News & Updates

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19/02/19
Emily Dugan a senior reporter for Buzzfeed News, has been announced the winner in the print and online media category of the 2018 Bar Council Legal Reporting Awards.(1)

Her winning article from October 2017 focuses on the injustice and difficulty faced by those who are representing themselves in court, and the effect the Legal Aid cuts have had on the number of people seeking support in court because they have no lawyer.

Emily Dugan tweeted “Honoured to have won the 2018 Bar Council Legal Reporting Award for written journalism. Makes up for all those rude names they have for me down at Petty France...”

She explains that “The piece told the stories of people with no representation - and the lawyers who went up against them. It also revealed a 520% increase in those seeking help to fight their case alone.”(2)

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales and promotes (amongst other things):
- The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
- Fair access to justice for all
- The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
- The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.(3)

Emily Dugan received her award just several weeks after she exposed abusive messages sent between Ministry of Justice staff in responce to her published article. Online messages referred to her as “a real bitch” and “crazy”.(4)

Thankfully, the Bar Council recognised her reporting as both skilled and important in raising awareness as to how exactly legal aid cuts are undermining our justice system and its true scale. She is an important voice given that the judiciary itself are often not allowed to publicly be critical of the cuts themselves.

(1) https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media-centre/news-and-press-releases/2019/january/disclosure,-litigants-in-person-and-a-1964-miscarriage-of-justice/
(2) https://twitter.com/emilydugan/status/1085885021951528960
(3) https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/about-us/what-is-the-bar-council/
(4) https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/ministry-of-justice-staff-called-buzzfeed-uk-reporter-bitch-and-crazy-in-internal-messages-after-leaked-report-story/

Author: Edward Beaver February 13 2019
19/02/19
The UK’s favourite shop keeper and former BBC Dragon Theo Paphitis received recognition on the 31st January at the 2019 Retail Trust Ceremony for the work he has achieved for the retail sector. The award comes from the leading retail sector charity, The Retail Trust.

Theo Pathitis with Touker Suleyman at the Retail Trust Ceremony

Established in 1832, The Retail Trust is a trade charity for the 4.5 million people working in retail and the supporting service communities. The charity improves lives through wellbeing services, vocational and career development programmes, and retirement estates. Their welfare focuses especially on physical, emotional, financial, vocational and educational wellbeing.(1)

The Retail Trust is an incredibly active charity. In December 2018 it announced the beginning of a new Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree, whilst the month before the charity began funding young entrepreneurs to launch their own retail businesses in Glasgow and London.

Theo Paphitis tweeted “Thanks to the @retailTRUST for my Retail Legends award, or Retail Leg end, as I like to call it! Congratulations on a great night and well done to all those who supported the evening. 👏”(2)

Theo Paphitis is chairman of the Theo Pathitis retail group whose brands include Ryman Stationery, London Graphic Centre, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue. His businesses employ over 4,000 people and combined annual sales are in excess of £350 million.

(1) https://www.retailtrust.org.uk/
(2) https://twitter.com/TheoPaphitis/status/1091273639696257024
Author: Edward Beaver February 10 2019
18/02/19
As the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill reached its third reading stage in the House of Commons on 30thJanuary 2019, critics have become increasingly vocal.

The aims of the bill are to enable law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to apply through the UK courts for a court order requiring service providers outside the UK to produce or grant access to electronic data for the purposes of investigating and prosecuting serious crimes. An application for an overseas production order could only be granted if the judge was satisfied that the data was likely to be of substantial value to the criminal proceedings or investigation for which it was being requested, and that production of the data would be in the public interest.(1)


Whilst these aims may seem reasonable at first glance, the bill has faced widespread criticism from eight UK NGOs, including the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), News Media Association, Reporters Without Borders and a number of press freedom groups.

The NUJ warned that the “looming legislation aimed at tackling crime overseas would create fresh dangers for journalists and compromise press freedom.”

“Despite the union’s repeated advice on the dangers contained in the government's Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill, the government has persisted.”

