Classifieds 50% off, use promo code FBkpkPromo The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News Phuket News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

BBC journalist faces five years jail for Thailand reporting

PHUKET: A British journalist with the BBC faces up to five years in a Thai jail after a lawyer brought a criminal defamation case against him over an investigation into fraud on a popular tourist island.

property, crime, corruption,


Thursday 23 February 2017, 05:58PM

BBC Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head was called to defend allegations of defamation in Phuket Provincial Court today (Feb 23).
BBC Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head was called to defend allegations of defamation in Phuket Provincial Court today (Feb 23).

Rights groups say the case is the latest example of how Thailand’s broad defamation and computer crime laws shut down investigative journalism and make it difficult to expose wrongdoing in a country where corruption is endemic.

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 appeared in Phuket Provincial Court today (Feb 23) alongside one of the retirees, British national Ian Rance who is a joint defendant in the prosecution, to enter their plea.

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 local woman with whom he had three children and bought what he said were some $1.2 million (more than B40mn) worth of properties.

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

In 2010 Mr Rance discovered his wife had forged his signature to remove him as director and sell the properties with the help of a network of money lenders and property agents on the island.

C and C Marine

She was jailed for four years over the scam.

The BBC’s Head reported that Pratuan, the lawyer, admitted to notarising Rance’s signature without him being present.

Mr Pratuan 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. Head faces an additional charge under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act, which has a five-year maximum jail penalty.

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

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



The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
    Forget your password?

Eagle | 24 February 2017 - 15:59:43

Kurt,it took me only a few minutes research on the internet to find out that BBC reporter are not always honest and non corrupted as you said.Also you can find reports by the BBC,which were very bad investigated.So dont think that BBC journalists are always right,although it might be in this case.

The Phuket News

Jor12 | 24 February 2017 - 11:56:12

Kurt...defamation laws are prevalent in all civilised countries. In uncivilsed countries they just chop your head off regardless. Just because this clown khun Head reported an alleged set of facts doesnt make it right hence the action being taken. It's a bit like the commentating clowns on PN who say anything with no substance in fact.

The Phuket News

Kurt | 24 February 2017 - 10:30:42

Thailand's way of thinking about 'defamation', which is actually a way to silence people, probably still works internal  ( thai-thai).
However, when international parties get dragged into it it is not working.
( see the outcome that thai pine apple fruit company case)
It is time Thailand realize that international journalism is not adjusting to thai local thinking.
Thailand, now a member AEC, has to open up, think more international.
Thai Courts should consider not accept blindly defamation cases involving international parties.
It can work out contra productive for Thailand's image.

Why attract worldwide attention about thai fraud?
Specially when it concerns a case in which one thai woman has been jailed 4 years for scam.
Was the thai lawyer Pratuan her lawyer during that scam affair?

The Phuket News

Eagle | 24 February 2017 - 10:21:44

Maybe some people should be more careful now with their comments.

The Phuket News

ematt | 24 February 2017 - 10:16:52

Simon, this is not really a " Phuket" issue. The Thai defamation laws are extremely broad, and have been for a very long time. By Western standards they do severely limit what we think of as free speech. They have also long been used to stifle the press. 

It might be helpful to keep in mind that the vast majority of defamation cases are filed by Thai citizens against other Thai citizens - politicians of course do this all the time. I too would like to see freer speech in Thailand, but as I am a guest here I do hesitate to criticise. 

I would observe however that the whole notion of freedom of speech is simply not valued in this culture as highly as it is in the west, whereas conversely the importance of polite speech is valued much more highly here than it is in the west. It is actually a criminal act to denigrate someone publicly here, whereas in the west one would have to file a civil action and proved damages. 

I don't think any part the defamation law, or the enforcement of it, is based on "image". It is just a very long standing part of the culture.

The Phuket News

Kurt | 24 February 2017 - 09:33:23

BBC journalists are well known for having good and honest reports/investigations.
Always check and double check. They are honest and non corrupted.
This is going to become a case in which this thai Lawyer Pratuan his 'Waterloo' finds.
All his doings as a thai lawyer in mentioned case will be studied now by the thai court.
Thai Court walks on egs with this case.. BBC will report fully world wide.
Guess BBC is coming up with a counter file as well.
If the thai Court is smart than they return Mr Head's passport to him.
Thailand can not keep him hostage 2 years or so in their slow justice processing.

The Phuket News

Belzybob | 24 February 2017 - 06:35:17

Its not just rights groups that express concerns about a country where corruption is endemic.

The Phuket News

Andy | 24 February 2017 - 02:40:39

It really is time I started looking for somewhere else to live. 
I think we all need to read again  the famous quote by Martin Niemoller.

The Phuket News

simon01 | 23 February 2017 - 20:37:48

Oh well yet another great move to boost phukets image. Not the scam, fraud and the rest as thats common knowledge. But the fact that some one reports on it and the reporter is treated this way. Normal places the trial may take years BUT the person can keep his passport and keep working. We all know how screwed up the Thai legal system is with paperwork and 1,000s of people pushing papers around so it takes weeks to do a one day job. BUT now if this reporter is innocent of bad reporting then it proves that the fraud is rife. if he is locked up then it will give phuket a bad name anyway. This is just insane as phukets image can not come out clean no matter what happens. 

The Phuket News
Matches 9 result(s)
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments

Areas in Phuket Town to have water shut off tomorrow

Kurt,no Internet for 10 hours. OMG.Must have been the worst day of their life....(Read More)

Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Kurt,just curious.How much does the TA of Singapore paying you for your permanent mentioning/promoting of Singapore?...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: You have our full support

In Thailand governors are not elected, but appointed. They are not locals and therefore, do not really care about the problems in the location they ha...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: You have our full support

"The Phuket News, and the whole of Class Act Media, will support a plan to make a change." so what should the plan be??...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: You have our full support

Well written and exactly true, maybe you have more influence than us expats so maybe you can get a Thai person to write it up and send it to the gover...(Read More)

Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

@KURT: Dude, come on, a light rail down Nanai Road? I'm sorry but that has to be the craziest thing I've ever heard. Have you even seen Nanai ...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: You have our full support

Here here PN! I am of the opinion that the only things these reckless people are going to pay any attention to is money. Stiff fines for reckless dr...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: You have our full support

It will be interesting to see if any member of the "muffet" gang disagree with this article, as they seem to disagree when us mere mortals s...(Read More)

Phuket Police formally charge British boyfriend for death of Sophie Anderson

It would not be hard to stop this problem with unlicensed riders on motorbikes, which the majority of tourists are Make it compulsory for motorbike r...(Read More)

Phuket Police formally charge British boyfriend for death of Sophie Anderson

What is wrong with the police in Thailand? They never enforce the hundreds of misdemeanours on the roads every day day, but when there is an accident ...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
Weird World
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.