Diane Abbott in London

Diane Abbott Criticised For Saying Bullying Of Ex-General 'Unlikely'

The Shadow Home Secretary suggested it was unlikely a former general could have been bullied by John Bercow.

Diane Abbott in London

The Shadow Home Secretary has been criticised for suggesting it was "unlikely" a former British military general could have been bullied by former Commons speaker John Bercow.

Diane Abbott came to the defence of the former speaker, who has been involved in a public row with Lieutenant General David Leakey.

Lt Gen David Leakey, who held the post of Black Rod in Parliament until 2018, submitted a formal complaint against Mr Bercow, highlighting "bullying behaviour towards a number of parliamentary staff, including myself, over a period of years".

Mr Bercow has strenuously denied the claims made against him.

On Tuesday morning, in a Twitter post that has since deleted, Ms Abbott said: "He had been a Lieutenant General who served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

"But claims he was bullied (i.e. intimidated and coerced) by John Bercow. Unlikely."

The Labour MP's response was mocked by Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA Union which represents senior civil servants, who said Ms Abbott demonstrated a "complete failure to understand" how power can be abused in the workplace.

Labour MP Dan Jarvis, a Parachute Regiment veteran, said a "distinguished service record" is not something which would "preclude you" from becoming a victim of bullying in the workplace.

His comments were echoed by a spokesman for the military charity Help For Heroes who said: "While our servicemen and servicewomen perform heroic acts to keep us safe, this doesn't make them superhuman.

"The idea that veterans are immune from bullying is a damaging misconception about many who may have endured more than most."

A spokesman for Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "If Diane deleted her tweet I think that probably indicates that she had concerns that it might be misinterpreted and so she probably thought better of it."

Cover image: PA.