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SLAPPED Down! London’s Libel Litigators Face Consequences At Last

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This week the UK Ministry of Justice and the legal regulator, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA), signalled major support for tighter regulations on law firms and for tougher legislation to control abusive litigation against the media and against freedom of speech.
On Tuesday at the second Anti-SLAPP Conference in London the SRA published a public warning and new guide-lines for law firms who pursue actions against journalists, whilst Justice Minister Mike Freer addressed the conference to promise urgent legislation to prevent abusive law suits designed to silence journalists and NGOs.
The action comes just one year after a group of journalists and civil society organisations joined forces to highlight the growing problem of so-called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) and what has become known as London’s ‘Reputation Management’ industry, spearheaded by a growing body of specialist law firms working with selected PR companies, private investigations outfits and more shadowy entities who collaborate to deter and intimidate the media from speaking about powerful and often questionably wealthy clients.
The modus operandi is to blackmail targets into retractions and silence against the threat of having to spend huge sums of money to defend themselves against often frivolous legal complaints for alleged defamation, invasions of privacy, copyright infringements or data violations. At the same time aggressive defamation, surveillance and hacking operations are more often than not launched against the defendants themselves.
In the course of exposing the 1MDB scandal and other Malaysian corruption issues over the past ten years the editor of Sarawak Report has been the target of dozens of such operations commissioned by clients from Malaysia and beyond. These included a major multi-million ringgit law suit lodged in the London High Court by the PAS Islamic Party president, Hadi Awang in 2018.
As one defence lawyer observed this week the Hadi case against Sarawak Report was in their view “the paradigm SLAPP”:
“There were so many red flags: the letter of claim being sent on behalf of PAS, information being shared with online trolls, Hadi not being named in the article, witness intimidation, very low reader numbers in England & Wales, the list goes on… If anything like the model law had been implemented in 2017 you would undoubtedly have applied to dismiss the claim as a SLAPP”
Indeed, having withdrawn his case following GE14, Hadi Awang publicly acknowledged that he had only pursued it for party political purposes during that election and said the alleged slur on his reputation was no longer worth removing once the election was out of the way.
After all, the article in question did not even refer to him or name him personally, whilst it did on the other hand raise the public interest concern (later verified time and again) that PAS was secretly working in alliance with Najib and receiving election funding from UMNO.
Such spurious cases have become a recognised menace against free speech and democracy and Sarawak Report together with a raft of top media organisations and human rights groups this week signed support for a model law to kick out these SLAPP suits before they start burdening defendants with unfair costs. The government has agreed to look at the recommendations and bring in its own version of such a law, following several high profile cases where kleptocrats and Putin’s oligarchs have cost publishers and journalists millions for exposing their corruption.
It means that, in future, attempts to bully entities like Sarawak Report from highlighting issues such as 1MDB and other forms of kleptocracy in Malaysia will find themselves facing early moves for dismissal on the grounds of public interest.
Trigger-happy defamation lawyers in Malaysia should also take note because the reforms will set new standards and new precedents that will inform judges in KL as well.

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ICE London 2023 to feature exhibitors from record 68 nations – IAG

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Industry trade show ICE London will feature exhibitors from a record 68 nations, topping the previous best of 65 set three years ago, according to organizer Clarion Gaming.
ICE London returns as a full-sized show for the first time since 2020 from 7 to 9 February, with the total 623 exhibitors representing everything from Argentina to Australia and Macau to Mexico.
“No other exhibition in the gaming space can come anywhere near the internationalism of ICE,” said Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter.
“To have 68 nations represented by our community of exhibitors means that visitors are immediately part of what is a global experience with unique access to the smartest gaming innovators drawn from every corner of the world. There are very few exhibitions of scale in any industry sector which are able to compare with such international representation and legitimately lay claim to being a ‘global’ or a ‘world’ event.
“Once an event is recognized as being genuinely international, stakeholder groups including brands, regulators, trade associations, media groups and strategic industry-wide bodies focus their activities accordingly.
“Research that we’ve undertaken has shown that for many people ICE and iGB Affiliate London actually start on the Sunday preceding and finish on the following Saturday. In that week we estimate that over 100 gambling industry events will take place outside of the show hours providing a new and compelling perspective on why ICE and iGB Affiliate London are so influential and important to the world industry.”
IAG will have a team of four at ICE London next week. Visit us at Stand ND7-C.

