Andrew Spooner responds


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47 thoughts on “Andrew Spooner responds

  1. Here here, excellent response! Andrew Spooner, thanks for putting this much ignored topic in the public eye.
    As a long term resident of Thailand I'm constantly amazed at how foreigners become so Thai in that they refuse to accept even the slightest criticism of Thailand, even when it's blatantly true and backed up by hard facts. Thailand is a very nice country but he truth remains that it's also a dangerous place to live. Has anyone got the figures for the number of all foreigners who are killed in Thailand annually? It would be interesting to see how they stack up with other countries.

  2. The information is out there in the public domain. Andrew Spooner's story doesn't really say anthing new or anything that isn't a fact. Sure – it does bring everything together and puts it into the media spotlight, but that's his job.

    Without the input from the victims family would the story have been published? That's what holds this story together. Like it or not, based on the simple facts, Thailand is a relatively dangerous place to live. However, I personally feel the story is far from balanced – and that not be Andrew's fault as he said that his story was edited to exclude what might have been comments to balance the story. Why not speak to some of the thousands of people here who live a trouble-free life? Why? Because it doesn't make good copy. I know that (from 18+ years in the media) and so does the writer.
    Anyway, I'd finally like to thank Andrew for commenting publically. I find it refreshing and welcome when a writer is able to comment publically and defend his story. Well done Sir.

  3. Well, alot of people live a trouble-free life in Thailand until that one day when they get run over by a bus. That's the issue. The problem is that it's alot easier to point out these kinds of risks than it is to solve them. The only practical response to this article is to reduce personal risk, such as: 1) own a car, rather than a motorbike if you have to have one or the other 2) live in an area will less traffic 3) take mass transit rather than using motorbike taxis 4) don't stay out after 3 am, and avoid being around armed, drunk Thais in karaoke bars, etc.

  4. I fully agree with Matt and disagree entirely with Andrew. What Andrew has failed to grasp, is the state of a lot of Brits who come to Thailand. Unlike Kenya or the Vatican, Thailand often gets the worst kind of British tourists under the sun.
    A lot come here, get intoxicated day-in-day out (gets mouthy with local Thai guys, gets murdered) get married with dodgy bar girls (typical: wife kills Brit scenario). Gets invlolved in illegal business (gets killed by competitor) etc…

    Thailand has a high murder rate and some obnoxious Brits who come should realize that before getting themselves in dangerous situations.

    Absolutely, as a journalist myself, i'm sick and tired of the relentless sensationalist reporting about Thailand done by Western reporters who can't think of anything lese to write about.

  5. This was my email to Andrew:

    Perhaps my point of view is a little lopsided. The way I see things, Thailand has a problem with violent crime and murder, but it's something I see every day, along with the reports of foreigners being attacked or murdered. It's in every newspaper and isn't something that's hidden from the public domain.

    However, you have to take into account the sort of people who come to Thailand. Thailand attracts a lot of shady characters and many people come here without understanding the country, doing things they wouldn't do back home and ending up in trouble. Really, the government should tell people, "Don't be an idiot when you travel to Thailand," or, "Use common sense — in all countries."

    Although you had figures to back up your story, I felt that the statement you made that read, "…the 'Land of Smiles' is one of the most dangerous places on earth for … British residents" was more of a technicality than anything.

    Furthermore, Thailand is clearly not one of the most dangerous places for UK visitors; it's just the place where more UK people go and end up getting killed. Again, you have to take into account the droves of people who come here and, often, the type of people they are and the things they do.

  6. Figures don't lie, so I don't think Andrew is making a sensation story out of it. But also, just blaming Thailand and the UK foreign office for not warning is a bit simple in my opinion.

    I would like to know how the figures are, compared to other nationalities. In his reaction, Andrew says: "I did state that Thailand is a safe place for the vast majority of tourists". Then why is it so dangerous for Britions? I tend to strongly agree with the reaction of Stephen Cleary, here above.

    Thailand is very popular by Dutch tourists, but I could find only accounts of two Dutch murdered in Thailand.

    One was a businessman, murdered by the lover of his (Thai) wife, the other one was a well known criminal, executed by his former "friends". Both things are not unusual in The Netherlands.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's the Britons own faults to get murdered in Thailand, but I just wonder if there are other explanations for the high number of murdered Britons.

