Connect with us

Phuket

BBC journalist faces jail in Phuket defamation case

Published

 on 

PHUKET: A British journalist with the BBC faces up to five years in a Phuket prison after a lawyer brought a criminal defamation case against him over a fraud investigation.

The prosecution was sparked by a September 2015 report by Jonathan Head, the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, looking at how two foreign retirees were scammed out of their properties in Phuket.

Mr Head today appeared in a Phuket court alongside one of the retirees, British national Ian Rance, who is a joint defendant in the prosecution. Both pleaded not guilty.

The man bringing the prosecution is Pratuan Thanarak, a Phuket lawyer who featured in the BBC’s report looking at how Mr Rance lost lucrative properties.

Mr Rance retired to Phuket in 2001, married a Thai woman with whom he had three children, and bought what he said were about US$1.2 million worth of properties.

Under Thai law, foreigners cannot own land, but many supposedly get around that provision by placing properties in the name of a company they own or with a Thai they trust.

In 2010, Mr Rance said he discovered that his wife had forged his signature to remove him as director and sold the properties with the help of a network of money lenders and property agents in Phuket.

She was jailed for four years over the scam.

Mr Head reported that Mr Pratuan had admitted to notarizing Mr Rance’s signature without him being present. The lawyer filed a defamation case alleging the reports caused him to be ‘defamed, insulted or hated’, according to a copy of the complaint seen by AFP.

Mr Rance and Mr Head face one charge of criminal defamation, which carries up to two years in jail. Mr Head faces an additional charge under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

Mr Head has had to surrender his passport to the court, leaving him unable to work across Asia as he fights what could be a two-year court battle.

In a statement, the BBC said it “stands by its journalism” and that “[we] intend to clear the name of our correspondent.”

Unlike most countries where defamation is a civil crime, in Thailand it is a criminal offense. Rights groups say the case exposes how Thailand’s broad defamation and computer crime laws scupper investigative journalism and make it difficult to expose wrongdoing.

Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, said the case against Mr Head and Mr Rance showed “exactly why having criminal defamation laws is such a bad idea”, adding that the powerful can “engage in a game of legal blood sport by dragging people through the Thai court system.”

— The Nation

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism8 mins ago

Europeans lost in Koh Pha Ngan forest found by tourist police

Chon Buri32 mins ago

Mountain B fire death toll rises to 16

Bangkok59 mins ago

MRT says Bangkok won’t suffer any Seoul-type metro flooding

Sponsored5 hours ago

LASIK eye surgery with state-of-the-art procedures in Thailand

Politics59 mins ago

Exiled Sri Lanka president expected to arrive in Thailand tomorrow

Northern Thailand1 hour ago

Tourists can see rare orchids in bloom at northern Thailand waterfall this month

Tourism2 hours ago

StyleCation: latest TAT campaign aims at young domestic tourists

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand to consider Chinese engines for S26T Yuan submarine

Weather3 hours ago

Tropical storm ‘Mulan’ to hit several provinces of Thailand between August 11-13

Pattaya3 hours ago

Pattaya’s tourist busses are back at the floating market, but missing Chinese

Phuket4 hours ago

TikTok post accuses Phuket restaurant of unfair, unlisted prices

Krabi4 hours ago

Whale shark washed up on a Krabi beach in Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand introduces fine for not wearing seat belt in the back seat

Eastern Thailand4 hours ago

Baby’s birthday party turns violent in eastern Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand’s new narcotics laws offers drug offenders treatment

Thailand5 hours ago

Toad travels from Thailand to Wales in student’s suitcase

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending