Thai libel actions brought againt UK freelance are dropped after plaintiff's extortion conviction - Press Gazette

Thai libel actions brought againt UK freelance are dropped after plaintiff's extortion conviction

Multiple libel cases against British freelance journalist Andrew Drummond under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act have been stopped after one of the principal plaintiffs was convicted for extortion.

Drummond says that the country's Appeal Court confirmed the conviction against a 60-year-old newspaper publisher. The freelance foreign correspondent accused the man of using his newspaper to defraud foreigners, falsely claiming to have been invited to Thailand by royal proclamation, sexually harassing Filipinas who he illegally employed, and falsely claiming to be a lawyer to defraud clients.

The publisher took out multiple lawsuits against Drummond, whose defence was largely paid for through crowdfunding and donations from victims.

Drummond accused a second plaintiff of falsely claiming to be a British barrister and a former officer in the Royal Marines who was cheating his “legal client”.

This second man was convicted of defrauding a 78-year-old American woman out of nearly $300,000 in legal fees and sentenced to three years in jail.

He was bailed to appeal but disappeared, with a warrant now out for his arrest for fraud and charges relating to revenge porn.

After losing two libel cases, hetook multiple lawsuits out against Drummond including Computer Act complaints for publishing satirical photoshopped pictures of him as a lawyer and a Royal Marine.

It is illegal to photoshop pictures with the intention of ridicule in Thailand.

Drummond, who has worked for The Observer, Times and Evening Standard, left the country early last year with his three children, aged eight, six and three, after he said he received threats from “boiler room” fraudsters in Bangkok.

He said: “The names of at least one, and possibly more, and certainly the banks they have been using have come out in the Panama Papers and I expect more to be revealed.

“Thailand’s Computer Crime Act laws mean it is virtually impossible to carry out an investigation in Thailand while naming the villains and still remain in Thailand. Anybody can take a case and courts do not award costs if you win. You have to fight for years to get your money back and that may cost you money you do not have.

“But worse I could not even work while cases hung over me because each time I left the country I would have to apply to the court – not the sort of thing you can do on a breaking  story.”

President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand Mark Head previously said: "The number of cases filed by the same litigants, or people connected to them, strongly suggests  they are using Thailand's criminal defamation law to try to stop Mr Drummond from carrying out his legitimate role as a journalist.”




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