Friday, 21 August 2015

Pattaya 2nd August 2015

Andrew Drummond - Convicted again.

The Thai Region 2 Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal filed by fugitive Andrew Drummond and confirmed Pattaya Provincial Court made no error when it convicted Drummond in February 2014 of  criminal defamation.

In a decision that is expected to cause great concern for many web site administrators, the Court of Appeal found that web site owners can  be held responsible for defamatory comments by posters, even if the posters cannot be located or identified.

Pattaya Court had previously convicted Drummond, who defended the case on the basis that he was a 'journalist doing his job' but in sentencing Drummond the Court said:

'(*translation) The Defendant's occupation is as a journalist but he must only publish the truth'.

This follows a decision by the Court of Appeal in Bangkok confirming the defamation conviction of Thai Day website administrator for publishing comments made by media mogul Sondhi Limongkul.

Drummond, currently on the run with at least five outstanding arrest warrants, did not appear at the reading of the appeal, and the time to lodge any further appeal to the Supreme Court has now expired and as such the decision is final.

Drummond currently has outstanding arrest warrants in cases filed by Drew Noyes, Brian Goudie and Hanks. The new cases Drummond faces have been brought not only in relation to defamation, but aloso under Thailand's Computer Crimes Act.

Drummond site - Blocked!
Drummond's site has already been blocked by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).

In the current case, Drummond was convicted in February of 2014 in a case filed by Drew Noyes and David Hanks, and jailed for four months and fined the equivalent of GBP 800. The jail sentence was suspended for 2 years. Drummond later appealed on the basis that he did not personally make the comment that referred to Hanks and Noyes as a 'pimp'.

At trial, Drummond had alleged that a third party 'Tony' had posted the comment and as such he was not personally guilty of any offence.

In a lengthy decision three judges of the Region 2 Court of Appeal said

(translation)* 'it is clear from the evidence that 'Tony' was the poster of the defamatory statement but both Plaintiffs filed the case on the basis that the Defendant (sic Andrew Drummond) was the owner of the website and allowed others to post comments and therefore the Defendant had the intention to allow third parties to post illegal comments'.

The Court in dismissing the appeal and confirming Drummond's conviction said:

(translation)* 'the Defendant was the owner of the web site and knew that 'Tony' was the person who had posted the comment but the Defendant failed to answer the charge that he did not delete the defamatory comments. The Court of First Instance found that the Defendant had aided and abetted the posting of the defamatory comments by allowing a third party to post on the website according to document No. 4 and therefore the Court of Appeal dismisses the appeal.
In a long week in the Courts, a case filed against David Hanks by the DSI  was dismissed and Hanks has sent a clear warning that a swathe of defamation cases can be expected.

Hanks - bloggers beware!
In what is thought to be a sign of things to come three web sites have already deleted material related to Noyes, Hanks and Goudie, being Sub Zero Siam Prachathai and Isaan 50 - at least 15 other web sites, 2 Thai Newspapers and Five UK newspapers are said to  have also been put on notice.

Of the three, Isaan 50 had previously carried dozens of articles linking to Drummond's blog, but all of the material has now been deleted - the three speculate out of fear of prosecution after seeing that Drummond had been convicted and subsequently absconded.

Hanks said today:

' We are very happy with this decision. Web site owners, newspapers and bloggers beware - the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal have made it clear that if you write anything that is not true, or let a third party post or use defamatory words on your website or post defamatory comments under Thai law you can be prosecuted and following this decision will be convicted and face jail'.

UPDATE:

Lawyers for Hanks have stated they will go back to Court to have Drummond's suspended sentence revoked and have sentenced to an immediate jail term due to an unspecified breach of the Court decision.

Drummond has repeatedly stated he will return to Thailand, but would of course be immediately taken into custody at any Thai border crossing.

Sources say Drummond would face an uphill battle to be bailed before trial as he absconded whilst on bail, has failed to comply with two Court orders and has failed to appear in at least five other cases in which he has outstanding arrest warrants.

#andrewdrummond #allycooper

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