Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker, notably known for covering Thailand and South East Asia from 1988-2015
He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked for the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.
Specialising as an investigative journalist he has also worked on assignments throughout Europe, and in the United States, South America, Africa, China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, Africa, the South Pacific and Central Asia.
In television he has worked for ‘World in Action’, ‘BBC Panorama’ BBC Everyman, Channel 4 Dispatches, World Monitor, Twenty Twenty Television.
He tracked down a heroin syndicate courier of which were being executed in Malaysia for the investigative documentary ‘No Man Wants to Die’ (Twenty Twenty Television for Channel 4) completing his investigation for the Observer where he was one of the two founding partners of the Observer Film Company with his launch film ‘Lord of the Golden Triangle’ filmed in the camp of heroin warlord Khun Sa (Chan Shee Fu) and his army in the Shan States of Burma.
From Thailand until 2015 he covered most of the major breaking stories in South East Asia up to 2017, from the Asian Tsunami, to bird flu, the Bali bombings, to military coups in Thailand, the 1988 Burma Uprising and crime – lots of it – from serial killers to fraudsters and child abusers.
His investigations in Asia have led directly to the prosecution of people including a policeman for murder and the release of scapegoats set up on murder charges. He has been successful against ‘boiler room’ fraud operations, which he continues to monitor, and working with the Foundation to Fight Against Child Exploitation also tracked and identified a variety of child sexual abusers in southeast Asia, the most famous of whom was rock star Garry Glitter (real name Paul Gadd) whom he tracked down to a house in Vung Tau, Vietnam, leading to his prosecution by the authorities.
Andrew is a holder of the Maurice Ludmer Memorial Award for investigations into racism and fascism after he went undercover for two years in an extreme right wing group with links to bombing across Europe.
After 25 years in Thailand he relocated to the U.K. in 2015 with his children Annie, then 7, Matthew 5, and Archie, 2, following a series of threats, though he had always intended to leave as his when his children were reaching school age.
News of his departure was carried in newspapers across the world including the Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Nation and the Bangkok Post.
The Early Years
As told to Callum Macdonald
Andrew Drummond was born in Denmark and educated in Scotland. His father Sqdn Ldr R.P.Drummond DFC was a war-time RAF Squadron Leader flying Hudsons and B17 ‘Flying Fortresses II’ for RAF Coastal Command in the Atlantic War and later an airline pilot for BOAC/BEA. He is the youngest of three sons. His mother was Kirsten Vibeke Drummond, was variously, nurse, teacher, and conference interpreter.
Andrew Drumond attended Carlkemp Priory, East Lothian and he Abbey School at Fort Augustus on Loch Ness. On leaving school he joined the Berkshire Mercury and Reading Chronicle in Reading as a trainee reporter.
He left the ‘Chronicle’ on completing the National Council for the Training of Journalists qualifications joining the Fleet Street News Agency.
Shortly afterwards he took over as News Editor at Thames Valley News Service, which he left to work on the Evening News and the Daily Mail.
For the next 13 years he worked in Fleet Street until it disintegrated after the Wapping industrial dispute of 1986 when he walked out to make the documentary ‘No Man Wants to Die’ – an exposure of a drugs syndicate a British courier for which was awaiting the death sentence in Malaysia.
Assignments out of the UK had taken him to American, Africa, Australia, and all over Europe but most significantly south east Asia which he was to call his home for 25 years
The ‘Popular’ Press
SEX DRUGS AND STRIKE 1974-1986
As told to Callum Macdonald
He was on the Daily Mail for the last years of the Harold Wilson, Labour Government and was involved
in the ‘Hunt for Lord Lucan’, the ‘Hunt for the Jackal’, Carlos Ramirez, and at two big armed sieges in London, one at the Spaghetti House in Knightsbridge. the other in Balcombe Street.
Andrew Drummond ended up working in the Investigations Department under Harry Longmuir and it was from there that he was invited to join the ‘News of the World initially as Scotland Bureau Chief.
While at the News of the World he joined the cult ‘Children of God‘ in Tenerife for a report which was commended in the European Parliament; went under cover on a North Sea Oil rig, covered the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and went on assignments among others to the United States, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Tenerife, Australia, Nigeria and the Philipinnes.
For nearly two years he went undercover to join a Nazi organisation for a series of articles which earned him the ‘Maurice Ludmer Memorial Award‘ ‘for Investigations into Fascism and Racism’.
He also investigated contract-rigging in government departments, the disappearance of John Stonehouse, a rogue British army unit in Northern Ireland, mafia money laundering though minor British royals, and crime.
