Thai court dismisses defamation case against UK activist

 

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The Independent Online

A Bangkok court has dismissed a defamation charge against a British human rights worker, who is being sued after alleging labour abuses in Thailand’s tinned fruit industry.

The court ruled that the prosecution of Andy Hall was unlawful because the police acted alone and not in partnership with the attorney general, as required for offences committed outside the country.

The case related to an interview Mr Hall gave to Al Jazeera in Burma last year. Natural Fruit Company launched the legal action against Mr Hall following his research into the firm, which detailed trafficking of migrant workers, child labour, forced overtime and violence against staff.

Mr Hall, who turns 35 today, still faces three more criminal and civil defamation cases brought by the Natural Fruit Company, which exports tinned pineapple and juice. If found guilty, he could face up to seven years in prison and be forced to pay millions of pounds in damages. The second, a $10m (£6m) civil defamation case, begins today.

Mr Hall said: “I always felt confident that I would win my case. I don’t feel I did anything wrong. I feel it’s my duty to protect migrant workers and I never had any doubt,” he told The Independent.

Phil Robertson, a Thailand spokesman for Human Rights Watch, said the case “leaves a chilling effect on others wishing to investigate corporate rights-abusing behaviour in Thailand”.

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