Excerpt of transcript of the explosive television interview with Stephen Nolan
JONATHAN BELL: Here is the fact that I do know which reveals it. The Deputy Permanent Secretary of my department, Chris Stewart, asked for something that was highly unusual and only done once in the five years that I sat in the Executive, he asked to meet the minister, as he is entitled to do, to whistle-blow on a one to one basis. One to one basis.
STEPHEN NOLAN: What did he say?
BELL: He said the purpose of me being here today and for you not having even your own Special Adviser with you is, minister we have to advise you that without your knowledge the Special Adviser in your department has been asked by the other Special Advisers to remove references to Arlene Foster, the First Minister, and to the Department of Finance and Personnel. I have spoken about this subsequently to the Permanent Secretary who has verified all of this and is prepared if asked to put it formally on the record in an inquiry. I have asked for the changes that were sought to be made, when I said to him how can I see the evidence of what your deputy Permanent Secretary was telling me, he said there is an email trail, I cannot show you the email trail because you are only entitled to see the final email but he said you will see the changes that there were to take out the references to the Office of First Minister the Department of Finance and Personnel. Fact.
NOLAN: Now why would they want to do that?
BELL: That is for them to answer.
NOLAN: Why do you think? You have told me you are going to tell me the truth from your heart today. Why?
BELL: I can tell you the truth from my heart.
NOLAN: Why would they want to do that?
BELL: I cannot tell you what their thinking or motivation was. Personally I was deeply; deeply hurt that as a minister, the supposed number one in that department, the person who the buck stops with that without my knowledge and without my consent this attempt was made. It took a whistle-blower, a person of considerable integrity to brief me as minister that this was happening.