Thai court victory for Drummond

Drummond: feels he has turned the corner

The Times ‘ Thailand stringer, Andrew Drummond, has seen off a contempt of court prosecution brought in Thailand over comments reported on UK news websites which could have seen him jailed for seven years.

It is a major victory for the freelance in what has become a long-running and financially crippling legal battle with two Scottish businessmen dubbed the Gay MacMafia.

Drummond was initially sued by James Lumsden and Gordon May over stories which appeared in the Bangkok Post, also reported in several UK publications, which detailed their alleged involvement in fraud and the death of an investor in one of their sex clubs.

He is currently appealing against two criminal libel convictions which resulted in two suspended jail terms and an £800 fine.

Lumsden also launched contempt of court proceedings against Drummond over comments reported on the Media Guardian website, and therefore potentially readable in Thailand, which the journalist made after his criminal libel conviction in July.

A Thai judge has now ruled there was insufficient evidence of contempt to proceed. But Drummond remains under threat of jail because Lumsden’s lawyer is trying to get one suspended six-month sentence changed into imprisonment.

Drummond has received another boost in his legal battle with news that Thailand’s new Department of Special Investigations is to look into Lumsden and May’s business activities and their nightclubs: Boyz Boyz Boyz, Throb and Splash.

News of the investigation came in an e-mail response to an inquiry from Drummond’s union, the British Association of Journalists.

Drummond said: “I feel I am turning the corner in this so far debilitating battle. I have already been interviewed, as have several other witnesses.

“I am extremely grateful to those organisations and editors who have supported me. They came up trumps, even editors of papers to which I do not correspond.”

BAJ general secretary Steve Turner said: “Andrew is standing up for the finest ideals of journalism. He has suffered serious financial problems as a result of fines, legal fees, incidental legal costs and loss of earnings. He and his family have also suffered a lot of anguish, not knowing whether he might be jailed or deported. These things could still happen to him”

APPEAL FUND

A £30,000 appeal fund, set up by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Thailand to pay for Drummond’s court costs, has so far raised £8,500.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund should make a cheque payable to Andrew Drummond Fund and send it to Drummond Appeal, c/o Costas Paris, President of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand, at HSBC Bank, 123 Chancery Lane, London, WC2 A 1 QH. The number 400207 11437194 should be put on the back of the cheque.

By Dominic Ponsford

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