Ex-speaker insists he is a ‘warm, empathetic, principled and passionate person’
John Bercow has said there is nothing for him to apologise for, hours after receiving a lifetime ban from holding a parliamentary pass over a report into his “bullying” behaviour.
The former Commons speaker rebuked the conclusions of a report by Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary standards commissioner – which deals with bullying sanctions – saying they were a “travesty of justice”.
He also said he could not say sorry because he does not “believe in faux apologies”, adding: “I don’t believe in apologising when I don’t think I have anything to apologise for.”
It came after the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said on Tuesday it would uphold Ms Stone’s findings, which concerned allegations against Mr Bercow made by three complainants who served as parliamentary staff between 2009 and 2014.
The panel, chaired by former appeal court judge Sir Stephen Irwin, said Ms Stone’s report was enough to conclude that Mr Bercow “has been a serial bully” and that he was a “serial liar”. It added: “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.”
However, Mr Bercow told Channel 4 News this evening: “I deny the allegations that have been levelled at me in the course of a protracted, unjust, and amateurish process. It’s been a kangaroo court and saying it’s a kangaroo court is extremely insulting to kangaroos.”
He also accused the Commons of “ignoring vast swathes of evidence” throughout his case.
One of his accusers, Lord Lisvane, a former clerk of the Commons, told the same broadcaster that Mr Bercow had showed “hysterical petulance” for his “whining and whinging” in the face of the IEP’s conclusions.
In another interview, Mr Bercow, who was first elected as a Conservative in 1987 before becoming speaker in 2009, insisted he was an “empathetic, principled person”.
“I’m not a nasty piece of work at all, I’m a warm, empathetic, principled and passionate person, who had fantastic, I emphasise fantastic relations, with the vast majority of people with whom I worked and interacted throughout my time in parliament,” he told LBC Radio.
He claimed there were a “sprinkling of people” with whom he clashed with, but insisted: “I absolutely deny that I bullied anybody in any way.”
The IEP had rejected appeals by Mr Bercow over bullying allegations made by Lord Lisvane, as well as private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms.
Lord Lisvane described Mr Bercow as the “worm in the mud” of an otherwise excellent Commons career, saying: “I’ve been through two years and two months of revisiting these horrible experiences, so have the other two.”
Meanwhile, 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, citing issues with stress, anxiety and loss of confidence.
The Labour Party, which Mr Bercow joined last year having previously been a Tory MP, is understood to have suspended his membership pending an internal investigation over the report.
But the former speaker said earlier in a statement that people should not “fall for the establishment spin that I have been banned [from parliament] for life”.
“I can still attend debates with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public,” insisted Mr Bercow, who last represented the constituency of Buckingham.
He added 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 said.