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David Ford and Annie Dressner Live in London

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There’s something special about London on a Saturday night – there’s a certain buzz in the air as you head into the Capital city. For me that buzz was extra special, as I was going to see David Ford and Annie Dressner at The Lexington in Islington. I literally listened to their ’10 Days (Live)’ album for the first time a week ago, but since then it’s been on repeat and heading in I knew that the night was going to be special.
The Lexington is a great place for music, with a bar on the ground floor before heading up the winding stairs to the spacious venue itself. And as the crowd started coming in, the atmosphere in the room was growing by the minute.
Opening the night was Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart. He set the night off really well, with an engaging set that got the crowd onside from the start. He opened with his 2021 single ‘Hot To Trot‘ and you already knew the set was going to be a good one – a rousing folk song with great lyrical dexterity. The highlight of the set was ‘Frontlines’, a simply gorgeous song (check out a YouTube video of the song here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDCLwYwsesk). Gary ended with a fine cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Song for the Asking’.
It was time for a quick visit to the bar before settling down for the main event. 
The duo appeared on the stage to great applause, David in an orange shirt and Annie in a sparkling black dress. They opened with ‘Easy Falling’, the first song that I’ve ever heard of theirs, and a song that convinced me I needed to listen to the rest of the album. This slow and moving number is a touching love song and shows off the brilliant harmonies of David and Annie – there’s something special about the English (David) and US accents (Annie) mingling in the way that they do. 
Throughout the set, there were so many highlights. ‘Something I’ll Have to Learn‘ is a song with an almost timeless feel that feels like a conversation in song, Annie’s original ‘Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names‘ was simply brilliant and ‘Some Folks Are Lucky I Guess‘ is a song with a great sentiment. ‘Can’t Help What I Want‘ (below) is a great example of those brilliant harmonies that the two share.

‘Trash‘, a cover of the Suede hit, was a particular highlight – a song that was a nice surprise on the live album. As they break into ‘Oh maybe, maybe it’s the clothes you wear‘ it almost feels like this was a song that Suede wrote for David and Annie, their version is that good. Outstanding.
The set had a second cover, a song that Annie introduced as ‘an American classic‘. This classic was ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ from Chas and Dave, a song that typified the cockney sound of London back in the 1980’s. I love the way they re-worked it and there was something special about the way Annie sings the word ‘Darling’ in her US twang that just resonated and put a smile on my face.
There were great moments of humour throughout the night, the chat between the two great. At one point mid-song, Annie passed her guitar to David, exclaiming ‘I knew there were chords in this song, I just didn’t know which ones‘ which had the crowd laughing.
The best of the night was saved till last. ‘Warning Sign’ had quickly become my favourite song from the pair and hearing it live in person lived up to all expectations. There’s such a beauty in live music, and hearing songs like this with other people in a venue can really bring a song home – and almost even change your own personal relationship with a song.
The final song of the night (there was no encore as David explained that they literally had no more songs!) was ‘Put Me In A Corner’. Annie’s vocals take the lead in this track and it was just magical, the emotion of the song emanating from the stage and filling the room. You can listen and see for yourself below.

You never know what to expect when you see an artist or artists perform for the first time. Some exceed expectations and some just don’t hit the heights you expect. In David Ford and Annie Dressner, it was definitely the former. The gig was stripped back – just two people on a stage creating a moment. And what a moment it was.
Annie and David and reviewer Nick Cantwell
Check out their websites and hit and follow the social links!
http://www.dressnerford.com/

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http://anniedressner.com/
***Note – I need to say a word about the audience for the gig. The audience was impeccable, with barely any talking at all at any point (apart from whispered orders at the bar). Credit goes to Gary, Annie and David, who managed to grab the audience from the start, but also to everyone there. If you were there yourself, give yourself a high five!***
Review written by Nick Cantwell (instagram.com/nickcantwellmanagement)
 
 
 


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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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