media law trends for 2015

Shamelessly I am reprinting this excellent summary by media law guru Gill Phillips, director of editorial legal services at the Guardian News & Media.

 2015 looks set to be another year of important developments in media law. First published on Olswang’s Changing Business Hub on, this piece highlights some of the key areas for media professionals to monitor.

12 December 2014

From net neutrality to copyright: media law trends for 2015

Copyright and piracy
With a view to making our copyright system better suited to the digital age, in November, media lawyers saw the arrival of the long-awaited final stages of the Hargreaves recommendations. They include a series of new statutory copyright exceptions [PDF] around quotation and data mining. 2015 will see whether the changes are for the better. The law has also been changed to allow people to make more use of creative content protected by copyright, for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche, without having to obtain the permission of the rights holder. Expect to see an increase in sampling and artworks, especially by musicians and cartoonists, with a consequential increase in court actions testing the boundaries of the new exceptions.

On the other side of the fence, 2015 will continue to see online piracy causing problems and the industry trying a mixture of hard and soft measures to control it. In July this year, a new industry scheme, Creative Content UK, was launched aimed at promoting legal entertainment online and establishing a system of education and warnings for internet users whose connections are being used to illegally share films and music.

In November, the high court ordered six of the UK’s leading internet service providers to block a total of 53 web sites, which brings to 93 the total of blocked sites providing access to such content since the first restrictions began in 2012.

November also saw a new EU commission take charge, with harmonising copyright reform high up on their agenda. Expect to see continued attempts to break down the national silos of telecoms regulation, copyright and data protection legislation, with a view to their greater harmonisation and the completion of an EU digital single market. Some are predicting one-stop shopping to ease consumer access to content from other EU-member states and copyright levies relating to use on the web.


Net neutrality
The battle over how best to protect and promote an open internet will continue. Deciding whether to entrust the internet to government control or the control of the telecommunications companies or internet service providers (ISPs) will continue to be a difficult call. Net neutrality or open internet rules work on the basis that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally and that consumers should be able to use the internet more or less how they please. In the US (but see this as reflecting the battleground more widely), there is an ongoing battle over how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should classify broadband internet service providers.

The FCC is considering reclassifying ISPs as “telecommunications services” as opposed to their current designation of “information services” which would give the FCC far more power to regulate ISPs. The fight for net neutrality will continue in 2015.


Edward Snowden and privacy
Talking of the internet, a global study of more than 20,000 internet users released in November by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Ipsos revealed that 60% of internet users have heard about Edward Snowden and of those aware, 39% have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of his revelations about the Prism/Temporaprogramme. The obtaining, use and retention of personal data by state agencies and commercial companies has come under intense scrutiny since then. 2015 will see increased awareness of online privacy among consumers. In the UK, this will manifest itself in more people using subject access requests under the Data Protection Act. There will also be further legal challenges to the way the police have been using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to monitor the activities of journalists.

Following on from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling against Google Spain, there will undoubtedly be more take down requests, not only impacting Google but also other tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo.

The increasing influence of the European Commission and the CJEU
The Google Spain right to be forgotten case was one of the major events of 2014 and the ramifications will continue to reverberate in 2015. The CJEU will continue to flex its muscles in areas around freedom of expression that are traditionally considered to be the remit of the European court of human rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

While media lawyers are all familiar with the role and rulings of the ECHR on issues of freedom of expression, we have been less cognisant of the potential of the CJEU. In 1995, there was a surprise court ruling on where a company could be sued for damages in the libel case Shevill versus Presse Alliance SA. Then in April 2014, there was the Digital Rights Ireland ruling that the Data Retention Directive was invalid followed not long after, in May, by the CJEU’s ruling against Google Spain. In June, a court in Ireland referred the issue of US “safe harbours” to the CJEU. Conjoined with these CJEU forays, the European parliament’s attack on what it regards as the anti-competitive nature of the big US internet giants will intensify in 2015.


Although not law, the ongoing battle over media regulation is set to continue, especially with a general election due in May 2015. In November 2012, the Leveson report made recommendations for the independent self-regulation of the press.

In March 2013, the leaders of the three main political parties signed up to a new independent regulatory system, establishing a Leveson compliant process of independent verification (or “recognition”) for any new regulatory arrangements that resulted. On 30 October 2013, a royal charter [PDF] was granted which established the Recognition Panel to provide that independent verification.

In response, the print media set up the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which started operation in September 2014. Ipso so far has published only one resolution. Rival regulator, the Impress Project is waiting in the wings.The Guardian, the Independent and the Financial Times have not signed up to Ipso. 2015 is undoubtedly going to see the battle lines converging, amid calls for Leveson part two into the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International and other media organisations, and into the way in which the police investigated those organisations, to take place as soon as the current criminal trials end.


Programmatic advertising
Programmatic advertising – display ads that are bought and sold using automated systems and processes such as real-time bidding – is growing at a huge rate. According to a recent study by research and strategy consultancy MTM on behalf of the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB), almost £3 in every £10 spent on online display ads in 2013 were bought through programmatic technologies. The study shows that of the £1.86bn spent on display ads across the internet and mobile in 2013, 28% (about £500m) was traded programmatically.

A key issue here next year will be around how this data is used. Expect the lack of regulation around this area to feature as well.



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Silent Knights

In the blogosphere random observers quite independently latch on to a topic which quickly takes on a life of its own to become an issue. It is a common enough PR headache, but for an organisation, sticking that head in the sand is not an option. Sometimes, you need to be seen to be doing something to address it. A good and topical example is IPSO, the new independent press standards (complaints) organisation. It’s been operational as people’s champion for exactly three months TODAY. I say operational, but to the outside world there seems to be nothing happening. And so a few tweets remarking on the resounding inactivity, grow into little stream of online comment, and spontaneously IPSO gets dubbed ineffective, based on nothing but its own silence. Don’t take my word for it; glance at their website and twitter feed @IpsoNews. I count two tweets (about job vacancies) and a couple of press releases.


