MP for Buckingham John Bercow under fire after harassment and bullying report criticises senior Westminster management

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A Government report into bullying and harassment in the House of Commons has criticised senior management - which includes Speaker of the House of Commons and Buckingham MP John Bercow.

Dame Laura Cox compiled the report following a number of allegations involving MPs and Commons leaders - including Mr Bercow. In his role as Speaker Mr Bercow is responsible for the safety of MPs and staff.

This newspaper has previously reported that Mr Bercow was accused of bullying two previous members of his staff.

Dame Laura’s report, which recommended that historic cases of bullying and harassment were investigated, said: “ The inescapable conclusion from the views expressed during this inquiry is that it will be extremely difficult to build confidence that there will be fundamental change when the levers of change are regarded as part of the change that is needed.”

The report also read: “The unhappy fact is that the overwhelming majority of contributions, from staff working across the House, reveal widespread, enduring and profound disaffection with a culture that is as embedded as it is shocking.

“They indicate that bullying, harassment and sexual harassment of members of staff, both by other members of staff and by some MPs, has been known about and tolerated for far too long, despite efforts by some, including recognised trade unions, to persuade the senior administration to take it seriously.

“Rather than professional, collaborative relationships of mutual respect and an open and supportive atmosphere, such misconduct has been able to thrive over many years, and to become entrenched as part of an excessively hierarchical, ‘command and control’ and deferential culture, which has no place in any organisation in the 21st

century.”
A Parliamentary statement read: “Dame Laura Cox’s report makes difficult reading for all of us. Bullying and harassment have no place in the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Digital Service. We fully accept the need for change and, as a leadership team, are determined to learn lessons from the report. We apologise for past failings and are committed to changing our culture for the better.

“As Dame Laura recognises, this will not be achieved overnight. We have already begun the process. There was an additional meeting of the Commons Executive Board earlier today and the House of Commons Commission will meet on Monday 22 October specifically to consider the report’s findings and identify next steps.

“We are grateful to Dame Laura and to everyone who contributed to the Inquiry. This report will help ensure that positive change takes place.”

More to come - this newspaper has contacted the office of John Bercow MP and is awaiting a response.