PHUKET – A lawyer has withdrawn a criminal defamation case against a British BBC journalist involving a report on foreigners being defrauded of property, the BBC reports.
The case against Jonathan Head, BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, began Wednesday.
“The plaintiff has withdrawn his case against BBC journalist Jonathan Head, but as the trial of his co-defendant is continuing, we cannot comment further at present,” the BBC said in a statement later.
Mr Head had reported about a British expatriate whose Thai wife allegedly defrauded him of properties on the southern resort island of Phuket by forging his signature on multiple occasions.
The criminal complaint against Head and the expatriate, Ian Rance, was brought by lawyer Pratuan Thanarak, who said he was defamed by an allegation in the report that he had notarized Mr Rance’s forged signature, allowing the wife to transfer properties.
Mr Pratuan’s complaint said the BBC report caused the public to perceive him as a “deceitful lawyer” and “an unethical lawyer”.’
In February, the American-based Committee to Protect Journalists called for an end to the use in Thailand of criminal defamation charges against journalists.
“The use of criminal defamation complaints in Thailand has a chilling effect on journalists who fear being bogged down in time-consuming and expensive litigation,” Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, said in a statement.
The Associated Press