In his (November 9th) lecture to the SOCIETY OF EDITORS’, IPSO’s Chairman the urbane SIR ALAN MOSES, who incidentally got little coverage except in a paper which is not (as yet) signed up to IPSO,  said  “I am not frightened to speak to and argue with those who doubt the ability of IPSO to regulate. But words and expressions of intent are like beating the wind, something more, far more is needed.” Indeed, even a bit more would be an improvement. I am well aware that this wise man, with years of experience as one of our most senior judges, is not going for the showy trial, the big bang, knock media heads, fine ‘em, make ‘em bleed approach, but I do consider it time to kick the tyres and start the engine. Why give Hacked-Off and those so quick to dismiss IPSO as the lacky of Barons, more ammo they don’t deserve. I see Hacked-Off are now asking us crowdfunding folk to cough up for an anti IPSO cinema advert which I have no intention of doing and nor should you without a very clear understanding of what Hacked-Off actually stand for.

But IPSO, the fact is there is constabulary duty to be done, to be done.

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Whistle-blowing practice

The Beeb report that the Home Office has issued a document on ‘enhanced protection for Police whistle-blowers’. (BBC R4)

Reminds me that one of the pranks played on rookie policemen and women over the years, was to pin up a notice in the police station telling them to report to ‘Hackney Marshes’ on Sunday morning at 0700 for ‘whistle-blowing’ practice. Innocent fun (except for the probationers who went) and a far cry from what the term means in the Metropolitan Police now.



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Scottish Power – to the People

With the recent drama of Scotland’s near exit from the Union (mercifully not dubbed Sexit), you might think Scottish Power (SP) is a soubriquet for the nationalist movement, rather than an energy company supplying, if not exactly serving, 5.4 million homes and businesses. Nor is it really Scottish. It’s now owned by Spanish energy giant IBERDROLA SA, (share price in free-fall for two years).

I have to declare an interest, because I was, up to this week, a dual fuel client of SP, whom I had picked as the cheapest provider on one of those internet comparison sites where every company has either a nationalistic ring; Energie de France (EDF), British Gas, or an apocalyptic one. I love the sinisterly named npower and how about E.ON – for which the antonym must be F.OFF surely?

If only I knew then what I know now, I might still have my hair, because SP was at that moment undergoing ‘SAP system integration’. I am tempted to say the SAP was me and thousands of others, who for whatever reason, jingoistic or financial had signed up with SP online.

SAP (so Google tells me) is an enterprise resource planning software developed by Germans. In short SAP drives all of a company’s marketing, sales, field service, product design, development, production, inventory control, human resources, finance and accounting in one (it must be HUGE) package. To us, the SAP SAPs it meant SP inputting my account details on to their shiny new all-wheel drive platform. And, as is the case with two-clever-by-half software, it bogged it. And not just my details, but countless others. In short, I vanished from their records for a year, which was nice for them as my account was £800 in credit !

But this SAP uber-glitch was not new, and should not have come as a surprise to SP. British Gas and several other power companies have all tried to integrate their millions of clients into the SAP software with horrendous results. Furthermore, had SP bothered to read the ‘user reviews’ they might have stumbled on this telling sentence ‘ deploying SAP itself can also involve a lot of time and resources’. But no, they plunged ahead regardless, into an unmitigated disaster, from which they still, two years later have not recovered.

However, and this is the nub of it, they then compounded it by trying to keep stumm.

Instead of getting out there and telling customers there were major billing problems, they just pulled up the drawbridge and didn’t answer the phones or respond emails as people became ever more frustrated and then plain furious.

‘Authorities’ like the Energy Ombudsman seem either powerless or reluctant to mediate, by creating all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles, like arbitrary time limits, which you have no way of knowing about until you initiate the complaint. Even the Daily Mail (fgs) whinnied only last month they couldn’t get Ofgem off their fat to do something about it.

But what surprises me (doesn’t really) is that SP believed they could, and can, get away with it. Do they not comprehend even today, that we the people have at our disposal an armoury of Comms, with which to alert fellow and future SAPs; Just think of the money it must be costing them as each and every one of us sticks it to the company’s reputation. They must be haemorrhaging clients all over the shop. There is so much negative PR about SP at the moment, for which SP management are entirely to blame. see:

Just as an example, in my own battle, now resolved, I have variously, submitted my views on SP to where 807 people (a record exceeded only by npower) rank SP from bad to terrible. Georgia of Cheltenham (8/9/14) writes it was like ‘ dealing with the devil’ – and adds sadly:

“Moved into my new house, they’ve been a pain ever since I’ve moved in! Been with them about 14 months now and regret it! Making me that stressed out I don’t love my home anymore! Just revived a letter from bailiffs saying I owe Scottish power £200 from a period of 18/10/2013 – 23/10/2013 In 4 days?!?”

I have contributed to ‘We hate Scottish Power’ on Facebook which has hundreds of posts in a similar vein. Janet Peel writes

“Today I have finally moved away from Scottish Power. After months of arguing, distress, wrong bills, inaccurate meter readings, hours on the phone, pathetic customer service, and much, much more.’

I have even voted in an HM Government ePetition to have SP investigated. (it will achieve nothing)

But most effective in alerting the world to SPs customer service shambles is Twitter. Since I sat down to write this little tale no more than 45 mins ago, there have been no less than 38 tweets to their @SP_EnergyPeople account. Take a look yourself. Read the fury and frustration of normal people just trying to get on with their lives. It works out at about one tweet a minute and it’s like that every day.

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I ‘like’ it. Now on Facebook

Come and talk about Air Supremacy Ltd on Facebook and see what others are saying.


