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Friday, May 1, 1998 Published at 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK


Bell book kept out of Newcastle
image: [ WH Smith will not stock the Mary Bell biography in its Newcastle branches ]
WH Smith will not stock the Mary Bell biography in its Newcastle branches

At least two national bookshop chains will not be displaying the controversial book about child murderer Mary Bell in their Newcastle branches.

Sensitivities about Gitta Sereny's book Cries Unheard are particularly acute in Newcastle, where Ms Bell was convicted of the murder of two young children in the Scotswood area. There is outrage over the revelation last week that Ms Bell had received money from Ms Sereny in return for her co-operation with the writing of the biography.

WH Smith and Waterstones have confirmed that their Newcastle stores will not stock the book. However, both will supply copies if customers order it, and there are no plans for a nationwide ban.

"We should not act as censors," a WH Smith spokeswoman said.

She said the decision not to have the book on display in Newcastle was taken because "the majority of customers in the area would not want it to be there. It is an issue of sensitivity."

[ image: Dillons will wait for the book before making a decision]
Dillons will wait for the book before making a decision
Dillons has decided to judge the book on its merits.

"We will be waiting until the book arrives in the store and then we will make a decision after looking at its content," a Dillons spokesman said.

Publisher offers to meet minister

Meanwhile Macmillan, publisher of Cries Unheard, has offered to meet a Home Office minister who expressed concern over the money received by Ms Bell from Ms Sereny. Minister Joyce Quin wrote to the firm in her capacity as MP for Gateshead East and Washington West, and is understood to have asked Macmillan to reconsider its decision to publish the book.

A Home Office spokesman said Macmillan had offered to meet Ms Quin after her return from a trip to Hungary.

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