Former Black Rod David Leakey has “reluctantly” lodged a detailed complaint with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards against former Commons Speaker John Bercow, as he found fault with the latter’s manner and conduct while at Westminster.
The move, which Lieutenant General Leakey recounted in a piece for The Sunday Times, is an attempt to effectively block Bercow from receiving a peerage in the House of Lords, with the potential title having drawn controversy the very moment such a possibility was first reported.
Leakey said the ex-Speaker was a "Jekyll and Hyde character" that caused many to feel “terrified” with “intimidation and unacceptable behaviour” on Bercow’s part.
In the complaint, he expressed his own, first-hand impression of the former Speaker’s “volatile rages, foul language, and personal insults".
He went on to recount one particular instance:
"On one occasion, for example, in the presence of other people, he suddenly erupted in a rage, banging the table, and became extremely and personally insulting to me about my education, previous army career and social background, including calling me an anti-Semite - falsely implying I was prejudiced against his Jewish family background", Leakey recalled.
Although he admitted his career in the army had apparently made him immune to such tantrums, he sympathises with parliament staffers who were deeply “appalled".
Leakey also took a swipe at the “macho bullying culture" "prominent" in Westminster, adding two more former employees were considering speaking out.
He expressed hope that his note of protest would prompt others to “come forward to file their own complaints, finally safe in the knowledge that the new independent complaints procedure will enable their concerns to be heard and assessed".
The motion closely follows a complaint by ex-Clerk of the House Lord Lisvane, who said Bercow would typically humiliate staff using swear words. The former Speaker responded to Lord Lisvane, “categorically” denying all accusations of bullying.
"I have seen in the media that Lord Lisvane is formally complaining that I bullied staff. For the record, I categorically deny that I have ever bullied anyone, anywhere at any time", he said dismissing the complaint as one coming “at a curious time".
The allegations of Bercow intimidating his former colleagues are preceded by accusations by two former private secretaries from 2018.
Mr Bercow was tapped for a peerage by Jeremy Corbyn after becoming the first Speaker in 230 years not to receive a nomination on stepping down.
When the decision was first reported, it provoked mixed reactions online, with many accusing Corbyn of hypocrisy.
They instantly recalled him having been earlier critical of the “establishment", and his party members rooting for the House of Lords being scrapped.