Ex-minister brands response to Bercow bullying claims ‘unsatisfactory’

John Bercow faces fresh pressure as former minister condemns ‘unsatisfactory’ response to bullying claims and demands Commons probe

  • Mr Bercow is accused of angry outbursts, foul-mouthed tirades and mimicry 
  • The Speaker has flatly denied allegations that his behaviour was inappropriate
  • Tory MP criticises ‘unsatisfactory’ Commons response to claims ex-aide gagged

John Bercow is under fresh pressure today after a former minister branded the handling of bullying allegations ‘unsatisfactory’.

Maria Miller said the response to allegations raised by a former senior aide to the Speaker had been ‘unsatisfactory’.

She has written to the Clerk of the House, David Natzler, urging him to investigate whether Andrew Sinclair had been ‘gagged’ as part of an £86,000 early retirement payoff. 

Mr Bercow is facing growing disquiet over claims that he bullied former staff – which he flatly denies.

John Bercow (pictured in the Commons last week) has been facing increasing pressure to stand down as Speaker amid allegations about bullying of staff – which he denies

Former Black Rod David Leakey (pictured left with Mr Bercow last year) has said staff were ‘terrified’ of the Speaker

Andrew Sinclair (pictured left) has said he was the victim of angry outbursts, foul- mouthed tirades and mimicry

Mr Sinclair, who left his post as Speaker’s Secretary in 2010 after receiving a payment of £86,250, has said he was the victim of angry outbursts, foul- mouthed tirades and mimicry.

Former Black Rod David Leakey, who retired last year, has said staff were ‘terrified’ of the Speaker.

Former judge Dame Laura Cox QC is conducting a wider inquiry into the issue of bullying at Westminster. 

But its remit does not extend to looking at specific cases, including allegations against Mr Bercow.

Mr Bercow has been reported to the parliamentary standards watchdog over the claims, but an investigation has yet to be launched. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who made the referral, has said he should quit. 

Last week, the House authorities dismissed the idea that Mr Sinclair had been gagged as part of his exit package.

But Mrs Miller, a former Culture Secretary, said today that she felt the response to allegations raised by Mr Sinclair had been ‘unsatisfactory’.

‘I am concerned that these serious allegations include the idea that he was silenced,’ she told MailOnline.

‘The House of Commons is denying that, but they are not appearing to investigate.’

Mrs Miller said the specific accusations about the Speaker’s conduct were for the standards commissioner to investigate.  

Several MPs have broken cover to urge the Speaker to be more ‘open’ about his response to the allegations. 

Mrs Miller, a former Culture Secretary, said today that she felt the response to allegations raised by Mr Sinclair had been ‘unsatisfactory’

Paul Scully, a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, said MPs are sometimes frustrated by the ‘inconsistency’ of the Speaker’s manner.

He said Mr Bercow was facing ‘serious allegations’ and should be up front about that rather than trying to close them down.

Mr Scully told the BBC’s Westminster Hour on Sunday: ‘There are some days he could probably be taking the medicine that he prescribes backbenchers every other PMQs [Prime Minister’s Questions] himself.

‘So I think he really needs to be aware of what people are thinking and be open.

‘These are serious allegations and I think rather than necessarily just trying to close them down, be open, be up front and say OK, fine, investigate and see what you find.’

Mr Scully added that the independent inquiry into bullying in the Commons should be open to looking specifically at claims against Mr Bercow.

His comments came after Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said Westminster’s bullying culture ‘arguably begins at the top’.

She said on Sunday that the scandal surrounding the Speaker’s alleged treatment of his staff had left a ‘cloud hanging over Parliament’.

When Mr Bercow stood for election as Speaker on June 22, 2009 he vowed to serve no more than nine years in the post – and calls are growing for him to honour that as the June 22 deadline nears. 

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