BBC South East Asia Correspondent Jonathan Head and two foreigners, who were massively being defrauded in Thailand, are being sued by one of Thailand’s infamous bent lawyers for libel under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

Head, also the President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (2014-5), is being sue over a report of the fraud of Briton Ian Rance, who with Irishman Colin Vard featured on the BBC website and in a short documentary on BBC2.

Vard is being sued seperately by a lawyer he named, one of many people involved in the systematic stripping of his assets.

These are yet more outrageous court case brought against foreigners under an act which carries a penalty of seven years in jail and to which truth alone is not a defence. The defendants must prove public interest.

The frauds against Rance and Vard however reflect not only on bent lawyers in Thailand but also on police, money lenders and even banks who were in on the scams.

Both Vard and Rance had Thai wives who needed, as ifs often the case, a little extra cash. Both were instructed how they could do it in Phuket by using their husbands’ title deeds to obtain loans and forging signatures.  All the properties of these two men were sold from under them. Vard lost seven properties worth 2 million Euros and Rance lost a similar amount. The frauds could not have been done without the lawyers,

Colin and his daughter Jessie 18 months ago demonstrated outside the Royal Thai Police last June. Police General Somyot Pumpunmuan the outgoing Police Commissioner ordered an immediate investigation and promised the matter would be cleared up within 3 months.  It wasn’t.

Promises – after Bangkok demonstration, Colin Vard centre – facing camera

The current cases relate to a Phuket lawyer who notarised Ian Rance’s forged signature on a property document.

Computer Crime Cases can go on for years. So many were brought against me in fact that for a time I claimed to have been the world’s most sued reporter as crooks operating out of Thailand used the Computer Crime Act to initiate the SLAPP* cases which the plaintiff does not necessarily care if he wins or not.

Prior to arriving in Thailand after 18 years in journalism I had never been close to a libel court.

The point of SLAPP cases is to neutralise and break one’s opponent by hitting him both financially and rendering them unable to work. Plaintiffs will frequently not turn up for cases but nevertheless get the courts to keep them going.  Thai courts are among the most pliable in the world.

In my case I had to turn down many assignments out of Thailand over a 3 year period.  I successfully defended all but one. The remainder now look as if they will all be dismissed as the plaintiffs Brian Goudie, a Scot from Falkirk, and Drew Noyes, an American from Wilmington Virginia, have both been sentence to jail terms.  Goudie, was jailed for three years for cheating an old woman out of just under, US$300,000. Noyes was given two years for extortion.  Both had posed as lawyers in Pattaya.

Head confronts lawyer (this picture and top)

Jonathan Head had confronted Rance’s Phuket lawyer asking him to explain why he notarised a fake signature.  The lawyer did not have an answer and waved the camera away.

Forged signature

Vard claimed he was physically attacked in Bangkok by a former lawyer there.  Police took the lawyer’s side.

With millions at stake and the reputation of Thailand on the line if a proper investigation were to be made Colin Vard says he has received multiple death threats.

Both Colin and Ian are being sued by Phuket lawyers. The legal system and corrupt practices have deprived them of everything,  Last month as Somyot’s promises went unfulfilled Colin Vard was having difficulty even housing his family.

To read more details of his case go here

It is not yet clear how far the BBC will back Jonathan Head. These cases can take years.

SLAPP*  Strategic lawsuit against public participation

Justice for Jessie


Defrauded by my wife and criminals in Thailand BBC


  1. It's clear the current junta have made no real attempt to tackle corruption or reform the police, legal system beyond clipping the wings of some prominent policemen.

    Plus ça change…

  2. Bringing a case against a BBC reporter, perhaps Rance and Vard are eager for international media exposure.

    Meanwhile the wee scrote Goudie (Goldie) is ranting to his 58 friends on Facebook that the UK are stiffening up the punishments for internet trolling.

    He doesn't mention revenge porn, but under UK law posting nude pictures of an old girlfriend also earns prison time.

    Is it safe for the wee scrote to return to the UK, and does he still have his passport if he wishes to do so?

    Please Andrew, keep us posted, we are all eager to here of how Goudie (convicted prisoner on more than one occasion) fairs the next time he faces a court judgement for crimes he is alleged to have commited.

    1. Well yes. Hearing set for next month – but are any of these cases genuine. Is that what you mean. Answer. Very few. Most would be laughed out of a western court if they ever got there. I was sued by a pimp for allowing a poster to call him a pimp. His argument. He was a nice pimp. The women were treated well. I had not commented on how the woman were treated.

    2. I'm interested because I think Colin's case may be running in parallel to my own, against the same people. In fact, I suspect that he is being used as a scapegoat to resolve their problem with my case, which seems a lot more solid than his argument about forged signatures. Like Colin is the weaker link that they are targeting. I have a complaint against the lawyer who handled my case lodged with the Law Society in Bangkok over a misreported sum of money during the case. The Law society have postponed our meetings twice now, knowing that I have travelled from the UK specifically for the appointments that they scheduled. I am beginning to get the feeling the delays are deliberate, but I'm not sure what the intention is behind it. The only comment I got was that they hoped the lawyer and I would have settled by the time we next meet in March. So, it's not entirely hostile but not entirely helpful either.
      I'm interested because I think Colin is linked to the lawyer I am complaining about. I'm wondering if the defamation case is part of the campaign to encourage Colin to be more collaborative and less singular, as the Law Society seem to be suggesting.

  3. I am being charged with Criminal Defamation by the Bangkok-elite family that developed and own the Yacht Haven Marina in Phuket, the Phataraprasits. The condo project was started in 1996, units were sold off-plan. 25 buyers paid deposits according to contract. The contract stated full repayment if they didn't deliver. They failed to deliver and 20 years later we are still awaiting repayment. This is despite winning a court case which ordered the repayment.

    It is obviously my public duty to make this information known so that any potential future buyers know about this previous matter with the Phataraprasits.

    I am warned that should I set foot in Thailand I will be arrested (for telling the truth). I have posted on Twitter, Facebook and created a blog – also there have been press releases to the yachting community.

    David Haines

  4. David, I understand what you are saying and I do recognize that my complaint could be postponed indefinitely. On the surface though, I am giving them what they want, a complaint against a pro-Thaksin lawyer.So, it seems their reasons for delaying are more complex. It just seems they are hanging in the balance…not hostile, not helpful, but stuck. Because of the connection between Andrew Drummond, Colin Vard, the policeman called 'John' at Chalong, and my ex-lawyer, I'm sure the "hanging in the balance" is all about Colin and the defamatation case. I just can't figure it out and Colin isn't giving me much to go on.

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