Oh dear, is this a familar story or what? A few years down the line I publish a story in the UK about the activities of two characters in the sex trade down in Pattaya known as the 'Gay MacMafia" . Later the Bangkok Post asked if I could re-write a piece for them which I did. When they subsequently sued in the local courts in Pattaya I was confident. The story was well documented and we had the support of the victims.
At the time I was the correspondent for 'The London Times'. I remember having to call from Ashgabad in Turkmenistan to inform their lawyers I could not attend one hearing. 'No problem', he said, 'You're not needed'.
In Ashgabad best friend Stuart from Serious Organised Crime Agency, 'First Secretary'Turkmenistan Foreign Affair Liaison, and Kazak 'First Secretary' and self suffering from several days on 'Red Army Vodka'
I lived for another week on on a diet of vodka and Russian salad supported by Russian, British, Kazak spooks and their Ministry of Foriegn Affairs, who thought I was one too, and returned to crashing reality in Bangkok.
What the Bangkok Post lawyer did not tell me, nor did the editors, was that they really could not be bothered defending a foreigner and had sold out to the plaintiffs, and on my return I found myself fighting the case alone. with the Bangkok Post apologising to a foreigner you would not even give the time of day to back home.
What followed next would in most societies by a physical impossibility, the newspaper publisher, editor and features editor were acquitted while I was convicted.
Meanwhile in the civil case (there were two criminal cases) the Bangkok Post lawyers were representing me either forgot to or deliberately did not enter my witness list. When I turned up at the court the judge said I could not have any witnesses.
The long story is that I eventually won the criminal cases on appeal and managed to support myself on a whip round from London which raised nearly US$10,000. Ironically one of the most senior members of the Bangkok Post later turned up at the FCCT to talk to the assembled throng about 'Investigative Journalism'. It was a question of 'pass the sick bag alice.'
It was also a test of friendship. The Bangkok Post failed, not that of course that they care in the slightest. Now read Erika Fry's story below and on the link
Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles. In 2009, I spent a hot December day in the Land of Smiles, in jail. Initially, this seemed mildly amusing and novel'Thai jail, the brown jumpsuits, the rattle of shackles. I assumed I'd be there five minutes.
I passed the rest of the day (not smiling!) in alternating states of resignation, panic, and fury, slouched against the wall with a ration of pork skin on rice, or at peak agitation, with my face pressed between the cell bars for fresh air and a glimpse of my lawyer, Ronnachai, who was supposed to be bailing me out.
I was charged with criminal defamation, a consequence of reporting in the Bangkok Post that a Thai official had been accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation on organic asparagus. He also had allegedly stolen intellectual property and misused his agency's funds to hire the organic asparagus researchers'mild but embarrassing treachery made relevant given his position as director of the National Innovation Agency (NIA), a Thai state enterprise that manages intellectual property. He had done more elaborate things'absurd but largely documented'to cover it all up, like manipulating immigration documents and work permits and making threats against his accuser, a British agricultural consultant named Wyn Ellis.