Former British MP claims new Lord Speaker 'gave him the belt' when he was a schoolboy

Lord McFall denies Jim Murphy's story from the days when corporal punishment was legal

Jim Murphy (L) and John McFall. Getty Images/Alamy
Jim Murphy (L) and John McFall. Getty Images/Alamy

A former British MP claimed the new speaker of the House of Lords used to give him the belt as a schoolteacher in the 1970s.

John McFall, who denies Jim Murphy’s accusation, was named Lord Speaker last month and took part in the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday.

Watching the proceedings, former Labour MP Mr Murphy recalled how he had been reunited with Mr McFall in Parliament when his former teacher had the title of whip.

“Great to see John McFall as Lord Speaker in the midst of all the pomp today,” Mr Murphy said. “In the '70s he was my schoolteacher and 'gave me the belt'.

“I never thought I'd ever see him again but years later when I arrived in Parliament in '97 as a new MP he was my whip.”

Corporal punishment was legal in British state schools until 1986.

Asked for a response, the Lord Speaker’s office referred to comments made to aides in which he insisted he never belted his former pupil.

Mr McFall lamented, Politico reported, that whatever disciplinary action he did take “probably did no good”.

Mr Murphy was a pupil at what was then known as Bellarmine Secondary School in Glasgow, Scotland, where Mr McFall was a teacher.

Mr McFall became a Labour MP in 1987 and was a party whip when Mr Murphy was elected to the House of Commons in 1997.

The former teacher moved to the Lords in 2010 as Lord McFall of Alcluith.

He became a deputy speaker in 2016 and took office as the new Lord Speaker on May 1.

Mr Murphy became the leader of Scottish Labour in 2014 but lost his seat at Westminster the following year.

Updated: May 12, 2021 05:17 PM


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