“The Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill will permit the UK government to allow foreign governments to apply for access to information stored in the UK. These new powers will not be accompanied by safeguards for journalists working in the UK or journalists living in exile.”(2)

Under the current Police and Criminal Evidence Act ('PACE') journalistic material, which includes television programmes/un-broadcast rushes, is given special protection from seizure by the police. If the police want to seize such material, they must apply to a judge. Normally, the holders of the material, that is the broadcaster/programme-makers are entitled to make representations to the judge and argue against disclosure if they so wish.(3)

As reported by the Press Gazette, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The tools available to our law enforcement must be fit for the online world in which we live. Ninety-nine per cent of data linked to child abuse is held overseas and the faster we get it the quicker we can stop abusers.

“This legislation – where an international data access agreement is in place – would give police and prosecutors quicker and easier access to vital electronic data held outside the UK.

“We have listened to concerns and made sure that journalists will be informed in advance of an application being made to the court. This will give them the opportunity to make representations to the judge at the time of the application.”

Update: The full debate, accurately referred to as ‘Ping Pong’ was scheduled for 11th February 2019.(4) Subsequently the bill has been given royal assent as from 12th February and formally become an Act of Parliament.

(1) https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2018/december/have-your-say-on-the-crime-overseas-production-orders-bill/
(2) https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/nuj-slams-uk-governments-latest-attack-on-press-freedom/
(3) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/60/pdfs/ukpga_19840060_en.pdf
(4) https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/crimeoverseasproductionorders/stages.html

Author: Edward Beaver February 9 2019
Updated: February 13th 2019
11/02/19
A single payment of any amount, a monthly or annual recurring commitment, or a digital and paper subscription? The variety of methods to financially support The Guardian are numerous and completely optional to a reader - not to mention largely successful.

Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Katharine Viner has indicated that current earnings from subscriptions and contributions would be equal to that from paywall. This is in light of the fact that the current donation method allows the Guardian Online to be free and available to anyone.

With greater exposure as a free-to-access newspaper, Viner has said a hard paywall “isn’t really a conversation” at the news group anymore.


Viner said feedback from readers showed that people are choosing to give money for the Guardian’s “serious stuff”, such as reporting on environment, health, science and US President Donald Trump.

“That’s really great because that’s why we exist,” she said. “We exist to understand and contextualise the world and that’s what they tell us they appreciate.”

Given that all of the Guardian’s paper content is also on their website and their app, it might call into question how long the print edition could last.

Viner did not reject outright the notion that the group’s print products might eventually close, telling Press Gazette interviewer and Guardian colleague Jane Martinson: “I can’t say when that would be.”

“Our print readers are incredibly devoted and it’s a really important part of their lives, but obviously particularly the issue around distribution becomes more difficult each year… [we are] certainly committed to it for now.”

The key drive for “donations” or contributions to the Guardian seem to stem from a demand for quality journalism and reporting on prime issues such as the environment, health and science. Known for breaking stories on the likes of Cambridge Analytica and the Windrush scandals in the past year, it seems there is no shortage in the paper of major headlines.

Picture credit: Amador Loureiro on Unsplash
Author: Edward Beaver on February 6 2019
06/02/19
Persistent cost pressures and an increasingly difficult market were two issues highlighted by The Times editor John Witherow in an application to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for greater flexibility to share resources The Times and Sunday Times on January 18 2019.


The undertakings that were put in place - mainly for The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers to have separate editors, editorial teams and newsrooms - were put in place when Rupert Murdoch acquired both newspapers in 1981.

Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times, said, “The Sunday Times remains the biggest selling broadsheet in Britain and to protect our distinctive voice we need the freedom to work more closely to avoid duplication and invest more in the agenda-setting journalism we are famous for.”

The main concern regarding the application should it be granted, was starkly put by Mark Di Stefano, Media and Politics Reporter, BuzzFeed UK. The fear is that “cost pressures” equate to “job cuts”.(1) It certainly would seem that a potential merging of editorial teams is a substantial cut too.

(1) https://twitter.com/MarkDiStef/status/1086234387304325120

Picture credit: Tao Heftiba on Unsplash
Author: Edward Beaver on February 5 2019
06/02/19
Professors from the University of Kent have produced a report claiming that between February and October 2018 BBC Radio 5 Live did not fulfil its licensing requirement which states that 75% of its annual broadcast output should consist of news and current affairs programming.

The operating licence was issued by Ofcom from October 2017 and sets the regulatory conditions for the BBC to fulfil its mission and ‘serve’ its audiences.