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Preparing for a Great Media Training Session

Good Advice from Galaxy 6 in the US

I’ve trained about 10 people this month and was inspired to write this post. A great media training session depends on both parties. Once you’ve decided to commit to media training, make sure you come prepared. Here’s a list of 10 tips on how to get the most out of a media training session!

  1. Match with the right trainer: Is the trainer the right person for you? Are you able to take advice from a man, a woman? Do you want to hear the truth? Do you need to have a current news reporter giving you advice? Find a trainer that fits in with your needs. Understand that many trainers have news backgrounds, and while that helps polishing up for an on-air/print interview, often these trainers don’t have the experience of working with companies and understanding their needs from an interview. On the other hand, does the trainer have PR experience? If that’s the case, ask if they have any experience serving as a spokesperson. Most trainers will allow you to pre-interview them to determine if they are the right fit. Watch on-air clips or read print articles of the trainer and ask yourself, “Is this someone that I would want to give me honest and direct feedback?”
  2. Prep yourself and your team: Prior to the session, prepare yourself – or your team — with the right messages: Do you know what you want to say about your company? How about your product or APP launch? So many clients walk into the training and don’t understand this time is about delivering the message. If you need time to develop the message, schedule a separate session and get those messages in place prior to a media training.
  3. Prepare main messages: Write down 3 main message points about your company or product. You will be asked to rehearse them – over and over again. Yes, if you are unable to deliver the messages effectively then you can work on revising them – but this is the end of the process, not the beginning (see point #2).
  4. Jammin’? Java? Jokster? Do what it takes to liven yourself up! Is it a good night’s rest? A cup of coffee? A morning workout? When you bring energy into a media training, you will put your best foot forward and then we can hone in on your skills and develop them even more. You can also figure out what works – and doesn’t – before a press interview.  Should you avoid that double espresso or make sure to stop at Starbucks on the way?
  5. Appearance does matter: Wear an outfit that you believe will appear well on camera. This is practice for the real thing. This includes hair, make-up and attire. Wear solid colors, not too much jewelry, no patterns or prints and avoid t-shirts (even if you are practicing for print interviews – appearance and professionalism is important).
  6. Turn off the noise: Try – just try – to focus on the training. Imagine you are really in a press interview. What is it like to work with a journalist? Turn off cell phones, complete your texts and get to work. This may be your first (and last?) time you ever get to work with the press.
  7. Trust the trainer: Do your best to utilize the feedback and go back and try to do it again. You will see for yourself how much that feedback can help you improve and feel more comfortable with the interview process.
  8. Best bloopers: Ask your trainer to send examples of good and bad news clips, or to show you them during the training. Watch and learn from the experts. Also, watch and read old interviews you’ve participated in. Bring the clips to the trainer of print articles you liked/did not like. What was wrong with it? What was your best/worst experience with the press? Share this with the trainer so they will be able to help avoid the situation again.
  9. D-I-Y Training! If you aren’t ready with all of the above, avoid the media training all together! Simply record yourself using your iPhone video device – ask/answer the 10 hardest questions you think media will ask you. Replay it and watch yourself! You will be your own worst critic and avoid the training all together. Don’t forget to go back and try it again with your self-feedback. [And, you know who to call if you don’t want to do it yourself!]
  10. Prepare your trainer:  Here’s a quick checklist of what we ask clients to provide so that we can do our part in preparation as well:
  • Company goals and objectives for training outlined in a document and/or via email
  • Company overview or corporate presentation
  • Company message points
  • Top media outlets that cover your company
  • Sample of past interviews by trainees
  • Trainee bios
  • FAQ in previous interviews, and or FAQ expected in future interviews
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Do You Need Media Training

(courtesy of

(Article courtesy of


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Told You So!

I knew it! I knew there was something fishy about the Andrew Mitchell Plebgate story. Back on the 23rd September I blogged “keep a pinch of salt handy and I was right. Mitchell is calling for a full enquiry. I agree. Fairness demands it.

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BBC: Snoozenight lawyers asleep at the wheel?

“Some basic journalistic checks were not completed and no one was sure who was giving the final sign-off on the story on the day, the report found (FT)”

I’ve been asked by countless people (OK, one) what I think of the latest Newsnight catastrophe – speechless, open mouthed, appalled, just about sums it up. Where were the BBC’s duty solicitors? We used to do investigations all the time when I was at the Beeb (and other Radio/TV stations). Job 1- find story. Job 2 (not necessarily in this order) Convince jaundiced bitter dyspeptic editor, it really was a story. Job 3 (by far the hardest) sneak it past the programme lawyers – who would pick it apart. I always joked it took six months to train (tame) an in-house prog lawyer. But in fairness they did expect you to have some facts (aka Truth) to back up the allegations;  corroboration helped, plus a quick zoom round motivation/reliability/background of witnesses was considered wise. And (most important question of all), “will the target sue?”.  Were they all asleep at the wheel on Snoozenight?

BBC Newshound

It seems these basic questions were not asked, either by the reporter, the producer, the editor, and the lawyer whose sole job it is to safeguard the broadcaster and up to a point the target.
Which reminds me – I seem to remember that when we made:“allegations of wrongdoing, iniquity or incompetence or (laid) out a strong and damaging critique of an individual or institution the presumption is that those criticised should be given a “right of reply”, that is, given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations” (BBC Editorial Guideline 6.4.25.) Well if you ‘presumed’ that, you’d be wrong. And as for that cheap stunt Schofield tried on the PM over on ITV – I hope for multiple sackings and an eyewatering Ofcom fine. Didn’t young Cameron handle it brilliantly though? – text book.




