Former Speaker of the UK House of Commons John Bercow was called a ‘serial liar’ in an official report on Tuesday confirming bullying allegations against him and recommending that he be denied a parliamentary pass for life.
Bercow, 59, gained an international reputation for his theatrical interventions and disguises as MPs as he presided over the often heated Brexit debates.
He resigned in 2019 following accusations that he fostered a culture of intimidation and harassment in parliament.
On Tuesday, parliament’s sanctions committee upheld an earlier decision by the legislature’s standards commissioner, finding Bercow had exhibited “threatening conduct” including verbal abuse and displays of anger.
“The respondent was a serial bully. Like many bullies, he had those he favored and those he victimized. All three of these complainants were victims,” the report states, the accusing him of being a “serial liar” in the investigation.
“The respondent’s conduct was so serious that, had he still been an MP, we would have decided that he should be expelled.
“As things stand, we recommend that he never be allowed access to the parliamentary domain.”
In response, Bercow, the longest-serving Commons speaker since World War II, denounced the initial report as “amateurish” that would not go to court.
“It’s a travesty of justice and shames the House of Commons…
“To describe what I experienced as a kangaroo court is grossly insulting to kangaroos.
“It is based on the flimsiest of evidence, rooted in hearsay and baseless rumour, and advanced by old-school dogmatists…settling old scores with me.”
– Reformer –
Despite having had his pass withdrawn, the former Tory MP can still enter Parliament as a guest or as a member of the public.
During his 12 years as a senior official in Britain’s elected lower house, Bercow was no stranger to controversy.
His campaign against then-US President Donald Trump and a perceived bias in his role in the Brexit debates has annoyed many within his own party.
The speaker wields enormous power to choose which MPs speak on what topics and when, and Bercow has proudly promoted the right of backbench MPs to hold ministers to account through debates and questions of urgency.
Bercow riled Eurosceptics by selecting amendments for debate that challenged the government’s strategy to leave the European Union.
He was criticized for a sticker on his car saying ‘Bollocks to Brexit’.
The youngest to hold the post for 100 years, he ditched traditional robes in favor of a simple dress worn over a suit and tie, and allowed MPs to remove their ties.
But he was involved in the controversy from the start, when he demanded thousands of pounds (dollars, euros) to renovate his rent-free company apartment, in part to accommodate his three children.
His wife Sally also made headlines. In 2011, she posed for a newspaper wearing only a bed sheet and also appeared on a reality TV show.
The Independent Panel’s report said it was “for historians to judge” whether Bercow was “a successful reforming speaker in the House of Commons”, as he claims.
“However, it was not necessary to act like a bully to achieve this goal. A large office can be filled with strength and efficiency without falling into such behavior,” he added.