‘Serial bully’ and ‘liar’ John Bercow insists he has nothing to apologise for

The former Commons Speaker refused to make any ‘faux apologies’ despite a damning report by Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel.

08 March 2022

Former Commons speaker John Bercow has refused to apologise despite receiving a life-time ban from holding a parliamentary pass after being found to be a “serial bully” and a liar.

An independent inquiry said on Tuesday that he would have been expelled from the House if he was still a sitting MP after upholding 21 separate allegations.

Mr Bercow described the investigation as a “travesty of justice” before refusing to make any “faux apologies”, insisting he has nothing to say sorry for.

It was understood Labour, which Mr Bercow joined last year having previously been a Tory MP, has suspended his membership pending further investigation.

Mr Bercow had appealed against the findings by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone to the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which determines bullying sanctions.

But the experts upheld her verdicts on the allegations from three complainants, who were staff during the period 2009 to 2014, without exception.

The panel, chaired by former appeal court judge Sir Stephen Irwin, 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.”

In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Bercow disputed the findings and insisted there is no reason to apologise.

“I don’t believe in faux apologies, I don’t believe in apologising when I don’t think I have anything to apologise for,” he said.

In the interview ahead of Labour’s move to suspend him, Mr Bercow spoke of being “proud” to be among the party’s membership.

The former MP, first elected as a Conservative in 1987 before becoming speaker in 2009, said in a statement people should not “fall for the Establishment spin that I have been banned for life”.

“I can still attend debates with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public,” warned Mr Bercow, who last represented the constituency of Buckingham.

The former speaker said the case against him “would have been thrown out by any court in the land”, as he claimed it was “based on the flimsiest of evidence” and “rooted in hearsay and baseless rumour”.

“It is a travesty of justice and brings shame on the House of Commons,” he added.

The claims were brought about by Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the Commons, and private secretaries Kate Emms and Angus Sinclair.

Ms Emms said she was “supremely glad to be vindicated by the report”.

“The impacts of the one and only genuinely horrible, undermining and consistently upsetting period of my career has spread into all areas of my life,” she said in a statement.

“Stress, anxiety and loss of confidence sent me home on sick leave and affected how I saw myself and how I felt I was seen by family, friends and colleagues.”

Ms Emms said the report concluded a “saga” involving “an intense period of bullying inflicted a long time ago” and “10 years of professional and personal rehabilitation”.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union – which represents civil servants, welcomed the report.

He added: “I would like to commend the courage shown by Kate Emms and her colleagues for speaking out and pursuing their complaints in incredibly difficult circumstances.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to comment on the report, saying it was “a matter for the parliamentary authorities”.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.