Ber­cow peer­age ‘scup­pered’ by fresh claims

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent By Harry Yorke

JOHN BER­COW’S hopes of re­ceiv­ing a peer­age ap­peared to be ex­tin­guished last night af­ter he was re­buked by the Com­mons and ac­cused of us­ing “sex­u­ally and racially in­ap­pro­pri­ate” lan­guage by his for­mer most se­nior of­fi­cial.

Af­ter the for­mer speaker was ad­mon­ished for nam­ing those he is ac­cused of bul­ly­ing in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, The Daily Tele­graph can re­veal he faces fresh claims of of­fen­sive be­hav­iour.

Lord Lis­vane, the for­mer Com­mons clerk, is un­der­stood to have set out de­tails of Mr Ber­cow mak­ing al­leged in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­marks in a com­plaint to the Com­mis­sioner for Stan­dards, Par­lia­ment’s

watch­dog. Lord Lis­vane de­clined to com­ment, but se­nior al­lies con­firmed his com­plaint went be­yond al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment to in­clude ex­am­ples of com­ments made by Mr Ber­cow in his pres­ence.

A spokesman for Mr Ber­cow dis­missed the claims as “unadul­ter­ated rub­bish”, adding: “As speaker [he] made con­stant ef­forts to in­crease di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion. His record as a cham­pion of gen­der, racial and LGBT equal­ity speaks for it­self.”

A se­nior par­lia­men­tary of­fi­cial said he had “no chance” of a peer­age.

Sep­a­rately, the Com­mons last night con­demned the for­mer speaker for nam­ing par­lia­men­tary staff in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy with­out their knowl­edge or con­sent. Two were se­nior of­fi­cials who Mr Ber­cow cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied bul­ly­ing, one of whom has not cho­sen to speak out against him pub­licly.

The state­ment, sanc­tioned by Sir Lind­say Hoyle, Mr Ber­cow’s suc­ces­sor, said his ac­tions were “un­ac­cept­able” and that Par­lia­men­tary au­thor­i­ties “con­demn this be­hav­iour”. Sir Lind­say is be­lieved to be in­censed at Mr Ber­cow’s de­ci­sion to dis­cuss at length one of­fi­cial who is un­der­stood to have been signed off sick af­ter work­ing with him.

Sources said the Speaker’s Coun­sel – Par­lia­ment’s in-house le­gal team – were comb­ing through the book to as­sess if fur­ther ac­tion was re­quired.

Mr Ber­cow’s spokesman de­fended his de­ci­sion to name of­fi­cials, say­ing a “small but highly vocal group” were “seek­ing to blacken his name”. He added: “It would be odd if he did not com­ment on their un­founded al­le­ga­tions and the rea­sons be­hind them. Crit­ics are en­ti­tled to air their views. They are not en­ti­tled to make un­founded al­le­ga­tions and ex­pect Mr Ber­cow to say noth­ing in re­turn.”

John Ber­cow has been ac­cused of us­ing ‘sex­u­ally and racially in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage’ by one of his for­mer of­fi­cials

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