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LIPA lacks PR Power

LIPA Crew at work (Photo credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)

Ten days after the worst storm to hit Long Island NY in living memory, thousands of homes there are STILL without power. The local power company LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) has come in for considerable criticism. And while it’s far from here, their crisis PR is a lesson in how not to do it. This ‘dis-missive’ from the LIPA Hurricane Sandy Storm Center yesterday is a good example – (my bolding):

As of noon today, we have restored power to over 750,000 customers on Long Island who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Approximately 190,000 remain without power; this figure excludes many of the customers in the hardest hit areas not yet able to receive electric power. By end of day, Wednesday November 7th, we expect to restore power to 90% of all customers whose homes and businesses are safe to accept power. Additionally, those customers in and around the most severely damaged areas of Brookville, St. James and Port Jefferson should expect to be restored in up to another week or more.

“Excludes!” LIPA fails to appreciate that Newspapers and TV are interested in the people’s suffering and who’s to blame. By excluding stats about the hardest hit communities (many thousands of homes, without heat, light, cell phones or Internet since Oct 30th – some now receiving care packages) LIPA put themselves at the mercy of the media, rather than leading the story. And to write should expect to be restored in up to another week or more, is sackable. People know the magnitude of the problem, but they need to know LIPA’s commitment to relieving their misery. If LIPA cannot utilise the media to provide information, reassurance and hope, they must expect NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, to complain about them, as he did on Tuesday, again. “Simply put”, said Cuomo, “I am not satisfied with their performance.” And nor is anybody else.

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I look awful in yellow – who knew?

Looking your best is just as important as saying it right, so we are now actively promoting Style and Colour counselling with Red Leopard ( for all our Media Training clients. Red Leopard advises on colour, style, image and make-up enabling you to create your own unique look or improve on the old one. And it’s definitely not just for ladies. Give Manina, Kay or Annie a call on 0207 376 4057 and mention my name. It’s not expensive and its quite fun. Who knew that I look awful in yellow.

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Andrew Mitchell – keep a pinch of salt handy.

I went to a famous public school. I was a policeman. I was an adviser to the House of Commons Commission. I rode my bike in and out of the Palace of Westminster daily. Why are these facts relevant? The answer is Andrew Mitchell MP, still Chief Whip for the moment anyway. I’ll come to what he said in a jiffy, but I’ve little sympathy for the police he allegedly insulted. I know first hand how arrogant and boorish the Palace coppers can be. One accidentally sprung a steel car-barrier from the road-way as I was riding over it; sending me flying. Trying to get an apology and £70 to fix the back wheel took ages. Don’t forget that 99.9% of the time, policing the Palace is a cushy job. Coppers in rough neighbourhoods get abused regularly (I know!) so these two have no business being offended. In my day you could not offend a policeman. It needed a passer by (ideally an old lady) to be outraged before an arrest could take place – but that all changed with Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. It made mere insults an arrestable offence. Many people (me included) do not consider it for the courts to prevent hurt feelings when the real casualty is freedom of speech. Especially, the feelings of those empowered to carry guns, truncheons and tazers. I have no doubt Mitchell was rude, but what did the police do to provoke his outburst. We need to know that too. Still, what concerns me here, is if he really called them ‘plebs’ .  This is what the Sun reported him saying ‘Best you learn your f****** place. You don’t run this f****** Government. You’re f****** plebs,Why do I have a sinking feeling that he may have said nothing of the kind. Public school types, of my acquaintance anyway, don’t talk like that. To me it smacks of a pastiche of Cad Speak from a comic strip. Say it out loud in your best Bertie Wooster, Flashman, Alan B’Stard voice  and you will see what I mean. Nobody says “You’re fucking Plebs”, to a policeman, anymore than Londoners say ” its a fair cop guv, you got me bang to rights, me old china” or Irishmen say ‘Begosh and begorra, tis a lovely day, so it is, to be sure”. Unless they can provide CCTV or audio to corroborate the copper’s account – perhaps Mitchell’s used ‘plebs’ elsewhere – I’ll keep a pinch of salt handy.




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“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster”

Clint at the RNC

Having a famous movie star endorse you is no guarantee.

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Back to work

Yes I’m gathering a handful of experienced media trainers, to run my courses for executives, Meet in London in September. Send a CV.

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No Brainer NBC

Cannot believe NBC showed US/CZ Beach Volleyball quarter finals, when rest of world got to see 100m Finals. Fantastic Twitter storm. Serves them right.
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“London 2012″ Put Out More Flags

One big difference between the Olympics and the Jubilee, is that everybody from smallest stall holder to mega-store was able to cash in on the Jubilee GB brand. I have never seen so many Union flags and so much bunting. It wasn’t just pretty, it was good for businesses. Conversely, anybody even dreaming of putting something resembling the Olympic Rings in any shop window or website, gets a heavy duty warning notice of intended prosecution from the IOC. So London will be without the explosion of spontaneous visual excitement, which is a real shame.

I am not prepared to buy into the IOC line that “The International Olympic Committee and London organizers raised more than $2.4 billion from the sale of marketing rights in the four years through the 2008 games in Beijing, providing more than 44 percent of their funding during the period. The rings are among the world’s most recognized symbols. Companies like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Samsung, which pay as much as $100 million each to be official sponsors during each Olympic cycle, expect organizers to protect their rights. British lawmakers (passed) a law that gives organizers the power to bar companies from using Olympic trademarks and even certain combinations of words — such as “London 2012” — that may infringe on the rights of sponsors.”

If my PR instincts are right (and they usually are), and there is sufficient evidence of people (particularly small retailers) objecting to this heavy handed protectionism by the IOC (the Sponsors will be very sensitive to negative PR now) then London could be decked again in Flags and bunting this July and so what if they toss in a few Rings. Better still a bit of Retailer Disobedience would not go amiss. By the time 10, 100, 1000 shops have Rings and things in the window, the IOC can go whistle. I am doing my bit by saying London 2012 at every possible occasion. “London 2012″ “London 2012″ “London 2012″ “London 2012″

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Freelance Media Trainers Wanted

I am looking for freelance media trainers, with 5 years plus, real TV and Radio experience. Also Presentation Coaches with 5 years plus experience. Must be happy to follow my proven training methods. CV’s please to

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Air Supremacy Interactive Media Training

A new business is born: Air Supremacy Interaction – interactive media training. (I’ve nicknamed it – Remote Refutation Management) – more later.  (

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Grüezi mitenand!