  7. Some more thoughts:

    It was on one of these trips that Charnaud met Laoruang. "Apparently she was working as a security guard in a department store," says his sister, Hannah.

    What is this "apparently"? Why doesn't the story say explicitly what she was, which I think I'm right in saying was a bar girl? This "apparently" suggests that he kept the truth from his family.

    While there is no suggestion that Charnaud was in any way involved in this world – "Toby could never be called a sex tourist," says Hannah, "I can't imagine he went to one strip club the whole time he was in Thailand, it just wasn't his style"

    How can you say that, based on a quote from a family member who wasn't with him during his time in Thailand and who would, of course, not want to think of a dead relative as involved in a seedy underworld? If he married a prostitute then he was involved in this "world".

    What if he picked up a girl in a bar, married her and started a family? What's the lesson to be learned. "Don't marry bar girls and lie about it to your family?" This is the dark side of Thailand and it is well known. You play with fire, sometimes it burns you.

    If tourists started going to Columbia and hanging out with local drug barons, I expect you could write a story about how dangerous Columbia is for UK visitors. However, when it comes to hanging out with drug barons, people seem to have more sense than when it comes to hanging out with Thai bar girls.

    Really, the only message here is that if you put yourself in dangerous situations you might end up paying a hefty price.

  8. Do you have anything to support that :

    However, you have to take into account the sort of people who come to Thailand. Thailand attracts a lot of shady characters and many people come here without understanding the country, doing things they wouldn’t do back home and ending up in trouble.

    Of all the people I have met in Bangkok and travelling around the coutnry very few were of the shady sort. I met students, backpacker, NGO workers, and the kind.

    It is as much a cliche as saying that Thailand is a wonderful place where everything is perfect.

    Now that people don't understand the country could be said of an Englishman crossing the channel and spending his holiday in rural France…

    It is all a bit more complex.

    ~r

  9. "Well, alot of people live a trouble-free life in Thailand until that one day when they get run over by a bus." – Dboy

    What is it with the Thai buses anyway? Why do they think act as if they do not have to slow down or stop for crossing peds? You would think public transit drivers would be trained to uphold a certain (higher) standard Generally speaking, it seems to me as if private Thai citizens and taxi drivers behave with far greater civility on the streets than the major bus companies.

  10. So now it is all clear to me. The girl taking a stroll on the beach two years ago who got viscously raped and murdered by the two Thai fishermen was actually to blame, not them. The girl who was beaten, robbed and burnt to death by a heroin taking monk in Kanchanaburi 10 years ago was equally to blame (presumably why he was released a year into his life sentence). And maybe that girl in Kanchanaburi last year who watched her boyfriend get shot dead by a pissed Thai policeman and then got run over several times by same policeman before being shot several times and killed was also in the wrong. Now I understand, Thais are ever wrong. It is in fact the Brits' fault for being in Thailand in the first place.

    Come on, lets get reasonable here. If the original article had said that more Brits are killed in the US than anywhere else none of you would have batted an eyelid. AND to get things into perspective check this out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence
    Thailand has the third highest level of firearm homicides in the world, almost ten times that of the US (per 100,000 of pop). These are UN stats by the way. Not bad for a peace loving utopia really.

  11. Thai visa reports an incident in Pattaya involving 3 Estonian and 15 Thai in a bar in Soi 15. I can't wait for comment saying that they were probably members of the "Russian Mafia" that is taking over the "Thai Mafia".

  12. "Thai visa reports an incident in Pattaya involving 3 Estonian and 15 Thai in a bar in Soi 15. I can’t wait for comment saying that they were probably members of the “Russian Mafia” that is taking over the “Thai Mafia”."

    More likely they were three guys who got into an argument with a doorman at a go-go bar…not a good idea anywhere. They didn't know the doorman's pals were waiting around eager to bash a few farangs.

  13. 17 Brits but you could also add on a few dozen or even 100 more other nationalities also murdered in the Land of smiles over the same period . dont forget the other nationalities ,theres no article to record their brutal deaths .

  14. "It was on one of these trips that Charnaud met Laoruang. “Apparently she was working as a security guard in a department store,” says his sister, Hannah."

