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News Archives 4961-4980
Number Title Post Date
4961 Drugged Out America 05/09/2011 15:04:47
4962 Presidential Panel Condemns US Syphilis Study in Guatemala 05/09/2011 15:05:49
4963 Narcolepsy link to GSK Swine Flu vaccine established - victims to get compensation 05/09/2011 15:11:25
4964 Pharma Admits Flu Vaccine Destroyed Children's Lives 05/09/2011 15:13:13
4965 Thyroid UK 10th Anniversary Conference, 22nd October 2011 07/09/2011 12:58:53
4966 Bent ATOS Britain and UNUM Insurance, A Country of Second Chances 07/09/2011 13:04:13
4967 Feral Overclass MP Stuart Bell Refuses To Help Constituents 07/09/2011 13:07:37
4968 Feral Overclass MP Margaret Moran Faces 21 Criminal Expenses Charges 07/09/2011 13:09:41
4969 Vaccine Wake Up Call for Parents: Your Children Are Being Taken 07/09/2011 13:11:09
4970 Science and Democracy 07/09/2011 13:12:17
4971 Globaleaks Launches Whistleblowing Framework 07/09/2011 13:15:39
4972 Associated Press review finds no threatened WikiLeaks sources 12/09/2011 13:09:22
4973 Council Of Europe Supports 'Whistleblower' Bradley Manning 12/09/2011 13:12:09
4974 22 September: Breaking the Silence: Anti-War SpeakOut/TweetOut 12/09/2011 13:14:15
4975 UK Green Party calls for the removal of ATOS from benefits assessments 12/09/2011 13:16:45
4976 Tom Watson MP Receives 'Best Internet Politician' Award 12/09/2011 13:18:37
4977 Feral overclass MP Stuart Bell threatens through Schillings lawyers 12/09/2011 13:19:47
4978 George Osborne MP Drug & Prostitution Links - Phone Hacking Scandal 12/09/2011 13:26:38
4979 Corrupt Police Data Abuse 12/09/2011 13:28:11
4980 CIA vaccines scam doctor kept from leaving Pakistan 12/09/2011 13:30:35

[Previous] [Next]

Feral Overclass MP Stuart Bell Refuses To Help Constituents
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Are Teessiders getting enough from Sir Stuart Bell?

Sir Stuart Bell MP (Email:

SIR Stuart Bell, the Middlesbrough MP who has not held a constituency surgery for 14 years, today faces fresh questions over his dedication to voters after a Gazette investigation.

Unlike most MPs, Sir Stuart does not have an office open in the town, and does not hold regular meetings with residents.

He says he meets with members of the public by appointment instead, and says people can reach him at any time by telephone.

To test the claim, the Gazette has been making daily calls to Sir Stuart’s Westminster office and Middlesbrough home over the course of several months.

Despite making a total of 100 calls, no one ever answered.

Sir Stuart is paid an annual salary of £65,738 to serve as the town’s MP, and claimed £82,896 for staffing costs last year. Wife Lady Margaret was paid more than £35,000 to work as his office manager.

But no-one appears to be available to answer the phone.

Sir Stuart, 73, has been the town’s MP since 1983, and has been re-elected six times. He says he stopped holding surgeries after he was physically threatened by a constituent in 1997.

Members of the public tell us that he often does not reply to emails, letters or calls.

The Gazette made a total of 100 calls to Sir Stuart’s two published telephone numbers during weekday office hours between May and July, when Parliament broke up for the summer.

We used a variety of different Middlesbrough landline numbers and mobile phones - to conceal the fact that the calls were coming from this newspaper - and a log was kept of exactly when each call was made.

No one ever answered the phone. All calls rang out to an answering machine.

Yesterday afternoon the Gazette made calls to the published telephone numbers for Tom Blenkinsop, Alex Cunningham, James Wharton and Ian Swales - the four other Teesside MPs - and each was answered by a member of staff at the first attempt.

The four also run open offices in their constituencies which offer help and advice to residents.

Sir Stuart regularly faces criticism from residents who have tried, but failed, to get his help.

Today we speak to one who organised a pre-General Election hustings event last year in which all the candidates - except for Sir Stuart - participated.

Environmental campaigner Robert Tucker organised the session. The Middlesbrough Friends of the Earth coordinator said he made several attempts to contact Sir Stuart before he finally got an answer. The Labour MP declined the invitation.

“I tried to get in touch with Stuart Bell two weeks before the event,” said Mr Tucker. “I emailed, phoned, and popped round to his house and left messages through the letter box.”

Sir Stuart eventually replied by email three days before the April 29 hustings, saying he could not attend as he had important business in his role as a church commissioner. Mr Tucker said it was too late by then to reorganise the event for a different date.

“Had we known earlier that Sir Stuart could not make that date, we would have changed it to fit around him,” he said. “There was no communication.

“I think it’s fair to say we found that extremely surprising.”

The event went ahead anyway at St Barnabas Church in Middlesbrough. Sir Stuart’s place on the panel was taken by local Labour councillor Barry Coppinger.

We have also spoken to another two Teessiders who had trouble getting Sir Stuart’s help. Their stories will appear in tomorrow’s Gazette.

Sir Stuart served as the Second Church Estates Commissioner for 13 years until the Labour Party’s defeat last year. The Gazette contacted the Church of England to ask about appointments on that day, but its press office referred us back to the MP.

We have also looked at Sir Stuart’s record in Parliament to see how his performance compares to other MPs.

He has in the past played an active role in bodies responsible for overseeing the workings of Westminster and the Church of England, and he was knighted in 2004 for services to Parliament.

But his duties at Westminster have been scaled down significantly recently.

He served on the Commons Commission - the unit in charge of administrative duties for Parliament - for 10 years until November last year.

Between June and November 22 last year, he answered 90 written questions from MPs on a range of day-to-day matters covering everything from members’ salaries and pensions, to the price of a pint of Guinness in the House of Commons bar.

Since leaving the commission, he has had a role on the Ecclesiastical Committee, although that is not considered to be a committee of Parliament. All the other Teesside MPs are members of committees - with some on as many as three.

Sir Stuart was the only Teesside MP to refuse to take part in the Gazette’s weekly Question Time column, which offers readers the chance to quiz elected members.

He got in touch by email several weeks after we first wrote to ask him to take part, saying: “Many thanks for your interest in our work, but your scheme is not one which commends itself to me.”

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