Will a pre-appointment hearing for Carol Mills examine the murky appointment process run by the Speaker?
Investigators will be interested how the Speaker got what he wanted in the appointment of his Chaplain in 2010.
An eye-witness to the events spoke to Guido today and disclosed the following.
A Speaker has no formal role in the selection of the Speaker’s Chaplain, it is a Church appointment with two roles – one in the Commons, the other across the road in the Abbey.
John Bercow insisted that half the short list of six be female. He pre-determined the winning candidate would be female. “A female is going to do that job. It has to be a female,” he is quoted as saying.
Although he had no right, he insisted on speaking to all the candidates himself.
He rang up the selection board and lobbied them.
He continued to operate in the general election period when he had no official standing as an MP.
All the short list ended up male with two perfectly suitable candidates, one clearly superior to the other.
As a result of Bercow’s lobbying, two female candidates were appended to the six.
Rose Hudson-Wilkins was appointed – but because she could not do the full Church of England job, the role was split.
Speaker Bercow signed a certificate blocking an FoI request for the relevant documents. It was a uniquely powerful certificate available only to the Speaker, preventing any challenge being considered by the Information Commissioner.
Similarities to the process selecting Carol Mills as Clerk may include
1) a predetermined decision that the winning candidate be female.
Improper interference with a procedure to produce a personally wished-for outcome.
2) Putting political imperatives before the technical requirements of the job.
3) Fighting tooth and nail against oversight or accountability.
4) Diminishing the role to make its holder more suitable for his own strategic purposes.
5) Risking a sex discrimination action by his actions.
The source also commented on the behaviour and temper of Speaker Bercow during this period, likening him not entirely humorously to Caligula. But that’s for another time.