@AirSupremo: Hello ZRH! Not just 1 but 2 mega Swiss media training clients nxt week.   #PR  #AirSupremacy rocks.

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Tweet tweet

gr8 Media Training 4 #Spider-PR (London). gd Job Air Supremacy!

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500+ connections

Spent the last week, soliciting LinkedIn contacts to reach this milestone achievement “500+ connections” – now I can relax, safe in the knowledge that I am umbilically invisibly eternally conjoined with strangers. The world is a safer place as of 7am today.

(thinks) I wonder if this chap Assad is on LinkedIn – I might send him a message. “Hey Assad, we are on LinkedIn – stop killing people.”

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Please Sign Now

My God-daughter Domenica Lawson has a severe permanent learning disability. I would like to help her and thousands like her by asking you to sign this e-petition.

Domenica Lawson Christening 1996

You may know somebody with a child like Domenica so please pass the message on. We have about 6000 signatures as of today. We need 100,000 to trigger a debate in  Parliament. With your help we will get there. The petition says:
Ring fence funds allocated for people with learning
disabilities and review the way in which funds are allocated to ensure cradle to grave care.
(HM Government. Department of Health)
To find out more about Domenica and the problems she and thousands face, see today’s Mail on Sunday:

Thank you.

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Nuts and Bolts: 9 Basic Questions to ask a Reporter.

With everyone obsessed with Virtual Media, it’s easy to forget the basic questions when you get a call from a live flesh-eating journalist.

1. What’s Your Name/Contact details?
2. Can You Tell Me More About The Story You’re Working On?
3. Are You Approaching This Story From Any Particular Perspective?
4. Who Else Are You Interviewing?
5. What’s the Format?
6. With Whom Would You Like to Speak?
7. Is There Anything Else I Can Help You With?
8. Who Will Be Doing the Interviewing?
9. When Are You Airing the Story?
(c) Brad Phillips 14/9/2011

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The Battle of Hatchfield Farm is won.

The Battle of Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket is over. Rachel Hood and her fellow campaigners have won. Lord (Teddy) Derby’s appeal was rejected by the Planning Inspector Ian McPherson and ratified by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

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Syria: media coverage

Just been reading some stuff on line about whether our coverage of Syria is ‘balanced’ or not. Having worked as a reporter in Beirut, albeit years ago, I wonder if I can venture a view. All our western media can do is hold up a template of our values against which to assess the hideously complex situation in Syria. I believe the search for balance as an ideal is a false one. If, by giving equal weight to all parties you must add in the propaganda of tyranny, extreme religious views, or centuries old tribal rivalries in every report, you will still not have balance; and the issues that truly matter, the ones that Marie Colvin and others are dying for, will have been drowned out in the din.

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Lovin’ it

Busy Busy since Jan 1st – working with Halfords, Barclays, B&Q and Superdrug .

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Just Common Sense?

They are debating on one of the PR Forums whether PR isn’t ‘just common sense’. The implication being that it’s not a proper profession, anybody can do it. I beg to differ. A public relations professional has a proper understanding of his/her client’s business, their stakeholder audiences and markets; an appropriate qualification, relevant practical experience, plus the speed, originality and authority to create and drive policy, in possibly difficult circumstances. I don’t call that common sense – any more than any other professional; lawyer or  engineer, would term their skill and expertise ‘common sense’. If PR’s are offering PR advice based on ‘common sense’, ‘gut feel’ or a Ouija board, than I urge them to stop, before they leave themselves and this industry open to ridicule.
I’d be interested to know what you think.


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But not YOUR opinion..

I have a TV/internet account with Optimum Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), who emailed me to take part in a customer satisfaction survey. Question 1 – Are you in PR or Advertising?  But when I clicked Yes – this is what I got:

Thank you for your participation, but your criteria does (sic) not match what we’re looking for at this time.

Why does a PR or Ad man’s opinion not meet their criteria? Why p*ss any customer off, especially the sort with lots and lots of access to media! Plain Shtoopid and they never gave me the chance to tell them that their Broadband/phone/HDTv package is twice the price and half the value of the equivalent Virgin Media package in the UK. But they know now and so do you.

This was their invitation.

Dear Optimum Customer,This is just a friendly reminder that we are randomly selecting valued Optimum customers like you to participate in a survey about computers and
devices being used in your home.We are continuously striving to improve our services and would appreciate your time to complete our survey. The survey should take about 5 minutes to complete and your feedback is very much appreciated. To take the survey, click below:
Thank you,
Your Cablevision Customer Advisory Panel TeamIf you have questions about the survey or run into technical issues with  the survey, please contact our 3rd party Survey Management vendor at: general questions about Optimum, please contact:

Systems Corp.

1111 Stewart Avenue, Bethpage, NY 11714

*To review our privacy policy please click

*To opt out of this and all future Cablevision Customer Advisory Panel surveys, click the unsubscribe link below. Unsubscribe

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Thanksgiving Message

Sat Nav

To my many American Friends. If further proof is needed of the extreme age and provenance of wireless technology; it’s a 17th Century British invention.  I am reliably informed that we sent it over on the first pilgrim ships. Mayflower is an American corruption of Wi-Flyer, a SOTOP 1620 class  (satellite optimised trans oceanic puritan) merchant vessel,  out of Plymouth. The name Speedwell refers to her on-baud rate, which was remarkably good at about 5mk (megaknots).  It’s also where the Elizabethan term “Aye Capt’n” comes from. It is actually ‘iCaptain’, as they were specially trained in the use of the new equipment. Have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday – at least we gave you something to be Thankful for. JS

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The Tatler and Bikestander

With the racing world livid about Lord (Teddy) Derby’s plan to concrete over a chunk of Newmarket, Sir Michael Stoute (the Queen’s Trainer), Sir Henry Cecil and the legendary commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan are hosting a fund-raising dinner for 250 at the Newmarket Jockey Club next Saturday November 26th. It’s a total sell out. The Organisers (Save Historic Newmarket Action Group) invited Tatler Editor Kate Reardon  to send a photographer. To their genuine surprise she snubbed them.

