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Coffee House

Exclusive: Tory MP accuses Speaker of misleading House over Clerk row

3 September 2014

6:29 PM

3 September 2014

6:29 PM

This story ran first in tonight’s Evening Blend. Get more scoops, analysis and insight into the day’s political news by signing up for free here.

Speaker Bercow has been accused of misleading the House of Commons over his plan to appoint Carol Mills as Clerk of the House. In a letter to the Speaker, seen first by Coffee House, Conservative MP Michael Fabricant suggests that Bercow may have ‘inadvertently misled the House’ on whether the recruitment firm advising on the appointment of the Clerk was prevented from giving evidence about the suitability of Mills for the job. Today in the Commons, Bercow told Fabricant that he was ‘unfortunately, but fairly predictably’ wrong to say that recruitment consultants Saxton Bampfylde were prevented from telling the panel advising on the appointment that Mills was under two investigations by the Australian Senate. But in his letter, Fabricant writes:

‘Notwithstanding your personal comments about me in the Chamber, on the first question, whether Saxton Bampfylde was prevented by the Panel, following your advice and lead, from giving further evidence regarding the suitability or otherwise of Ms Mills, I have since been told by members of the Panel that this was indeed the case. ‘Saxton Bampfylde did wish to provide further information about Ms Mills, including the fact that she is under two investigations by the Australian Senate, but this offer was rejected. You may now wish to put the record straight.’

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The MP also asks Bercow to clarify whether he or other Commons officials told Saxton Bampfylde to include Mills in the list of candidates that it recommended for appointment. He writes:

‘You will appreciate that the reputation of Saxton Bampfylde is at stake over this issue and it would be morally wrong to use them, or indeed other members of the Panel, as a fig leaf.’

Fabricant then demands that all papers concerning the appointment be placed in the House of Commons Library, adding that ‘only by openness will this matter finally be resolved’. Here is the full letter (click on the image to view a larger version): Bercow letter 1of2 3.9.14 s Bercow letter 2of2 3.9.14 s

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