'It's a stitch up': Former Speaker John Bercow denies being a 'serial bully'

John Bercow spoke to ITV News about the investigation into his behaviour, as ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports

John Bercow, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, has denied being a "serial bully" and said the investigation which found him guilty of bullying staff was a "stitch up".

An investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said Mr Bercow's conduct was "so serious" that he would have been expelled from Parliament if he were still an MP.

But the former representative for Buckingham told ITV News the investigation had found "very little" evidence against him and labelled it a "stitch up".

"I am most certainly not a serial bully, I didn't bully anyone", he said, accusing those who made allegations against him of not remembering years old events properly.

Bercow - 'I am not a bully':

Asked if he accepted his reputation was left in tatters by the ruling, Mr Bercow said: "No, I don't accept that at all."

He said he had several staff members who worked with him since he became speaker in 2009 "with whom I enjoyed fantastic relations and all of these complaints relate to the first half of my speakership.

"The truth of the matter is that from 2014 to 19, including one of the most tumultuous periods in British politics, the whole Brexit saga, nothing by way of a complaint has come forward."

"This process stinks," he added, and "to call it a kangaroo court is deeply unfair to kangaroos".

Bercow denies his reputation is in tatters:

Mr Bercow was found by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) sub-panel, chaired by Sir Stephen Irwin, that Parliament's bullying and harassment policy "was breached repeatedly and extensively by the most senior Member of the House of Commons".

It rejected an appeal from Mr Bercow after looking into allegations from three people - Lord Lisvane, the former Commons clerk, Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms.

"His behaviour fell very far below that which the public has a right to expect from any Member of Parliament "The respondent’s conduct was so serious that, had he still been a Member of Parliament, we would have determined that he should be expelled by resolution of the House. As it is, we recommend that he should never be permitted a pass to the Parliamentary estate.”

Mr Bercow was suspended from Labour - he defected to the party from the Tories in 2021 - following the ruling, pending investigation.

Mr Bercow, who resigned as an MP ahead of the 2019 general election, issued a statement denying the allegations and attacking the investigation into his conduct as "amateurish".

The allegations against him, according to his statement, include:

  • Staring hate-filled at someone 11 years ago and the investigator refusing to interview nine witnesses because “they would not remember”. 

  • Getting angry at the original rejection of my preferred Speaker’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, whom I appointed anyway. 

  • Falling asleep on a night flight to Africa and thereby ignoring a member of staff for hours. 

  • Showing irritation at delays in obtaining a licence for civil partnership ceremonies in 2010. 

  • Twice throwing a mobile phone – a claim rejected by the witnesses interviewed. 

  • Brusquely ending a meeting 12 years ago. 

  • Complaining about slow progress on staff diversity and scrapping zero hours contracts eight years ago. 

"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," Mr Bercow said.

"Add to that a dash of personal spite and you have some idea of the vengeful vendetta mounted against me."

He added: “This has been a protracted, amateurish and unjust process which would not have survived five minutes’ scrutiny in court."

Downing Street said it hopes the ruling that Mr Bercow bullied staff will encourage others in Parliament to report bullying.

A No 10 spokesman said: "The prime minister has spoken before about the fact that there is no place for bullying or harassment in Parliament, and MPs should always be held to the highest standards.

"We hope that today's decision gives all those in Westminster the confidence to come forward and report their cases, and that they will be fairly heard."