The report highlights a number of other issues with the delivery of BBC Radio 5 Live’s public service commitments:
  • The BBC’s assertion that it does comply depends on the categorisation as news/current affairs of substantial quantities of output that cannot properly be so described.
  • The BBC’s freedom to miscategorise material relies on the absence of an agreed formal definition of what constitutes news.
  • The blending of news and sport content in programmes scheduled as news output blurs a critical distinction and erects a barrier to precise measurement of performance against commitments.
  • Senior BBC News editors and correspondents are largely absent from Radio 5 Live broadcasts.


Whilst Ofcom have said that they are “enormously proud of this detailed and meticulous piece of pure academic research” from the University of Kent, the BBC on the other hand responded, “given this report was paid for by the parent company of Talksport” the BBC’s rival Wireless Group, “people can judge its credibility for themselves.”

The University of Kent research team consisting of the professor of journalism Tim Luckhurst, former Press Gazette editor Ian Reeves, Ben Cocking and former journalist Rob Bailey, were said to have received £25,000 towards their research from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK.

Contradictory to the conclusions from the research, the BBC’s annual reports in the past have shown they act consistently within their external regulatory requirements. Claiming for example in their Annual Report and Accounts for 2017/18 that “the BBC’s public purposes are enshrined in the Royal Charter and Agreement and are at the core of everything we do.”

Perhaps the debate rests on the definition of terms. Although the definition of news and current affairs is always open to interpretation, new research on broadcasting output conducted by universities is to be welcomed. Broadening public knowledge and holding institutions to account is, after all, a necessary process in our society.

Picture credit: Jonathan Velasquez @jonathanvez
Author: Edward Beaver on February 3 2019

28/01/19
As it currently stands, it is relatively simple to set up a limited business in the UK and most certainly, the majority of this can be done online. Have a look for yourself at a new video created by Companies House shown below.


This seems to be just one of the several reasons why the UK in 2018 saw a record number of start-ups enter the scene, totalling 663,272 new businesses according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs’ analysis of Companies House data. With Greater London leading the way seeing 216,204, other strong performing cities include Birmingham at 18,590, Manchester 9,107 and Leeds 7,376.(1)
Of course, the phrase ‘start-up’ can elicit different responses depending on who’s listening. An elderly relative once referred to the idea of my job application to a start-up as “an awfully uncertain prospect”. Those more enlightened might suggest that a start-up is “a state of mind” and an opportunity to create something new.

Factually a start-up company is simply a new emerging business and whether they are here for the short or long term, the statistics are promising news.

This also happens on the backdrop of the UK being announced for the second year running as the best country for business in 2019 by Forbes.(2) In addition to the unemployment rate for the UK at a near 44-year low of 4%(3) you would be forgiven for thinking it all seems rather peachy for the economy.

Regardless, what is interesting about the emerging structure of our private economy is that 96% of businesses have fewer than 10 employees (and are therefore ‘micro-business’)(4) and 60% of the private sector employment is achieved through SMEs (Small to Medium sized enterprises).(5) With large businesses (those that employ 250+) commanding a seemingly declining minority proportion of employment in the private sector, gone - or going - are the days where a single large company going bankrupt or moving their offices abroad could severely debilitate the economy.

The rise of start-ups, that all fall within the SME category, presents a promising way of tightening any slack that might otherwise show in the economy. Supported by an expanding service-sector dominance, it is easier to switch jobs now than ever - for a majority of us at least.

There are two long-term factors in play for the time being.

Firstly, whether the rate at which start-ups appear will change. I would estimate the rate will either be maintained or increase in the coming year, mainly because there is no foreseeable reason for a decline. Brexit was just as much a certainty (or rather uncertainty) in 2018 as it is now, and so presuming a majority of the start-ups last year intend to survive longer than a year (which seems pretty reasonable?) they clearly back themselves regardless of what comes in March.

Secondly, the survival rate of these new start-ups. This data is difficult to find and of course for the time being we won’t know how many of the 663,272 start-ups will survive in the years to come. However, even if survival rates are low, provided the birth rates stay high we will be seeing business growth. Let’s not forget either that entrepreneurs are, above all else, creators, and from the ashes of one business another can be planted and grown.

