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Amal Clooney lays into Donald Trump over 'vilifying the media'

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney accused world leaders today of failing to protect journalists, even taking aim at Donald Trump for "vilifying the media".

Clooney, the British government's envoy on media freedom, obliquely criticised the US President suggesting that "the country of James Madison" - one of America's founding fathers and a champion of a free press - "has a leader today who vilifies the media, making honest journalists all over the world more vulnerable to abuse."

According to the United Nations cultural body UNESCO, 99 media workers were killed worldwide in 2018.

The London conference where Clooney spoke was called by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland with the aim of improving protection for journalists around the world.

The gathering announced the founding of a global fund to provide training, legal support and other resources for journalists in danger zones, administered by the UN cultural body.

It's unclear how much money the fund will have; Britain committed NZ $5.6 million and Canada just over $1.1 million.

Politicians, officials, activists and journalists from more than 100 countries attended the two-day meeting, but two Russian news outlets were banned.

The British government said Russian news agency Sputnik and state-owned TV network RT were excluded because of their alleged "active role in spreading disinformation."

RT was censured last year by Britain's broadcast regulator for breaking UK impartiality rules in its coverage of the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England.

Hunt used the opportunity to criticise his predecessor Boris Johnson, whom he is currently opposing in the Conservative Party leadership race.

Asking to comment on Johnson's lack of support for Britain's Ambassador to the United States , Sir Kim Darroch, Hunt said: "Boris can speak for himself."

Sir Kim resigned from his post today after being branded a fool by Trump following the leak of the envoy's unflattering opinions about the US administration.

Hunt argued the diplomat should have been defended for "just doing what he should have been doing".

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The human rights lawyer accused world leaders of failing to protect journalists, and also took aim at President Trump.