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Independent Expert Panel reprimands former Speaker John Bercow for being a “serial bully”

8 March 2022 (updated on 8 March 2022)

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The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) has today published a report reprimanding John Bercow, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, for breaching Parliament’s bullying and harassment policy. 

The IEP decided that his conduct was so serious that he should never be allowed a pass to the Parliamentary estate; and that if he were still a MP it would have recommended expelling him from the House.

The IEP sub-panel chaired by Sir Stephen Irwin found that:

“The ICGS Bullying and Harassment Policy was breached repeatedly and extensively by the most senior Member of the House of Commons. In all, 21 separate allegations were proved and have been upheld. The House may feel that his conduct brought the high office of Speaker into disrepute.

“This was behaviour which had no place in any workplace. Members of staff in the House should not be expected to have to tolerate it as part of everyday life.”

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld 21 allegations against Mr Bercow from three complainants, all House staff at the time, relating to 2009 to 2014. The complainants have agreed to being named in the report.

The IEP dismissed Mr Bercow’s appeals against those decisions, concluding in one case that:

“the respondent [Mr Bercow] has been widely unreliable and repeatedly dishonest in his evidence. He has attempted to defeat these complaints by false accusations of collusion and by advancing lies.” 

Its decision on sanction said:

“The findings of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, which we have upheld, show that the respondent has been a serial bully […]

His evidence in the investigations, the findings of the Commissioner, and his submissions to us, show also that the respondent has been a serial liar.

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.”

The sub-panel’s full decision on Mr Bercow’s appeals is included in the report to explain why his “complaints about the fairness of the process are groundless”.