Bob Russell (British politician)

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Sir Bob Russell
File:Bob Russell MP at Bournemouth.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Colchester
In office
1 May 1997 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Will Quince
Majority 6,982 (15.1%)
Personal details
Born (1946-03-31) 31 March 1946 (age 74)
London, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat (1988–present)
Other political
Labour (1971–1981)
SDP (1981–1988)
Religion Non-conformist Protestant

Sir Robert Edward "Bob" Russell (born 31 March 1946) is a former Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom who was the Member of Parliament for Colchester from 1997 to 2015. He was first elected at the United Kingdom general election, 1997 and won subsequent re-election in 2001, 2005 and 2010; he was defeated in United Kingdom general election, 2015 by the Conservative Party candidate and current Colchester MP Will Quince.

He was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for public service.[1] He currently holds the ceremonial position of High Steward of Colchester.


Prior to his election to the House of Commons, Russell was a councillor representing New Town ward continuously from 1978 to 2002. He initially won election as a Labour Party candidate before defecting to the Social Democratic Party in 1981, and standing as a Liberal Democrat candidate from 1988 onwards. He held a dual mandate of minister of parliament and councillor from 1997 to 2002.

He was leader of Colchester Borough Council[when?] until 1991,[citation needed] having previously served as Mayor of Colchester for the year 1986–87.

Prior to standing as parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats, Russell stood unsuccessfully for Parliament for Colchester in 1979 as a Labour candidate.[citation needed]

Russell was the Liberal Democrats' spokesman on Culture, Media and Sport from 2002 to 2005, when he was replaced by Don Foster. He was a member of the Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence team until the formation of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government on 11 May 2010, at which point he became a backbencher.[2]

At the general election in 2010 Russell had a majority of 6,982 votes (15.1%).[3]

In 2011 Russell was a member of the special Select Committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that became the Armed Forces Act 2011.[4]

During his time in parliament, Russell was also a member of the Beveridge Group, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group and sat on the Defence Select Committee.[5]

Following his defeat at the 2015 general election, he was appointed the High Steward of Colchester (also known as High Sheriff of Colchester), a position he currently holds.


Russell is known for supporting unusual causes, such as petitioning the House of Commons for the return of Young's bitter to the Strangers' Bar.[6]

Russell has spoken out against celebrity tax exiles, including Lewis Hamilton.[7]

Russell is a supporter of Votes at 16.


In December 2010 a reply he wrote to a letter from a constituent concerned about the cost of the coming Royal Wedding was published in the press. In it Russell told his constituent to "get a life and stop whinging".[8] In 2011 he followed this up with another contentious letter to a constituent. Referring to him as a "rubbish man", Russell accused those in support of the Visual Arts Facility (later becoming Firstsite) as "expecting the council to fund their social life".[9]


In 2012, Russell was found to have broken parliamentary expenses rules after claiming more than £70,000 over seven years for an office owned by a company in which he was a major shareholder. He was found to have acted in good faith, but was found to be in "clear breach" of the rules.[10] Russell apologised, stating: "I have not personally made a financial gain from the arrangements. Rather I have made a significant personal contribution to provide an office which is fit for purpose at no additional cost to the public purse." He added: "The fact that no further action is to be taken indicates that my breach was a technical one."

Other interests

Russell is a former season ticket holder for Colchester United football club, and wrote the foreword for the latest history of the club.[11]


  1. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60009. p. 1. 31 December 2011.
  2. Porter, Andrew (28 October 2010). "Housing benefit cuts to stay, says David Cameron". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 31 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Colchester constituency result". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill". Retrieved 20 Sep 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Register of All-Party Groups". UK Parliament. 9 July 2009. Archived from the original on July 15, 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Bob Russell (30 November 2005). "EDM 1169/2005: Return of Young's bitter to Strangers' Bar". UK Parliament. Retrieved 10 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Graeme Wilson (5 November 2008). "Tessa's £10,000 Lewis race trip". The Sun. London. Retrieved 10 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "MP to anti-royal constituent: get a life and stop whinging". The Daily Telegraph. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "MP Bob attacks Vaf fan in angry letter". Colchester Gazette. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Sir Bob Russell MP 'broke Commons expenses rules'". BBC News. Retrieved 13 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Whitehead, Jeff (1999). Colchester United: From Graham to Wadsworth – A Complete Record. Desert Island Books. ISBN 1-874287-27-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Colchester
Succeeded by
Will Quince