From ANDREW DRUMMOND,
Bangkok, March 26 2012
The President of ‘The Grey Man’ an Australian registered charity has resigned two months after the charity was exposed on this site for ‘hyping’ a rescue of 21 Akha hill tribe children in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand.
Sean McBride, also known as John Curtis, made the announcement after Lindsay Murdoch the Bangkok based foreign correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age himself embarked on an investigation into the charity’s work in Thailand.
Last year The Grey Man, whose ‘operatives here’ are blacked out even more than the kids, claimed that all these children were rescued from sexual slavery or forced labour and were in one of their ‘safe houses’
Prior to being exposed on this site for hyping a rescue in Baan Khun Suay, Chiang Rai, to enhance donations the ‘Grey Man’ had received glowing reports in Australia, notably in the Sydney Morning Herald, and on the ABC documentary strand ‘Australian Story’.
But we went to the village and found practically all of them within half an hour by doing just what they did – asking the village headman to call them together
Australians heard how Grey Man ‘operatives’, all said to be special forces or police, dodged bullets and even hand grenades. The Australian media seemed reluctant to question rge veracity of their reports and they even achieved local hero status. In January we put the story to ‘The Australian’ which front paged it while softening some of the harder allegations.
Akha and the Grey Man video
But two Fairfax correspondents had previously had complaints from ex-members of ‘The Grey Man’ organization and Lindsay Murdoch took a second look.
The charity will continue with a former policeman as its president. But it still has to do considerable PR work with Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations, before it can function properly in the country again. The ‘Grey Man’ has also had trouble in Cambodia where there are many, perhaps even a surfeit of charities working in this field.
AFP policewoman attends DSI headquarters to listen to complaints from DSI
McBride’s resignation will go part of the way to solving the charity’s problems. While he promised to shoot down allegations made against him, he has not done so. But he still insists that he saved the Akha kids in Baan Khun Suay from the sex slave trade, or forced child labour in factories.
The Grey Man report
Replying to questions from Lindsay Murdoch he appears to still insist the Akha were rescued despite the fact that they have not missed a day at school – except for Akha festivals – which is paid for by the Thai government.