The Earl of Derby

A Kate Reardon gave £100 towards Teddy Derby’s Trans Jordan Lycra Jolly (see Jordan Charity Bike Ride ) on Just Giving, gushing: “Frankly you’re crazy. kxx”. (12/11/11)


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RIM Shot

from CorpComms Magazine Nov 2011 Issue 62


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Rick Perry Fluffs It.

Rick Perry fluffs it
Check out this clip of Rick Perry forgetting his key message due to classic MBS (marshmallow brain syndrome). I suspect it spells the end of his shot at the Presidency. (wouldn’t have happened if he were my client.)

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Today’s joke

“In English,” said the linguistics’ professor, “a double negative forms a positive. However, a double positive never forms a negative.”
“Yeah, right.” said a voice.

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MediaCityUK: Investigations and Secret Recording Guidance

The Beeb has revised its Editorial Policy on Investigations and on Secret Recording for programme makers planning: larger-scale investigations to reveal serious
anti-social behaviour or crime, with a significant element of undercover work,
and secret recording, central to the evidence-gathering. The revision was undertaken after the BBC Trust upheld a complaint against a section of undercover footage in Panorama: Primark on the Rack, and is based on the best practice learned by BBC investigative programmes over the years.  It emphasises the need for note taking and record keeping that will authenticate  material and to plan for the scrutiny and challenge that can often follow a successful investigation. There is also new advice on the operation of undercover journalists. In addition, extra care and checks may be necessary when an investigation is carried out by a journalist with a demonstrable commitment to a relevant cause – to ensure the methods will be able to withstand robust scrutiny. You can read and download the Investigations guidance here.  The newly revised Secret Recording guidanceis relevant to anyone looking to gather material secretly, and includes a new section on authentication of material. The Secret Recording guidance is here. (extract from BBC Editorial Policy News Letter Oct 2011)

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beyond Calais

Overheard at the Lutea investment seminar today. Two really old blokes, who didn’t know each other, got chatting during the coffee break. One said to the other: “The trouble with the Greeks,” he said, ” is they don’t know the meaning of the word work.” To which the other replied. “I know, it’s always bloody mañana mañana.”
Makes you proud to be British.

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And me

Spotted this tweet just now “Anti #NPPF lobby now includes Melanie Phillips, Morning Star, George Monbiot, WI, NT, CPRE, Mail, Telegraph. Strange bedfellows. SWP next?” @colinwile

Jonathon Porritt, has written a sarky but funny open letter to benighted Greg Clarke, Minister for the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that has united all those strange bedfellows listed above. Worth reading

and Simon Jenkins is in the Times today (p24), only I can’t give you a link because of the damned Murdoch pay-wall (to help towards the £3m they are paying Milly Dowler’s family)



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What’s this Contributor business?

Some people have asked why you need to get confirmation in writing that you are a ‘contributor’. (See Tip 2 below) You can read my blog post,
for the long version but in brief Ofcom ruled last year (to universal dismay) that despite an obligation in their Code to give targets of allegations the chance to respond to them, Kellogg’s and Nestle were not contributors to a C4 Dispatches programme. The key to this is the word ‘contributor’. Dispatches asked the manufacturers some questions (allegations to you and me), but it seems, intentionally, never asked them to contribute (by interview or statement); thus avoiding having to inform them in advance about all the allegations. Hence the very real need to establish that you are contributor before you speak. Hope this is helpful. JS

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My 22 Tips for handling unwelcome TV Crews

  1. Avoid
    a confrontation, with cameras around. It makes great TV.
  2. Get
    confirmation in writing that you are a ‘contributor’ (ask me why this is so important)
  3. They
    will not concede editorial control, but find out as much as you can.
  4. Be
    careful not to make ‘unreasonable’ demands. E.g. demanding an as-live interview, questions in advance, or previews.
  5. Mention
    legitimate no-go question areas, e.g. commercial confidence or sub judice.
  6. Negotiate
    on the phone, follow up by email.
  7. Treat
    all cameras as running, all mikes on, even when they say they are not.
  8. Don’t
    stop an interview midstream
  9. They
    are guests in your premises, so prevent opportunistic filming.
  10. Ask
    about significant changes, they must tell you.
  11. The less
    they tell you, the more suspicious you should be.
  12. The later
    they approach you, the more suspicious you should be.
  13. Always
    ask if there is anything they have not told you before both the interview and
  14. Don’t
    video them or they will film you doing it.
  15. Do
    sign the release form. It makes little difference.
  16. Do
    give them a suitable place to set up, don’t crowd them, don’t be bullied either.
  17. Don’t
    leave them alone – or if you do, mike the room so you can hear what they are saying about you.
  18. Do give them reasonable time for the interview. 30 mins would be normal. But set an overall limit.
  19. Allow
    time for re-takes (if they are favourable to you) but resist additional filming unless you are happy.
  20. Do
    record the interview yourself.
  21. Make
    a transcript and send them a marked up script of your known views.
  22. Keep
    it friendly but they are not your friends.

(c) John Stonborough. 07771 893 683


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I am definitely going


Date: Wednesday September 21st 6.00pm for 6.30pm

With Murdoch on his knees, MPs’ expenses, Wikileaks, phone hacking and Tomlinson; investigative journalism seems to be going through a purple patch. Is it really alive or is this a false dawn?