(1) https://centreforentrepreneurs.org/cfe-releases/business-formations-recover-to-reach-new-high-in-2018/
(2) https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2018/12/19/best-countries-for-business-2019-behind-the-numbers/#7e520636161c
(3) https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment
(4) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06152
(5) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06152

Author: Edward Beaver on January 28 2019
29/11/18
As someone who has never waved a Union flag at any royal wedding or birth or [insert whatever event royals deem noteworthy here], it might seem a little odd to trek to the West End on a wet Tuesday evening in November to hear ‘The Inside Stories on Royal Exclusives’. However, a frank conversation with the Royal editor for the London Evening Standard as well as Princess Diana’s personal protection officer delivered wit, insight and a little bit of a gossip on a particularly peculiar British family.

Ken Wharfe and Robert Jobson
Ken Wharfe and Robert Jobson

Ken Wharfe and Robert Jobson presented - like two sides of a penny - the crown and her tails, a phrase which here means two slightly different takes on the same story. “Uncle Ken” reflecting reminiscently on how splendidly Diana performed her duties as both a royal and a mother, whilst never compromising security “even once”. Jobson on the other hand, quick to point out that Diana had several affairs and played against Charles just as much as he did her.

That’s not to say however that Ken Wharfe presented a peachy rose-tint on the royals. Far from it. In fact, one of the most poignant moments of the night came from Ken looking back on how Harry and Will would ask “any chance we could have a fight Ken?” as kids do. Only for the Prince of Wales to provide a stony “hope you’re not getting beat up” whilst passing-by as Ken took the punches. Ken explains, he “felt very uncomfortable. Charles should have been there.”

On the flip side Robert Jobson highlighted the Prince of Wales' ability to bring people together and emphasised that you shouldn’t judge him just on Diana, but on his charity work and all the good that he has achieved in his role as Prince. Like any leading commentator Jobson also rose some fundamental and important points about the current and future state of the crown. The idea that our flexible constitution has transitioned us towards something of a ‘dual-monarchy’ is something for the constitutional lawyers to grapple with another day.

More interestingly was the observation that the royals are partisans, leading issues on the environment, housing and knife crime to a greater extent than most of our politicians. Whether government ministers will respect a King Charles in the same way as his mother has been, at least in terms of being regularly consulted, is something Jobson explained only time would tell. Although Jobson made it clear it would be a loss if minister don’t, asserting that had Charles had to deal with Tony Blair’s dossier he would have demanded much more than the Queen ever did.

From Philip and the Queen having a domestic about losing car keys, to a journalist getting water bombed by our future King of England, the evening wasn’t without its very humorous anecdotes. Wharfe even admitted to accidentally allowing seven-year-old “rouge” Prince Harry to wander off on his own to Tower Records on Kensington Highstreet. I wonder if Harry preferred Bryan Adams or Cher?

I would also like to point out that any question from the audience regarding comparisons between Kate and Megan were met with the appropriate long sigh of weariness.

If pushed to pick an underlying theme of the evening, it would be that the royals have finally changed the way they deal with journalists, media and the press. The days of a small palace press team and ‘no comment’ in the early 90's are over. Today the cost of the press team for Prince Charles alone stands at around £1.5 million. What exactly this entails for the family is mostly yet to be seen.

I would finally like to say a very big thank you to the London Press Club for hosting the event and providing the wine and nibbles.

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Links to the two speakers’ websites where you can also browse for their latest books can be found here:
Thank you to the London Press Club (https://londonpressclub.co.uk/) for organising such an entertaining and insightful event.
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Author: Edward Beaver on November 29 2018

07/09/17
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By Tina Fotherby

I'm thrilled and delighted to be speaking at the Pillar Unconference that takes place from Sunday July 15 2018.

I love travel so I'm excited to be spending time with many other blockchain enthusiasts, futurists and enthusiasts in Vilnius, Lithuania. The funny thing is that because it's an unconference I don't know when I will be speaking.

In fact, I was mildly horrified to learn that my talk will need votes in order to be heard. How this reminds me of school days and waiting to be picked for a hockey team. Well, the advantage of giving a talk is that I will be in good company and I'm sure I can rely on interaction from the audience, so long as it doesn't involve heckling.

I'm in Vilnius with two colleagues and look forward to meeting friends there including Andre Rafnsson who is our client, one of the co-founders of Jinbi.

Please come and say hello if you are at the conference !

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