John Bercow hints at investigation over bullying claims and admits he's 'sorry' about peerage snub

Telegraph reporters
John Bercow stepped down from the Commons at last year's general election - Stefan Rousseau/PA

John Bercow has provided the greatest hint yet he is being investigated over bullying allegations, as he claimed his "enemies" decided he wasn't a suitable "fit" to receive a peerage.

The former Commons Speaker has repeatedly denied accusations he mistreated parliamentary officials, but accepted he was "periodically irascible" during his tenure.

Outstanding concerns about Mr Bercow's "propriety" were put forward as the reason for Downing Street vetoing his nomination to be elevated to the House of Lords.

Asked, during an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions, whether he was being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Mr Bercow said: "I think it’s better just to reserve the position that it’s a private and confidential matter and in due course people will know what the truth is."

When pressed on whether he had reflected on his past conduct following criticism of his treatment of officials, he said: "oh if you mean did I make mistakes from time to time? Yes did I occasionally lose my rag in the chamber? Was I periodically irascible? Yes of course." 

In response to whether his conduct may have been perceived as bullying, he added: "Well I don’t think that I ever bullied anyone anywhere in any way at any time. But of course no person can be judging his or her own calls.

"What I will say is that I fought for change. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. And I didn’t think it acceptable simply to allow bureaucratic obstacles to put in the way of what I thought was right.”

Mr Bercow also admitted he was "sorry" not to be granted a peerage despite a "long-standing convention" of bestowing the honour to former Speakers.

The former Buckingham MP is the first in more than 200 years to not be nominated for the Lords by the government after stepping down from the Speaker's chair.

He was put forward for a peerage by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as one of three nominations in his dissolution honours list, but the recommendation was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Conceding he made "enemies" during his 10-year reign as Speaker, Mr Bercow admitted he was disappointed not to be elevated to the Lords.

"I am sorry about it. I'm not going to pretend it doesn't matter. There are people who have got grievances and agendas of their own who think I just don't fit."