons, has come under more pressure since further bullying claims have come to light. Bercow, Speaker from 2009 to 2019, was first accused of bullying his staff early last year. Lord Lisvane, who served as Clerk of the House, one of Bercow’s most senior staff, submitted a formal complaint last week.
In a statement, Bercow ‘categorically’ denies the claims, that have mounted since he stepped down as Speaker in November last year. Lisvane worked under the Speaker for three years before retiring in 2014. The complaints accuse Bercow of bullying and humiliating staff, claims which he said had ‘no substance’. An inquiry into the allegations was proposed but was blocked by MPs last year.
Bercow also made history as being the first former Speaker not to be offered a Peerage and a seat in the House of Lords. Boris Johnson defied tradition by not nominating the former Speaker for a peerage. The Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn stepped in to nominate Bercow, despite the bullying allegations against him.
Bercow was often amid the controversy in his time as Speaker due to his actions in the Chair. Bercow regularly took criticism from Conservative MPs last year for allegedly thwarting Brexit legalisation. Boris Johnson and Theresa May both had Brexit votes ruled out by the Speaker, prompting criticism that Bercow was acting unconventionally as an impartial member of the House.
Lindsay Hoyle, the newly elected Speaker has since pledged he would introduce greater ‘transparency’ to the way he makes decisions. The statement was seen by many as a ‘veiled attack’ on Bercow who was often at the centre of controversial rulings during the Brexit crisis last year.
Hoyle, Labour MP for Chorley since 1997, was elected as the new speaker overwhelmingly last autumn, beating his opponent, fellow Labour Party MP, Chris Bryant by winning 325 of the 540 total votes cast. He is seen as a widely respected member of the House of Commons with supporters from both sides of the House.
Bercow’s place at the centre of the controversy is not set to end since more allegations have come to light and a formal complaint against his behaviour has been submitted. The challenge for Bercow depends on whether he can escape the charges with his reputation still intact.