Iain Bell

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Iain Bell is Deputy National Statistician at the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Director General for Population and Public Policy. His responsibilities include the Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme, which will deliver the 2021 Census, provide more population estimates on a routine basis and transform the data collection activities of the ONS.[1]

Iain Bell is an Executive Member (on a rotational basis) of the UK Statistics Authority.[2]

Before ONS

Prior to his role in ONS, Iain Bell was the Chief Data Officer and Head of Profession for statistics in the Department for Education. Bell has been a member of the Government Statistical Service since 1993, his career spanning labour market, government finance, transport, justice, work, pensions and education statistics and specialising in exploiting the power of longitudinal, administrative data alongside surveys to improve decision-making.[3]

Shining a light

On 19 July 2020, the Mail on Sunday reported:

A senior civil servant has caused a storm by claiming that ‘systemic racism’ exists in Britain and endorsing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in an email to hundreds of staff.

Iain Bell, Deputy National Statistician at the Office for National Statistics, said he was learning about ‘my white privilege and how that looks to others’ and expressed regret that a Census question on ethnicity had caused offence.

Elsewhere in his email, he described the vital role of the ONS in ‘shining a light on today’s society’, but added that ‘too often the collection of... statistics is done with only White People in the virtual room’. He signed off his note: ‘Black Lives Matter!’[4]

Touting for testing

Iain Bell "bribing people" to take a COVID-19 test

In August 2020, Iain Bell sent out letters "literally bribing people" to take a COVID-19 test:

How do I take part?

1. Call IQVIA on 0800 085 6807. If you are unable to use the telephone, you can email iqvia.covid19survey@nhs.net

2. Call to register onto the study and a home appointment at your convenience will be confirmed in the next seven days.

3. A study worker will arrive at your home to complete the study.

The information you give us is protected by law and is treated as confidential.

How long will it take?

The first appointment will take 15 to 30 minutes per person.

What happens next?

If you are interested, we would like everyone in the household to repeat this study over either a month or 12 months – but you do not have to do this if you don't want to. If you are interested, this will involve:

  • A visit once a week from a study worker to collect a nose and throat swab. This will happen for 4 weeks in a row, so 5 visits in total.
  • A visit once a month after this for 12 months in a row to collect a nose and throat swab.
  • As a thank you, anyone in your household who takes part will receive a voucher for each visit (£50 for the first visit, £25 for each further visit).

Thank you for your time.

Yours faithfully,

Iain Bell – Director General of the ONS[5]

One of many comments on Twitter:

"Gotta increase the numbers of 'cases' somehow. Otherwise how can they justify drastic measures of control when hospitals are empty and no-one is sick?"[6]

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