Speaker John Bercow among MPs accused of bullying House of Commons clerks

Written by Emilio Casalicchio on 9 March 2018 in News

An investigation by Newsnight has uncovered complaints that MPs bullied members of parliamentary staff

John Bercow - Image credit: PA Images

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow is among a number of MPs accused of bullying parliamentary staff, it has emerged.

The Buckinghamshire MP is alleged to have shouted at and undermined his former private secretary Kate Emms – eventually leading to her being signed off sick.

Other MPs including Conservative MP Mark Pritchard and Labour MP Paul Farrelly have also been accused of bullying parliamentary clerks, it was revealed as part of an investigation by BBC Newsnight.

Bercow has been a vocal supporter of better protections for parliamentary staff and has repeatedly called on parties to do more to crack down on harassment and bullying.

Emms, who began working for him in May 2010, was reportedly signed off work in February 2011 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Colleagues said Bercow shouted at her “a lot”.

She was later appointed to a different role in the Commons that would allow her to avoid the Speaker.

A spokesperson for Bercow told the BBC: “The Speaker completely and utterly rejects the allegation that he had behaved in such a manner, either eight years ago or at any other time.

“Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.”

Newsnight said other MPs are alleged by dozens of female workers to have slapped, groped and kissed female staff against their will.

Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson told Newsnight the claims raised “very significant questions” about the House of Commons’ Respect policy.

Swinson, who is a member of a cross-party working group on an independent complaints and grievance policy, said Parliament "doesn't have modern and professional standards” and that many MPs see themselves as “above other members of staff”.

A Commons spokesperson said: “The House of Commons takes pride in being a responsible and supportive employer, and does not tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind.”

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