Activist challenges Thai police claims

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A Spalding human rights activist has filed a complaint accusing Thai police of pressuring him into signing a confession that allegations he made against a local canning company were untrue.

Andy Hall has lodged the complaint accusing Bang Na police of malfeasance – and has also informed the National Human Rights Commission and the British Embassy about the two suits filed against him by Natural Fruits Co Ltd.

Mr Hall, who could be ordered to pay the company 300 million baht in compensation if found guilty, said his lawyer was preparing a counter-complaint against Bang Na police for failing to properly investigate the allegations lodged against him by Natural Fruits.

He said Bang Na police had tried to get him to sign a confession without a proper English translation, which was an abuse of the justice process.

Natural Fruits filed a lawsuit against Mr Hall in February, accusing him of violating the Computer Crime Act by disseminating his research, commissioned by Finnwatch, which alleged migrant labour abuses at its factory.

The company then filed a defamation complaint against Mr Hall last month, accusing him of broadcasting false information about Natural Fruits.

Mr Hall said: “The claims in question relate to an interview I gave to Al Jazeera in Myanmar. This case should not be within the jurisdiction of Thai police, so they had no right to call me for questioning.”

From the start, Mr Hall has insisted he is innocent – and in a recent trip to Spalding enlisted the support of local MP John Hayes after challenging the British Government to support his case.

He said: “The meeting was really helpful. Mr Hayes promised urgent action and response and a meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from them.”

British Embassy officials in Bangkok are aware of the case and have been in regular contact with Mr Hall, providing him with “appropriate consular advice”.

The European Union (EU) is negotiating a free trade agreement with Thailand, with the issue of workers’ rights a continuing concern in all factories exporting goods to Europe.

A spokesman said: “The case is between two private parties and is now before a Thai court

“The EU will continue to follow the trial with full respect for the independence of the Thai judicial system.”