In 1986 he voiced his views with the then editor David Montgomery over the direction of the newspaper in particular over demands to refocus investigations on ‘stars’ of British television soap operas ‘Coronation Street’ and EastEnders’, and quit during the Wapping Industrial dispute
Observer Burmese Days
As told to Callum Macdonald
A week after leaving his first case was to investigate Briton Derrick Gregory, who was facing death in Malaysia for drugs trafficking.
Gregory made a full confession, naming the hidden syndicate bosses. Andrew Drummond researched the story for Twenty Twenty Television and on a commission for Channel 4 went around the world with a crew to investigate the syndicate for the Channel 4 documentary –‘No Man Wants to Die’ (Produced by Claudia Milne and Geoff Seed investigation by Andrew Drummond
By the time film had gone to edit, there was still one major syndicate boss the crew had been unable to get to. So he flew alone back to the United States to get affidavits from two drugs couriers in penitentiaries in Oklahoma and North Carolina and confronted the syndicate boss in a car park of a squash club in Surrey.
He took the story ‘Unmasked the drug baron who got away’ to Angela Gordon on the newsdesk of the Observer.
For the next few years he mixed the Observer with television, which the newspaper actively encouraged.
On assignment for the Observer in Burma he went into Karen State to report on the killings and torture – carried about by the Burmese Army on the Karen ethnic minority.
Again with Twenty Twenty Television he went back to make a documentary, this time for BBC Everyman called Burma’s Forgotten War. (Producer George Case)
Then after covering the uprising in Rangoon in 1988 he went on to cover a blowpipe war in Sarawak, Princess Anne’s Royal Tour of Burma, Laos and Thailand, and stories of Australian colonialism on Christmas Island and the Cocos and Keeling islands.
He then presented the ‘The Ratpack’ for the Channel 4 ‘The Media Show’ turning the cameras on the press for the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales (Lady Diana) to Thailand.
His visit to the Karen had opened up more and more doors among the Burmese rebels and he was finally invited into meet Burmese heroin warlord Khun Sa at his base in Homong in the Shan States of Burma.
When Andrew Drummond returned to London the Observer Film Company was born with his project set as the launch film. He returned to Thailand and Burma this time with Granada TV (Jon Woods camera, Les Honesss sound) crew to film ‘Lord of the Golden Triangle.
The film successfully launched the newspaper’s film company with Kimi Zabhiyan as in house producer, and was widely syndicated worldwide and broadcast almost simultaneously on ABC Australia ‘Four Corners’.
After the production and broadcast he took up an offer from Lyndel Marks, who was leaving CBS Sixty Minutes to join Fox TV Stations.
There as a Field Producer for ‘The Reporters‘ and Associate Producer for ‘A Current Affair‘ he helped open Fox TV Stations Europe office in Sky Television, London.
Also using knowledge gained from the Sunday Correspondent on a South American trip he set up ‘Hell on Earth’ a film on San Pedro di Lurigancho prison in Lima. And using his contacts in political extremism was also Field Producer on ‘ A Right Turn’, a film on the rise of neo-facism in Germany.
After less than a year and with the closure of the segmented documentary show ‘The Reporters’ he decided to leave and move back to Bangkok, initially as correspondent for the London Evening Standard.
Shortly after returning to Bangkok two British teenagers, Patricia Cahill, 18, and Karyn Smyth, 17, were arrested for trafficking in 26 kilos of heroin. It was the largest haul of heroin ever found in personal luggage at Bangkok airport and a story which was to run for years.
The Guardian described them as ‘innocent limp wrested waifs’ and published a series of articles in an ‘investigation’, claiming the girls were part of a Customs and Excise and British government cover-up, aided by Thai police corruption. Most of Fleet Street followed the same line.
Andrew Drummond, informed otherwise, actually stuck to the line, against considerable and sometimes vindictive opposition, that the girls knew they what they were doing.
When the young women were pardoned by the King of Thailand, and they admitted as such, he was vindicated.
Fleet Street did an about turn and Andrew Drummond’s stories in the Evening Standard were recognised by his peers as having put the story in its true perspective.
True lies – Exposing the myths behind a massive heroin bust
TOURIST FROM HELL
Shortly afterwards British serial killer John Scripps butchered a Canadian mother and son, Sheila Damude,43 and Daren 21, in Phuket and then flown onto Singapore where he had also butchered a South African.
The only motive was the cash and credit cards they had on them.
He was arrested by Singapore police under a different name. Illiterate Scripps, who had learned butchery at Albany Prison, England, cut up their bodies and put them in bin-liners for disposal.
Andrew Drummond flew to Singapore with Scripps’ sister and interviewed Scripps in Taneh Merah prison.
