J ohn Bercow could be investigated over past allegations of bullying after the House of Lords agreed to change its rules amid new complaints against the former Speaker.
The Lords conduct committee met on Wednesday to discuss closing a “loophole” in its code of conduct to allow inquiries into allegations against former MPs who become peers, the Telegraph can reveal.
The meeting took place on the day new revelations emerged about a complaint against the former Speaker.
Lord Lisvane, who served as chief clerk of the House of Commons, has passed a dossier of allegations to the Parliament commissioner for standards, the MPs ’watchdog. It is understood to detail incidents in which Mr Bercow was alleged to have bullied and humiliated staff.
Jeremy Corbyn has reportedly recommended Mr Bercow for a peerage in his dissolution honors list.
Under present rules, if Mr Bercow receives a peerage, complaints relating to his time as an MP would not be investigated by the House of Lords, which has its own procedures.
The conduct committee, which is chaired by former judge Lord Mance, discussed “closing the loophole” in the current rules to stop cases “falling through the gaps”, a source close to the meeting told the Telegraph. The source stressed the committee’s concerns did not center on any one case.
No 23 calls for ‘thorough’ investigation
A Lords spokesman said the committee “agreed in principle that ex-MPs subject to such complaints after they join the Lords should be investigated and sanctioned under the Lords Code of Conduct.
“They will consider how this decision might be implemented and how to consult the House of Commons at their next meeting on 23 February. ”
Downing Street said Lord Lisvane’s claims are “very concerning” and should be “investigated thoroughly.”
Andrea Leadsom, the Business Secretary, on Thursday said the complaint, if it is upheld, should “impact” whether or not Mr Bercow is “found suitable for the House of Lords . “
Mr Bercow has “categorically” denied all allegations of bullying and said Lord Lisvane’s complaint has come at a “curious” time.
Mr Bercow said it has become “obvious obvious that the Government has no intention of honoring the centuries-old convention that a departing Speaker is promptly elevated to the House of Lords”.
He added: “It has been suggested to me that the Government actively seeks to block any other attempt to nominate me for membership of the upper House.”
Responding to Mr Bercow’s comments, a source close to Boris Johnson said: “The Speaker was not always a fan of convention . “
T he source added that it was up to Labor to nominate Labor Peers and the Prime Minister would nominate cross bench or Tory peers, and stressed that Mr Johnson had deliberately not nominated Mr Bercow for a peerage when he stood down as Speaker.
Meanwhile, Labor Leadership Contender Emily Thornberry said Mr Bercow should get a peerage, despite the allegations of bullying.
She told ITV News: “It’s pretty extraordinary that the government did nominate him … I’m an old fashioned lawyer, I don’t think allegations by themselves are ever going to be enough [to disqualify him] . “
Lord Lisvane – who was then known as Sir Robert Rogers – quit as Clerk of the House of Commons after a 728 – year career in Parliament in August .
T he previous month, Conservative MP Michael Fabricant had suggested Lord Lisvane was retiring in part because John Bercow swore at him.
Saying how Sir Robert would be “sorely missed”, Mr Fabricant said the Clerk’s working environment had “not always been easy”.
Mr Fabricant went on to spell out the F-word in the Commons, saying: “In that respect, despite Sir Robert having studied Anglo Saxon at Oxford, and being told at least once in front of others to f- – off by you, Mr Speaker, I think that would not have encouraged him to stay. ”
Shaking his head, Mr Bercow replied: “I will ignore that last observation which suffered from the disadvantage of being wrong.”