John Bercow blew the whistle on a group of female MPs who used the House of Commons chamber for a game of keepy-uppy.
The five MPs, from different parties, were celebrating having formed a women’s lobby football team and even posed for photos in their football strips in the Speaker’s chair.
Bercow was said to have been incensed by the apparent intrusion, telling MPs the next day “our historic chamber should not be used for this type of activity”.
The MPs were unable to play their first match with Crawley Old Girls because they had to be in Parliament to vote.
Instead, they marked the occasion at the despatch boxes and later put their ball at the foot of the Commons’ famous statue of Margaret Thatcher.
Bercow said a Commons doorkeeper had questioned the women but was told by Labour MP Steph Peacock they had secured permission.
“Let me assure the House that permission certainly did not come from me,” Bercow told MPs.
Three of the MPs – Labour’s Lou Haigh and Steph Peacock and former sports minister Tracey Crouch – penned “gracious indeed fulsome letters of apology” to the Speaker, he said.
Labour MP Alison McGovern and the SNP’s Hannah Bardell, who posted a video of herself having a kick-about, have so far not apologised.
Bardell has said she has no plans to either, telling the Daily Record: “This was a bit of fun on cross-party basis and the women’s parliament team cut through some of the divisions through sport and football. It’s 1-0 to Commons sense and fun.”
The team have secured sponsorship and are setting up matches with other teams across the UK.
Bercow had said: “It has been brought to my attention that some football skills were displayed in the chamber yesterday evening after the House rose.
“I’m informed that the doorkeeper on duty told the members concerned that the Chamber was not the place for this activity.
“However, those doorkeepers were advised that permission had been given, let me assure the House that permission certainly did not come from me.
He later added: “I have said what I have said. There are no hard feelings and I consider the matter to be closed.”
Journalists, MPs’ staff and members are able to join the team.
“Football has long been the domain of men but it’s a sport that women and girls enjoy and excel at the world over,” Bardell said.
“It’s therefore really important we reflect that across MPs, staff and journalists and give them the same opportunity to network and enjoy the sport.”