POLITICS
04/02/2020 18:54 GMT | Updated 05/02/2020 09:28 GMT

John Bercow Brands Bullying Allegations 'Utter Rubbish'

Former Commons speaker hits back at claims from senior parliamentary official David Leakey, who was Black Rod.

Former House of Commons speaker John Bercow has called claims he “brutalised” parliamentary staff and politicians “total and utter rubbish”.

The public figure, who stepped down from the role before the December general election, also called ex-Black Rod David Leakey, who made the accusations last month, “completely and utterly ignorant”.

In an interview with Sky News, Bercow also took aim at business secretary Andrea Leadsom, who was leader of the Commons during his period in the chair, calling her “untrustworthy” and a “poor leader of the House”.

Leakey, who left his role as a parliamentary official in February 2018, has accused Bercow of bullying him in the past and said several highly-ranked parliamentary staff and politicians told him privately they were also bullied. 

But Bercow has called the allegations “total and utter rubbish from start to finish”.

He said: “First point is that David Leakey didn’t work for me, he wasn’t employed by me, he wasn’t employed by the House of Commons.

“He worked in and was protocol officer of the House of Lords. He is in absolutely no position whatsoever to comment on my relations with my parliamentary colleagues, of which he is completely and utterly ignorant.

“He doesn’t know what my relationship was with my clerks. He has absolutely no intelligence on those matters whatsoever.

“What we have here is a person who had left the house, is thrashing about, desperate to remain relevant, popping up at every turn, trying to make himself seem very important, centre stage, at the heart of things in the way I went about my work.”

Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the Commons, submitted a dossier of allegations against Bercow to the Parliamentary Standards Authority just days before Leakey broke his silence.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
John Bercow, left, and former Black Rod David Leakey.

Bercow said he only saw Leakey “three or four times a year over a period of years, mainly in relation to or preparation for ceremonial events.”

He said the two men are “very different people from very different backgrounds with very different mindsets” and admitted they had an argument in 2011 and 2012 but “got along perfectly adequately after 2012″.

“Absurdly, preposterously he’s turning up years later, a couple of years after he left the house, commenting on events he can’t possibly know about because he’d already left,” he added. 

“He said something about my relations with Andrea Leadsom in May 2018, something I allegedly said to her and made her cry - he wouldn’t know, he’d left three months before.

“The guy is a know-nothing, he wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what he’s talking about.

“He was deeply hostile towards me. He’s entitled to his views but on the matter of bullying he suffers from the disadvantage of being 100% wrong. Amen.”

Leakey has previously called for other complainants to come forward and has said that Bercow brought one former leader of the Commons to tears.

It is thought Leakey is reluctant to comment on Bercow’s reaction now a formal complaint has been submitted.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former House of Commons speaker, John Bercow

When asked about his relationship with Leadsom, who was Commons leader from 2017 to 2019, Bercow said she could not be trusted.

“There was no trust between us and I was advised at one point, by a senior person in government, that she was very hostile, that she was looking to ferment trouble for me,” he told Sky News.

“There had been other relationships with colleagues where there was some distrust of her by people and possibly by others. I just thought the prudent thing to do was protect myself.

“In my view, she was a poor leader of the house, she was both driven and weak and it’s quite a bad combination.”

Leadsom told Sky News: “Well, you know, he’s got a book to sell and I don’t want to give him any extra air time. That’s it.”