The legal toys were definitely thrown out of the pram recently when the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) brought in their hot shot legal team, Schillings, to throw their dummies and rattles at every media outlet in the country.
Telling journalists that their members, who own around 80% of all betting shops, “don’t encourage problem gambling” and that to imply such was “defamatory”, the media legal desks could be heard quaking right across Fleet Street. Bashing the journalists with their rattles, Schillings ordered that “Our client is more than willing to engage with journalists during the preparation of stories and to provide factual material and comments where necessary”.
Paddy Power determined to test the “preparation of stories” went out of their way to encourage a problem gambler and pursued him (and his money) until he had nothing left – no job, no money and no family. Journalists fretting over the threat of defamation rapidly dialled the ABB HQ to provide “factual material and comment” – but the phone rang, and rang and rang.
A few days later, after being hung out to dry by the ABB, Paddy Power thrust themselves into the spotlight again having been revealed targeting ethnic minorities. Again journalists dialled the ABB hotline determined to give the bookmakers the chance to respond with “factual material”. “Hoorah!” screamed a journalist down the phone when a voice responded “hello ABB”. What response did the diligent journalist get? “The Association of British Bookmakers, which represents Britain’s biggest gambling firms, said it did not wish to comment.”
As Private Eye reported shortly afterwards “better luck with the legal notice next time”.