Bullying and harassment 'allowed to thrive' in the House of Commons, report finds

  • Video report by ITV News political correspondent Carl Dinnen

The House of Commons has allowed a culture to develop of "deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence" in which the bullying and harassment of staff has been able to thrive, according to a report.

Dame Laura Cox QC, who was appointed to investigate claims of bullying and harassment of staff, said there were "urgent and serious problems" in the procedures for dealing with such issues.

However, she said it was "difficult to envisage" how solutions could be delivered under the current senior House administration.

Speaker of the House John Bercow and Labour MP Keith Vaz are among those to have been accused of bullying in recent months.

In February, a separate report found that sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour had also been experienced by around a fifth of Westminster staff.

Labour MP Keith Vaz was accused of bullying clerks. Credit: PA

Dame Laura's report stated: "Amongst current and former staff alike there is an obvious pride and affection for the House and its status.

"Working there is, for many, a privilege – whether as a member of House staff or as an elected Member of Parliament – and there is an expectation of loyalty to the institution they serve."

The report continued: "But that sense of loyalty has been tested to breaking point by a culture, cascading from the top down, of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence, in which bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been able to thrive and have long been tolerated and concealed.

"This is not to demonise the entire institution, but unacceptable behaviour by some, whether elected Members or House staff, inflicts damage on everyone and undermines the legitimacy and authority of the House of Commons. Parliament is diminished."

Last year, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed that a "warped and degrading culture" existed in Parliament over allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour by MPs.