9 September 2011

To: Editors and Legal Departments We act for Sir Stuart Bell MP, the Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough. We write in relation to various reports concerning our client which have recently appeared in the media. The allegations that have been levelled against our client in a number of these reports include the following: 1. That he has not held surgeries for his constituents for 14 years 2. That when reporters posing as constituents made 100 phone calls to his offices their calls and messages went unanswered 3. That he lives in France (“the Allegations”) We are instructed that the Allegations are untrue and therefore publication of them is potentially actionable in libel. The Allegations are extremely serious and are very damaging to our client’s career in public office. Our instructions are that the correct position is as follows: 1. Our client meets regularly with his constituents by appointment 2. Our client has no record of any such calls or messages. This is surprising given that his private office is run by three full-time members of staff and the fact that the House of Commons switchboard is open 24 hours a day all year round. 3. Our client does not live in France. He does not even own or rent a property there. He has lived in Middlesbrough since November 1981. Whilst we trust that now you are on notice of the true position you will not publish these false and damaging allegations or any similar allegations, we must reserve all our client’s legal rights. If you are currently publishing such allegations on your website these should be removed promptly and notification provided to us. Failure to do so will seriously aggravate the damage being caused to our client by publication of these false allegations. We intend to write

separately to a number of publishers in respect of the articles they have published. All of our client’s rights are reserved.

Issued by: Schillings, 41 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3HX Tel: 020 7034 9000 Fax: 020 7034 9200 For further information please contact the following lawyers with conduct: Gideon Benaim Partner, Schillings gideon.benaim@schillings.co.uk Samantha Domin Solicitor, Schillings samantha.domin@schillings.co.uk

We refer to the above Legal Notice. Our client’s position has been made clear and all rights are reserved in that regard. We enclose an on the record statement by our client in relation to the Allegations and this is attached. The attached statement is for broadcast/publication should you choose to report the Allegations that have been made against our client, notwithstanding the issues we have raised. In those circumstances you should publish/broadcast our client’s statement in full. The provision of such statement should in no way be interpreted as consent to any defamatory or otherwise unlawful allegations about our client being broadcast/published.


ON THE RECORD Sir Stuart Bell MP said: ‘I have represented Middlesbrough for the last twenty-eight years, having been elected seven times. My wife and I live in the heart of the town and in general I spend at least three days a week in the constituency. All constituent matters are dealt with by myself with the support of three full-time staff. To my knowledge, there is no record of one hundred phone calls made as alleged with not a single message left, either to the House of Commons, or to my constituency office, or to my Westminster office. I have no residence in France. I returned home from France in 1976 to take up a career in politics. No member of my family has a residence in France and our only owned property is in Middlesbrough. We rent an apartment in London and have done so for the last twenty-five years. I intend to fulfil my mandate and serve out my five-year term of office fully involved in constituency, national and international affairs. I am heavily engaged in seeking to reduce the impact of government cuts on Middlesbrough and upon the welfare state generally, namely reductions in the National Health Service, and to police and fire protection. Middlesbrough is seeking to achieve city status and these entirely false allegations serve to distract from that aim. City status will allow us to build upon the new enterprise zone which was introduced on Teesside by the coalition government following a successful campaign by local politicians.’