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The Independent Online
A SCORE of employees at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) were hospitalised with food poisoning on Tuesday, having eaten some dodgy tuna steaks with salsa in the staff canteen.

Happily, all 20-odd bankers were released from St Bartholomews Hospital by 8.30pm, and only two missed work the following day.

The incident sparked press reports of a "diplomatic incident", with suggestions that City of London food inspectors had been barred from entering EBRD's Bishopsgate premises on the grounds of "diplomatic immunity".

An EBRD spokeswoman denied the report and said she bitterly regretted the journalists' attitude - especially when I reminded her of the only other time I remember EBRD being in the headlines. That was when Jacques Attali was forced to resign as the bank's first president in 1992 because of over-spending on gold-plated loos and the like.

"It's only the English press that do this. In other countries we're front page news because of the good things we do," wailed the spokeswoman.

Which may well be true. Meanwhile, I'll stick to the bangers and mash.

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CHERIE BOOTH has failed to get an injunction lifted against one of her clients, the former chief executive of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, Ann Nealon.

The Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands upheld the injunction granted to the exchange this week following the termination of Ms Nealon's employment with the Exchange on 23 May.

Ms Nealon was appointed to head up the exchange in April 1997 after a successful legal career with Clifford Chance and Linklaters, as well as a stint as a director of policy at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. All went well until she was offered a job this spring with a Cayman Islands law firm, WS Walker.

The exchange then claimed that she had misused confidential information. Its injunction prohibiting her from doing so will continue until the case can come to court.

Ms Nealon denied the accusation and counterclaimed for wrongful dismissal - a separate action which will be heard in the Cayman courts on 26 July.

Ms Booth, having made it to the previous court hearing on 28 June, will not be able to attend the next one, however, due to other engagements.

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TALK ABOUT a dream job. Ian Hannah has just been appointed the new chairman of the Gin and Vodka Association of Great Britain.

Mr Hannah's other job is director of corporate communications at Allied Domecq.

I'm sure his first board meeting will be a spirited occasion.

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KPMG HAS poached four investment bankers and a strategy expert to join its corporate finance department. They are Chris Archer from Guinness Mahon, Christopher Hardie from Charterhouse, Jeremy Moore from Granville, Stuart Stevens from Warburg Dillon Read and Simon Poole from ITT London & Edinburgh.

When I remarked how unusual it was to see the bean counters raiding the investment banks for talent, John Griffith-Jones, head of KPMG Corporate Finance, countered: "Ah, but most of them trained at accountancy firms before they moved to the banks."

In contrast Mr Griffith-Jones is about to celebrate a quarter of a century with the same firm.

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LINKLATERS, the London-based law firm, has signed up Gianni Origoni & Partners, Italy's number two legal firm, to its network of more than 2,000 lawyers throughout Europe.

Terence Kyle, a senior Linklaters partner, says Origoni's offices in Milan are "just amazing". When he visited them for the merger talks he was told that they used the same interior decorator as La Scala, Milan's world famous opera house.

"I decided there was only one possible codename for the merger talks - `Project Opera'," says Mr Kyle.

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