Andrew Jennings, bane of FIFA

Chair: Kevin Marsh, former editor ‘Today’ BBC Radio Four
Paul Kenyon BBC Panorama
Donal MacIntyre, investigative journalist
John Ware, BBC Panorama
The debate marks the launch of the book Investigative Journalism: Dead or Alive?  Edited by John Mair and Richard
published by Abramis on September 20th. Author priced copies will be available on the night.
Venue: Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2
Entrance: £12.50, £10 for early booking, £8 students and senior citizens. Just turn up or click this link to book your places through the Frontline website.

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Is it really a fake?

Such a sad picture of Steve Jobs in the paper today. Is it a fake, the internet is abuzz? Really shocking if it is. As my wife Jane says, “the man is a genius,  just when you think you’ve got everything you want, he comes up with something else you can’t live without.” The irony is that if it is a fake, it was probably done on an Apple computer.

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Catboat: Its not a message, it’s a warning from 1880!

No Pussy Cat, The New England Catboat







I happened across this brilliantly ‘funny’ account of sailing the classic New England Catboat, in the New York Times May 25th 1880! The message comes down the years loud and clear; this pussy cat will bite you.


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Ben’s Briefs: All the Holidaying News-Junky Needs

Brogan, aid to informed skiving

Dawn is breaking over Bellport Bay, here on Long Island. Every cloud has a silvery lining, quite literally and its very beautiful. Yesterday’s rain seems to have blown through. They certainly do plenty of weather here. Another bucolic day ahead, but it is an informed choice to park myself by the pool. London burning, markets in free fall, the North Atlantic credit crisis, Osborne urging the world to ‘do it our way’. Ben Brogan’s (Daily Telegraph) News Briefing email, keeps me as au courant in current affairs in NY11713 as if I was in Fulham SW6. Thanks Ben.

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“Talk to me Verizon” and they did! Finally.

Verizon Wireless, in the shape of lovely Customer Relations Specialist and part time goddess in human form, Veronica Murietta of Southern California, capitulated (I told them they would) and have settled with me. I wonder what made them change their mind? Was it logging my dispute about their Early Termination Charge on this blog and Twitter and LinkedIn AND Facebook. The risk of lost sales was way in excess of my $350 dispute. Who knows. But whatever it was, I made sure it was in their interest to settle ASAP. The consumer is king. Long Live the Consumer.

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Not a glimmer on my Verizon

Just wondering how many Verizon puns there are, sadly there aren’t that many. I am working on ‘Verizontal’ like horizontal but have not found a use for it yet. Any ideas?

Had a good response to my last post, it seems I am not alone with Verizon Wireless issues.


Customer Service supervisor ‘Nicholas’ (really?) promised to ‘reach out to me’ within 72 hours, that was on 29th July, needless to say not a peep. (Bit like their mobile phone service round here) – but he did (very unintentionally) make me laugh. I told him, I was recording him, to which he replied he’d have to terminate the call.I reminded him he was recording my call, to which he said, “that is for training and quality purposes”


For new readers, my complaint with Verizon Wireless is very simple. I am disputing their “early termination charge” of $350.

I am resident in England but have a holiday home on Long Island. In May I purchased a Verizon  iPhone 4 with an annual contract for my wife, . I made it clear she intended to use the phone on Long Island (631). To our dismay – there is no viable Verizon Wireless service at the house. This was catastrophic and caused us no end of problems. The only way we got a signal was to get in the car! After fruitless phonecalls and emails with Verizon Wireless, we had to ditch their phone and transfer to AT&T, which does work. Now Verizon Wireless are demanding an early termination charge (fine) even though they can’t provide me with a signal.

I don’t see why they should enforce their contract when they cannot provide me with service – which is after all the ONLY reason for going to them.


I am noting their ‘lies’ and will update you.

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A speck on the Verizon

Be very careful before entering into a Verizon Wireless mobile phone contract. Make sure they can provide a viable signal first. There is none here at my house on Long Island. Now they are trying to charge me a $350 Early Termination Charge, as if it was my fault. I will fight them. Its going to cost Verizon Wireless a lot more than $350 if they don’t back down. Watch this space. WFM78851694

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French Farce. Broadcast Regulator’s hilarious ‘Canute’ ban of the T and FB words!

Communiqués de presse

Renvoi sur les pages des réseaux sociaux : le CSA publie la lettre envoyée aux chaînes

Date de publication sur le site : 6 juin 2011 tvradiocable

Afin de dissiper les malentendus, le Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel publie la lettre envoyée aux chaînes concernant son analyse sur la pratique fréquente pour une télévision ou une radio, consistant à renvoyer le téléspectateur ou l’auditeur vers les pages consacrées à ses émissions sur des réseaux sociaux tels que Facebook ou à réagir sur le réseau social Twitter.

Monsieur le Président,

Les réseaux sociaux font aujourd’hui partie intégrante de la vie quotidienne d’une part considérable de la population, qui les utilise régulièrement en tant qu’outils de communication. Il est tout à fait normal que les services de télévision souhaitent les intégrer
dans la conception de leurs programmes, ce dont le Conseil ne peut que se féliciter. Cela participe de l’enrichissement des émissions et permet une interactivité entre les téléspectateurs et les animateurs.

La pratique consistant à renvoyer les téléspectateurs sur un réseau social sans citer celui-ci est informative.

En revanche, les renvoyer sur ce réseau en le désignant nominativement revêt un caractère publicitaire, ce réseau émanant d’une société commerciale et sa dénomination étant déposée à titre de marque. Cette pratique contreviendrait aux dispositions de l’article 9 du décret n° 92-280 du 27 mars 1992 fixant les principes généraux définissant les obligations des  éditeurs de services en matière de publicité, de parrainage et de téléachat, selon lesquelles « la publicité clandestine est interdite. (…) constitue une publicité clandestine la présentation verbale ou visuelle de marchandises, de services, du nom, de la marque ou des activités d’un producteur de marchandises ou d’un prestataire de services dans des programmes, lorsque cette présentation est faite dans un but publicitaire ».

