A British journalist based in Thailand believes he is probably the most sued journalist in the world and that is, he says, because foreign crooks have been abusing Thailand’s ill-conceived libel and Computer Crime Act laws.
Andrew Drummond, a British investigative journalist, has conducted investigations which have been led to the arrest and return to the UK of several British criminals.
But many have set up operations in Thailand and freely associate with senior police, army and civic officials.
In England and Wales there are usually under 30 libel trials every year. In the last 12 months in Thailand Drummond has been pursued in 20 cases alone – 11 of which he has won, one he has lost and is appealing, with a further eight still in the system. He is now counter suing but concedes he has been drained of all cash.
Thailand’s Computer Crime Act and Libel laws, he says, are a gift to the foreign criminals in a country where foreigner against foreigner crime has risen he claims to ‘epidemic proportions’.
“If a foreigner is cheated by another foreigner in Thailand and the victim complains in strong words, he faces prosecution here by criminals who have caught on to the fact that the Thailand’s laws will work for them because that is how they have been working for the monied classes. Many foreigners have fled having been cheated out of millions, usually on property.
“Police are not interested in foreigner on foreigner crime just as probably in London police would not care too much about two Romanians ripping each other off. But Thailand now has a massive international reputation of not only being a great holiday destination, but a place where you will be cheated.”
Here follows Andrew Drummond’s statement:
My name is Andrew Drummond and I think I may be the most sued journalist in living history. In all over the last 12 months I have either won outright or had dismissed 11 out of 12 libel cases brought against me. I have another eight to go.
In England and Wales in the year 2011- there were some 28 recorded libel cases. And this is a country which has been described as a centre for libel tourism so high are the awards given if, as a journalist, you get something wrong.
In Thailand I am getting nearer and nearer to the total of all cases in Britain for one year – and I am just one journalist. I have been a journalist for over 40 years. The first 20 in Britain where despite working for the gutsiest newspapers I was never ever taken near a libel court. The last 20 or so I have been here in Thailand as correspondent for the Observer, The Times and the London Evening Standard.
Who is suing me? Three people who I have exposed for cheating other foreigners in Thailand.
I am providing a public service, but in Thailand the libel laws are built around protecting those who might do us harm. These people have cheated Thais too and launched vicious attacks on my Thai friends who help me..
My first plaintiff or accuser is an American who lied when he came to Thailand and opened up a law firm. He was not a lawyer – I exposed that – and in the United States he was exposed in a major investigation conducted by a daily newspaper there, which in black and white described him as a person of myriad lies.
This man has a judgment against him for US$72,000 for selling bogus share stock and was also being chased for another US$80,000 when he arrived in Thailand. He was also accused of sexual harassment and had several complaints of assaults on women against him.
But here in Thailand, where truth is a sought after commodity, he founded his own newspaper, had himself photographed with top police and local dignitaries and two years ago had the gall to splash across its front page his name with the description ’14 years in service to the King of Thailand’.
The first plaintiff is currently in court in Thailand charged with extortion along with his Thai common law wife. They are accused of attempting to blackmail a health clinic out of 7 million baht on pain of a police raid and bad publicity in their newspaper.
The second plaintiff is a well-known criminal. He is a Briton, who while in Australia refused to return to Scotland to face an arrest warrant for fraud on the Royal Bank of Scotland. He was then refused residency of Australia because the Deputy President of the Australian Appeals Tribunal, which deals with immigration issues said he was ‘not a person of good character’.
And shortly afterwards he was arrested and charged with stealing over AUS$400,000 from his employers and jailed for six years. This man should not even be in Thailand for two reasons under the Immigration Act
(1) Because he has been refused residency of another country
(2) Because he has been jailed for serious offences.
But here in Thailand this man has been made welcome, has been able to freely run around the courts pretending to be a British barrister, and amazingly he has even been able to address the courts as an ‘attorney in fact’.
I exposed that too in the British press and on my website (He sued and lost) – This man is currently in court for cheating an American woman out of US$300,000 for his legal services. But despite his history of running away from both the Scottish and Australian authorities he has been given bail.
My third accuser is a friend and business associate of plaintiffs one and two. Who is he? Well he was the former owner of a brothel in Melbourne. How do I know? Because I checked with Australian colleagues there.
But never mind he actually went into court and admitted he was the licence holder of the brothel in question – and what’s more under the laws of the State of Victoria the licence holder is responsible for anything that goes on in his brothel.
And what happened in this case? On my website I called him in English a pimp and so did a reader. There is no single other word in the English language to describe him. He won because pimp was translated as a maeng-da (horseshoe crab) something nobody will understand at all in the English language, but which is libelous in Thai. The judge said I had written nothing wrong – but a poster to my site had – and found me guilty!
I am being judged on stories in English by people who do not know the language.
Now this former brothel keeper is further suing me over an article in a British newspaper which was merely the reporting of a trial in which he was described as an aide to a mafia like figure. Under British law this is absolutely right and proper that I should report this case. But in Thailand I actually have to go and answer libel charges.
What has happened is that lawmakers in Thailand have taken British law brought to the country by Prince Rapee and twisted it in a way that suits the rich against the poor. Truth is no defence to libel here.
Meanwhile my opponents continually boast that I will run out of money long before they do.
That is their game. I have had to pay up to £3000 (150,000 baht) a month on these cases – and of course half the time I cannot do my job. These foreigners know how to play the Thai court system and they can get the cases delayed to pro-long my time and increase my costs. They have boasted on the internet about what they are doing and the courts are willing if unknowing collaborators.
|Drummond will have to pay a small fortune – an adversary threatens third party|
They have dragged me and lawyers down to places like Koh Samui. These people all own so called companies in Thailand and have been given permission to stay to carry out their mischief.
|And then offers inducement|
These trials are of course crazy. I am publishing on an international website, registered in the UK, and hosted in the United States. I follow British law. In Britain not only would these cases have been thrown out but my adversaries would have been jailed a long time ago.
I am a single father looking after three Thai children, aged six, four and 2. As a foreign correspondent I have been stopped from working by the Pattaya Court which in its infinite wisdom, having received a malicious letter from a plaintiff, has stopped me leaving the country to do my job as they had judged I was a flight risk. Run away from my children?
That was one of the cases many cases of which I was found not guilty and the order has been revoked.
So much for the freedom of the press. I have even had to withdraw my children from a private school. And I have had to give my work to other journalists.
It is a very scary situation not being able to work, looking after three children, having no cash at hand and having to find 100,000 baht just for a bail on a case, which the court clearly does not understand.
A court in Bangkok has provided a strong message that I am a journalist doing my job and being attacked for it.
But it appears that a court in Pattaya has decided that its reach is all encompassing. If we follow the court’s logic any internet publication in the world can be sued in the courts here under Thai law even if the publisher is based in the U.S. under US law.
This is of course why so many criminals head for Thailand and make it their home. Cash will buy their innocence and silence their enemies. It’s not something this country should be proud of.
But as long as the current situation exists and courts cases do not run from beginning to end on consecutive days justice delayed will be justice denied – and Thailand will attract every crook in the western world – because it appears all crooks here need is a healthy bank balance.
I have survived. The only reason why I am not in jail today is because thankfully members of the public who can see I am doing good have come to my aid with donations.
I will continue to fight. I hope good Thai people will also see that what I am doing is right.
But I desperately need help to fight and survive the next few months so I can finally get these people into court themselves and pay for the damage they have done.
I, (we) have come so far, fought so many battles and one, it would be tragic to lose at this state.
Please click on the ‘Support Andrew’ button if you can help. Or you can message me here and I can give further details. Thank you.