POLITICS
24/10/2018 18:25 BST

John Bercow Could Face Investigation Over Historic Bullying Allegations

Parliamentary committee accepts recommendations of High Court judge.

PA Wire/PA Images

House of Commons authorities have accepted the recommendations of a report on bullying and harassment in Westminster as the “first step in our root and branch reform” of the culture in Parliament.

The move by the House of Commons Commission means Speaker John Bercow faces the prospect of having bullying allegations made against him investigated under new complaints rules agreed on Wednesday.

The report by High Court judge Dame Laura Cox said historic allegations of bullying should be allowed to be investigated.

MPs will also be stripped of a role in determining allegations about colleagues.

Commons Speaker John Bercow said: “I’m delighted that every member of the Commission has decided to support fully the three main recommendations from Dame Laura Cox’s report, which I believe are an important first step in our root and branch reform of the culture of this House.

“We are very grateful for the testimonies of our colleagues, and also for the many representations we have received, from trade unions and workplace equality groups, to past and present members of staff. We value their advice and we look forward to working with all parties to help us form our future policies.

“Specifically, I am very keen to see the establishment of an independent body to hear and adjudicate on all allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct as soon as possible.”

Bercow has come under pressure to resign as Speaker following claims – which he denies – that he bullied two former officials.

One former Commons staffer also told HuffPost UK the Speaker called her a “little girl” because he was unable to find an envelope he was looking for. 

A spokesperson for Bercow said the Speaker had “absolutely no recollection” of the alleged incident.

Tory former minister Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, told Bercow to his face in the chamber that he should quit.

“The report is clear that there needs to be a complete change in leadership at the most senior level, including you, Mr Speaker, as chief officer, if we are, in Dame Laura’s words, to press the reset button,” she said.

Yesterday three Tory MPs quit a Commons committee on representation and inclusion, set up by Bercow, in protest at his position. 

Cox’s report found that a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” had allowed the mistreatment of staff in the Commons to thrive.

Theresa May told MPs today during PMQs that it was “very important that anybody in any workplace is treated—and feels that they are being treated—with respect and dignity”.