Je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur le Président, l’expression de mes sentiments les meilleurs.

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Primark Stitched Up By Panorama says BBC Trust

For immediate release 16/06/11
Trust finds it ‘more likely than not’ that certain footage in Panorama programme on Primark was not authentic
The BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) has found that a Panorama programme ‘Primark: On the Rack’, broadcast in June 2008, breached the BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy and fairness.  The ESC considered an appeal from Primark about certain footage in the programme and has concluded it was ‘more likely than not’ that this footage was not genuine.  The ESC has directed the BBC to make an on-air apology.
The programme, which investigated Primark’s claims that it can deliver ‘cheap, fast fashion’ without breaking ethical guidelines, included footage obtained in a Bangalore workshop of three boys carrying out an activity described in the programme as ‘testing the stitching’ on Primark garments.
The ESC examined a substantial body of evidence including rushes tapes from the programme, emails to the UK programme team from the freelance journalist who obtained the Bangalore footage, and witness evidence.  The ESC has concluded that, although it was not able to say beyond reasonable doubt, it was more likely than not that the Bangalore footage was not genuine.
Read the press release and the ESC’s finding in full here:
For further information contact the BBC Trust communications team on 0203 214 4946.
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Press Notice – Rachel Hood Chair of Save Historic Newmarket says cost of Derby Appeal shocking.

Press Release
SHNAG (Save Historic Newmarket Action Group)
May 31 2011
Chair of Save Historic Newmarket and President Elect of the Racehorse Owners Association, calls on Lord Derby to STOP STOP STOP his Planning Appeal.
• It’s the Derby on Saturday
• The prestigious Derby Dinner tomorrow (Wednesday) hosted by Lord Derby
• One year since the Newmarket (FHDC) councillors threw out Lord Derby’s massive Hatchfield Farm development scheme (2 June 2010)
In this important week, RACHEL HOOD – Chair of Save Historic Newmarket (SHNAG) and President Elect of the Racehorse Owners Association, calls on Lord Derby to STOP STOP STOP his Planning Appeal.
“The money it’s costing the Council, the people and businesses of Newmarket to stop him concreting Hatchfield Farm is simply shocking.” says Rachel Hood, Newmarket’s newest elected district Councillor, “it makes me so upset! This money should be going to vital community services! Not wasted on legal bills. If he (Lord Derby) really wants to do something for Newmarket as he claims, then he must stop now – before a million pounds is squandered. ”
SHNAG won at Judicial Review in March and now will raise still more thousands to fight his Planning Appeal on behalf of the people of Newmarket.
Cllr Hood, elected to Forest Heath District Council on a wave of popular support in May, has spent three years leading efforts to stop Lord Derby building his new town on a greenfield site in this world famous Suffolk horse racing and breeding centre. She says the four week Appeal Hearings due to start on July 12th will cost Save Historic Newmarket Action Group in excess of £150,000, on top of the £75,000 spent on their victorious Judicial Review in March.
In addition to SHNAG, other parties who must be legally represented at the Appeal Hearings to fight Lord Derby’s application, are Forest Heath District Council, Suffolk County Council (both funded by local council tax payers), and an alliance of key Newmarket businesses including Jockey Club Estates Ltd, bloodstock auctioneers Tattersall’s, Darley and Godolphin racing stables and the Newmarket Trainers Federation . It is estimated these legal fees could exceed one million pounds.
The Appeal Hearings are due to continue until September. Te Inspector’s report goes to the Secretary of State Eric Pickles in October.
Notes to Editors
Lord Derby, 47, who lives near Liverpool, owns 167 acre Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket. He has applied to build over one thousand houses (1200) and 36,000 sq meters of commercial units on this important greenfield site. In the face of overwhelming local resistance, his planning application was unanimously rejected last year. Lord Derby has defended the plans, insisting to local derision he would never do anything to jeopardise the racing industry in Newmarket.
Those opposed to the development say it will result in irreparable damage to the town, known as the HQ of British Racing.
Racing in Newmarket dates back to the 12th century. One in four of its population is employed in jobs connected to the racing industry. It is widely regarded as the birthplace of thoroughbred competition. Routes across this small Suffolk town allow horses and their riders to get to the gallops safely from their stables.
At the recent Judicial Review hearing in the High Court David Elvin QC, speaking for SHNAG told the court: “National and international racing interests are very concerned that the proposals for urban expansion will impact on Newmarket as a centre of racing excellence.”
The Men Only Derby Dinner tomorrow (Wednesday) hosted by Lord Derby was boycotted last year by  racing legend Sir Peter O’Sullevan, who held an alternative Derby dinner in protest at Lord Derby’s Hatchfield Farm Scheme.
John Stonborough FCIPR
John Stonborough & Co
T +44 207 371 9695
M +44 7771 893 683
PR for Save Historic Newmarket Action Group
Please follow Rachel Hood on Twitter @hoodrachel @stonborough
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Forgetful, Who? Me?

I have just done an on-line Alzheimer test- – give it a try and click on Cognitive Function Test. I am happy to report I have a very low risk of going gaga
just yet.
I have just done an on-line Alzheimer test- – give it a try and click on Cognitive Function Test. I am happy to report I have a very low risk of going gaga
just yet.
I have just done an on-line Alzheimer test- – give it a try and click on Cognitive Function Test. I am happy to report I have a very low risk of going gaga
just yet.
I have just done an on-line Alzheimer test- – give it a try and click on Cognitive Function Test. I am happy to report I have a very low risk of going gaga
just yet.


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