Scripps confessed to the murder of the South African only giving a scarcely plausible reason that the South African Gerald Low had made a homosexual pass at him in the hotel room.
Andrew was then commissioned to follow Scripps trail back to the United States, Mexico and Belize.
Three other people known to have had contact with Scripps ( disappeared without trace, Timothy MacDowall, a British financial advisor, William Shalik, an accounant, and a San Francisco gay prostitute Tom Wenger.
Scripps was the first Briton to be hanged in Singapore.
Andrew Drummond went to Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, when a British Army team got lost in the treacherous Low’s Gully; to Irian Jaya when some British students were kidnapped, and switched from the Evening Standard to ‘The Times’ in time for a libel trial in Singapore when Premier Hoh Chok Tong was suing opposition M.P. J B Jeyaretnam represented by the legendary Q.C. George Carman.
For The Times Andrew Drummond, returned again to Mt. Kinabalu when an English girl went missing on the mountain, and to Sarawak to see the results of the government victory against the indigenous dayaks over their fight for the rain forest.
And he was the only western journalist to report from Turkmenistan for a decade during the rule of tyrant Nyazov – the Great Turkmenbash;.
Reporting out of Thailand his assignments took him to Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Australia, and Indonesia.
When God’s Army, an army nominally led by two young boys Johnny and Luther Htoo, were accused of being behind a hostage siege at Ratchaburi hospital in Thailand Andrew Drummond walked across the Burma border again to meet up with the child soldiers.
In December 1995 British backpacker Joanne Masheder was murdered while visiting the caves of a local Buddhist temple.
Her murderer was a young Buddhist novice who killed her for just the few dollars she had in her rucksack.
The monk Yodsak Suaphoo had befriended Joanne (right) in the grounds ot a a local temple and than beat her and threw her body into a cave. In 1996 Yodsak was sentenced to death, reduced to life. He died in prison while serving his sentence.
In 2001 came the rape and murder of British back-packer Kirsty Jones in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Death of a Backpacker.
Kirsty from Brecon, a University student had booked into the Aree Guest House in the Northern Thai capital.
To this day nobody has been arrested for this offence although Thai police have a complete DNA profile of her killer.
This was followed in 2004 by the brutal murders of British backpackers Vanessa Arscott, 23, and Adam Lloyd, 24, by a Thai policeman, again by the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi.
Police Sgt Somchai fled to Burma for a month. Local people were terrified to testify against him. But in the end he was convicted and jailed for life.
Then in 2006 came the murder and rape of Katherine Horton, 23, on the Thai holiday island of Koh Samui. Murder comes to a holiday idyll.
Katherine was walking on the beach at night talking to her mother on the mobile phone when she was set upon by two fisherman who had swam ashore with rape in mind.
They had been drinking alcohol and watching pornographic videos.
Within two weeks they had been found, tried and sentenced to death.The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. There still remains some controversy over this trial.
Andrew Drummond has also carried out many assignments for major newspapers and magazines throughout the English speaking world.
Together with colleague and photographer Andy Chant he was the journalist who tracked down rock star Gary Glitter in Vietnam which led to the arrest of Glitter (Graham Gadd) on child sexual charges and his subsequent imprisonment.
When Glitter was released from jail in Vietnam, Drummond provided the information which led to his removal from Thailand, Hong Kong, and Thailand again where Drummond had followed him.
He has played a prominent role in the exposure of foreign child sexual abusers in Asia and his work in Thailand tended to veer more and more towards transnational crime created by modern communications and ease of transport resulting in the free flow of villains into South East Asia.
From 2011 onwards Andrew Drummond was the subject of multiple SLAPP* court criminal libel actions and Thai Computer Crime Act libel actions brought by two convicted criminals who had decided to base themselves in Thailand.
He successfully fought off a number of cases, winning 3 and having several others dismissed but actually losing just one for allowing a poster on his site to describe a man who used to run a brothel in Melbourne as a ‘pimp’ – this despite producing the Australian Securities and Investment Commission documents proving the man’s occupation. He was subject to a small fine and suspended sentence.
However in late 2014 he received a threat from ‘boiler room’ operators (share fraudsters) in Bangkok. Although he had received threats before he felt was forced to take this one seriously as it would have a direct affect on his three children. He departed Thailand and returned to the UK via Cambodia and Vietnam after covering his last murder case, that of backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge after which amid some controversy two young Burmese were sentenced to death.
He continues to write from the U.K.
*SLAPP A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. (Wiki)
British Journalist Quits Thailand After Threat By Foreign Criminals – The Guardian
Veteran Journalist To Leave Thailand Amid Safety Fears
Drummond is irreplaceable – Phuketwan