Tom Watson peerage rejected by Lords vetting commission

Peter Walker Political correspondent
Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images

The commission that vets potential new members of the House of Lords has turned down peerage nominations for the former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, the former Speaker John Bercow and ex-Labour official Karie Murphy, it is understood.

The three were all put forward for peerages by Jeremy Corbyn when, as Labour leader, he was asked for nominations in the honours drawn up for the dissolution of parliament in December, which have yet to be announced.

It is understood that the party has been told all have been turned down by the independent House of Lords appointment commission. As they were put forward by Corbyn, it would be up to him to suggest any replacement peers, rather than the new party leadership.

Downing Street has been publicly sceptical about a peerage for Bercow, who was the subject of a series of bullying claims, which he vehemently denies.

Asked about the blocked peerages, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said he could not confirm them: “We’ve previously said that the allegations against John Bercow were very concerning and that they needed to be investigated thoroughly.

“But all nominations are subject to independent vetting by the House of Lords appointments commission for propriety before their appointment, and we don’t comment in advance on individual nominations.”

Asked about the cases of Watson and Murphy, the spokesman again stressed this was a matter for the commission, but added: “There is no automatic entitlement to a peerage for any holder of high office.”

Some reports had suggested concern about Watson’s peerage because of his role in seeking action over allegations of sexual abuse which included highlighting the claims of Carl Beech, who turned out to be a serial fantasist.

Beech was jailed last year for 18 years after a court found he had fabricated allegations about a murderous VIP paedophile ring in Westminster. Police had raided the homes of the late military chief Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and the former MP Harvey Proctor based on the allegations.

Defenders of Watson have said that it is unfair to blame him for police failings, and that all he did was highlight the issue. Watson stood down as an MP at the last election.

Denying Bercow a peerage would breach the convention that former Speakers are put into the Lords. Bercow has said he is the victim of a “conspiracy” to keep him out of the upper house.