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EXCLUSIVE: Inside story behind gossip columnist’s grovelling apology to celebrity accountant Anthony Bell over Michael Clarke’s Noosa meltdown – as the size of his secret payout is revealed

  • Bell awarded ‘$150,000’ payout by Nine Entertainment after ‘error riddled’ piece
  • Bell later bragged of momentous legal win on his Instagram page
  • ‘Grovelling’ apology allegedly penned by  Bell’s crack legal team

Insiders have revealed details about celebrity accountant Anthony Bell’s unprecedented apology and payout from Nine Entertainment.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, a source claimed Bell received about $150,000 over a January 22 Private Sydney column by Andrew Hornery in the Sydney Morning Herald, headlined ‘Michael Clarke, Anthony Bell and Sydney’s most intriguing boys’ club’.

The article, which has been removed from the website, was amongst dozens of articles published in the wake of the now-infamous fracas in Noosa earlier this month involving Clarke, his girlfriend Jade Yarbrough and Karl Stefanovic.

Bell with Clarke aboard the Perpetual Loyal's Boxing Day Bon Voyage back in 2015

Bell with Clarke aboard the Perpetual Loyal’s Boxing Day Bon Voyage back in 2015

However the piece contained allegations about Bell and his Loyal foundation charity that were ‘plainly untrue’ – leading Bell to initiate legal action early on January 23.

It’s understood Australia’s top two defamation barristers Sue Crysanthou and Mark O’Brien led Bell’s legal charge, firing off a note to the SMH in the hours after publication to retain any texts or emails relating to the information published in the piece.

It’s understood it is the first time Bell has taken legal action against the publication following years of mentions in both the gossip and news pages – in particular during his split from ex-wife Kelly Landry in 2017.

‘Anthony saw the piece as the last straw,’ said a source close to the fallout.

‘He had no idea the article, or hit piece, was coming. There was no call for comment in the days prior. It just appeared and it was brutal.

‘So brutality was met with brutality.’

Soon after Nine Entertainment agreed to a ‘six figure sum’ in compensation – said to be around $150,000.

(Both Nine and Bell have declined to comment.)

It's understood it is the first time Bell (R) has taken legal action against the SMH following years of mentions in both the gossip and news pages

It’s understood it is the first time Bell (R) has taken legal action against the SMH following years of mentions in both the gossip and news pages 

Top defamation barrister Sue Crysanthou (pictured attending Lachlan Murdoch's Christmas drinks in 2022) believed to have been on Team Bell

Top defamation barrister Sue Crysanthou (pictured attending Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas drinks in 2022) believed to have been on Team Bell

Nine also agreed to what was an unprecedented apology – a grovelling, quarter-page mea culpa at the top of last Sunday’s Private Sydney column.

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There was also a pointer to the apology on page 2 of the Sun-Herald print edition and it ran prominently online, soon becoming the top-read gossip-related story on smh.com.au.

It also featured on Bell’s personal Instagram page, with the accountant posting a chunk of the atonement with Pat Benatars’ ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ and Joe Esposito’s You’re The Best’ (from the Karate Kid soundtrack) playing in the background. 

It’s understood the apology – allegedly crafted by Bell’s legal team and later printed verbatim – has become the talk of legal and media circles in light of its size and prominence.

‘One top barrister noted that it was the most prominent apology they had seen in print in four decades,’ said an insider.

It is the most high-profile apology for the Herald since its shambolic handling of the Rebel Wilson saga back in June 2022.

Nine agreed to an unprecedented apology penned by Bells lawyers and published in the Private Sydney column penned by Andrew Hornery (pictured)

Nine agreed to an unprecedented apology penned by Bells lawyers and published in the Private Sydney column penned by Andrew Hornery (pictured) 

It is the most high-profile apology for the Herald since its shambolic handling of the Rebel Wilson saga back in June 2022

It is the most high-profile apology for the Herald since its shambolic handling of the Rebel Wilson saga back in June 2022

Again it was Hornery squarely at the centre of the outrage, with the gossip columnist accused of forcing the Australian actor to come out after giving her a deadline to respond to a question about her relationship with a woman.

The paper offered no less than three apologies in the days following and copped a barrage of criticisms from LBGTQI rights activists who argued Wilson had been essentially forced into a ‘an appalling situation’.

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‘They are personal decisions…Who you disclose to first, how you do that, and when you do that,’ LGBTIQ+ Health Australia’s chief executive officer Nicky Bath told The Guardian at the time. 

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