John Bercow rebuked by Commons after naming staff without permission in book
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John Bercow rebuked by Commons after naming staff without permission in book

A spokesman for the House said it was 'unacceptable' for the ex-speaker to identify current and former members of staff for 'the purpose of financial gain or commercial success'

John Bercow. 

(Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
John Bercow. (Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Former speaker John Bercow has been rebuked by the House of Commons authorities for naming members of staff without their permission in his newly-published autobiography.

A spokesman for the House said it was “unacceptable” for Mr Bercow to identify current and former members of staff for “the purpose of financial gain or commercial success”.

In a statement, the spokesman said: “House of Commons staff work incredibly hard to enable the effective functioning of our democracy and have a right to expect that their privacy be respected.

“It is unacceptable to publicly name current or former staff without their prior knowledge or authority, especially for the purpose of financial gain or commercial success.

“A crucial element of the work of House of Commons staff is to provide confidential, impartial advice to MPs.

“Breaking this confidentiality undermines this important principle and also places staff in a position from which they are unable to respond.”

A spokesman for Mr Bercow defended his decision to name the staff members.

“Given there is a small but highly vocal group of people consistently seeking to blacken his name, it would be odd if Mr Bercow did not comment on their unfounded allegations and the reasons behind them,” they said.

“He was advised by Speaker’s Counsel not to do so in detail while he was in office. He is therefore doing so now.

“If the book had not addressed these issues, he would rightly have been accused of serious omission.

“Critics are entitled to air their views. What they are not entitled to do is to make unfounded allegations and expect Mr Bercow to say nothing in return.”

The former Speaker is currently facing fresh allegations of bullying by the former clerk of the House, Lord Lisvane, and the former black rod – the senior official in the House of Lords – Lieutenant General David Leakey.

Mr Bercow has strongly denied the allegations against him.

The statement is a further setback for the former speaker in his campaign to secure a peerage after stepping down last year.

He has made plain his unhappiness that he was not automatically given a seat in the Lords, as had been the normal practice when speakers retire.

He has since been nominated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after the Government declined to do so, amid claims they remain angry at the role he played in the Brexit debates.

Ministers have however said no one should be given a peerage while they face outstanding allegations of bullying and abuse.

In the Commons statement, the spokesman said: “Parliament’s behaviour code makes clear the standards of behaviour expected of everyone in Parliament, whether staff, members of the House of Lords, MPs or visitors. There is zero tolerance for abuse or harassment.

“We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced bullying or harassment in Parliament to submit a complaint via the independent complaints and grievance scheme.

“In addition, all current and former staff can access the employee assistance programme for emotional support.”

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