Former soldier and MP Dan Jarvis dismisses Diane Abbott's suggestion that Army service means alleged Bercow bullying victim could not be targeted

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Former soldier and Yorkshire MP Dan Jarvis has hit out at Labour colleague Diane Abbott after she suggested it was unlikely a former general could have been bullied by John Bercow.

The Shadow Home Secretary came to the defence of the former Speaker, who has been involved in a public row with Lieutenant General David Leakey, who held the post of Black Rod in Parliament.

Barnsley Central MP and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis. Photo: JPI Media

Barnsley Central MP and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis. Photo: JPI Media

Ms Abbott claimed, in a since deleted tweet, Lt Gen Leakey's extensive military service meant it was unlikely he could have been bullied by Mr Bercow.

"He had been a Lieutenant General who served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Bosnia," she said.

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

But Barnsley Central MP and Sheffield City Region Metro Mayor Mr Jarvis, who served in the British Army for 15 years - including in Helmand province in Afghanistan - before entering Parliament, said: “Having a distinguished service record does not preclude you from being a victim of workplace bullying.”

He added: “All of us in the Labour/trade union movement have a responsibility to create a climate where people can voice their concerns and not have their experiences dismissed out of hand.”

Ms Abbott was also branded "ridiculous" by a union boss.

Dave Penman, General Secretary of the FDA union which represents senior civil servants, mocked Ms Abbott's comment and said she had a "complete failure to understand" the abuse of power in the workplace.

"Indeed Diane - faced with an abusive boss, we often advise members to deploy military self-defence tactics," he said.

"What a ridiculous comment from an experienced MP, demonstrating blind political partisanship and a complete failure to understand how power is abused in the workplace."

Lt Gen Leakey, who served as black rod until 2018, stood by his claims that Mr Bercow "brutalised" staff after the former Speaker dismissed them as "total and utter rubbish".