    Just to clear up this point – they met years and years ago. One of the parties involved is dead the other is serving a life sentence. Suffice to say, asking the dead man's sister where he met his wife is as close to the truth as we'll get.

    While there is no suggestion that Charnaud was in any way involved in this world – “Toby could never be called a sex tourist,” says Hannah, “I can’t imagine he went to one strip club the whole time he was in Thailand, it just wasn’t his style”

    The point I make very clear in the article is that foreigners can't always decipher the dangers in Thailand. The couple shot and murdered in Kanchanaburi by the "friendly" local bar owning cop – he was smiling a lot and getting them drunk for a few nights before he shot them – is one such example.

    I also made the point in the piece (edited out) that Thailand attracts a lot of people who engage in risky behaviour. Thailand, to that end, is partly a victim of its own friendliness, letting in a various assortment of nasty characters. It must be pointed out that of the 17 murders mentioned in the piece only one or two seemed to have a criminal underworld connection.

    However, Toby Charnaud was a decent person. Every single person I spoke to about him said that. I spoke to a massive, wide range of people and Toby was not dodgy in any way whatsoever. His murder was a terrible and needless event that seemed to be driven purely by greed.

    As for Stephen Cleary's comment and I think this should be very clear to anyone who checks my publishing record – I have been writing positive stories FOR YEARS on Thailand. It really is his problem that he has failed to find them or read them. They've all been published in the national press in the UK and can be found on the Guardian or Independent websites. And I believe, because of that, my comments carry more weight. Just slagging me off without any basis cuts no ice and doesn't serve any purpose whatsoever.

    Finally, when I wrote this story every single Thai I spoke to was supportive of it. Many encouraged me and said I should write it telling me in private there was a problem that needed to be addressed. The only negative comments I have read so far have all come from ex-pats not Thais. TAT and the Thai govt knew I was writing the story and never once threatened me nor tried to warn me off.

    Once again, it must be said if the stats didn't add up the way they did there would be no story.

  15. Dear Andrew:

    I have spent much time today searching the Internet in both Thai and English language for the news and names of the 17 who have been murdered since 2003.

    Out of these 17, i have only been able to find news stories for about half that amount. This is quite surprising as every murdered Brit in Thailand is a big story. Same goes for the Thai language stories.

    Please could you give me the names of all 17 Brits who have been murdered since 2003, and a reliable source.

  16. In the time that it took you to think silly bleeding hearts, 2 kids under 12 in Thailand died of preventable viruses that were imported from Europe many decades ago. 17 Brits murdered? Such a big fuss from ex-pat patriots with hands over hearts and unwavering allegiance to the Queen? I am so sick of this look after our own attitude in all cultures. We're all dying here there and everywhere due to murder, disease and 'natural' causes too (like murder and disease isn't.) That it makes it into red white and black print simply highlights the callous attitude that we of baby boomer ilk take towards something so solemn and true.

    If you knew the murdered
    If you were personally affected
    You will understand the nature of death as a statistic
    If you didn't know them and were not moved by their histories intertwining with yours, then don't cheapen their story with your phony sympathy.

    Cheers big ears.

  17. Another quality post from an enamoured expat who adopts the name of an insect that annoys with its incessant and irritating noise as a pseudonym.

    How apposite.

    Bedwyr

  18. So do we blame unscrupulous Thais for taking advantage of naive Westerners or do we blame Westerners for being gullible? Andrew thinks that highlighting the problem will make visitors to LOS more careful. Or maybe he thinks articles in the Guardian will make the Thai police less corrupt? I think you could staple a list of dos and don'ts to said visitors with a nose-ring and it wouldn't make a dent in the statistics.

  19. In response to Stephen Cleary – the figure of 17 comes from the British Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Myself and the Charnauds requested the data from the FCO under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – if you're a British Citizen you can email them and they should respond with the document.
    The FCO's figure is based entirely on what the Thai Police tell them. If the Thai Police call it a murder then they must, under their diplomatic obligations, inform the British Embassy in Bangkok.
    So that figure of 17 is arrived at by the Thais, passed on one by one, over the years, to the British Embassy who then collate the final figure.

    To Chuck – my final deduction from all this (again edited out) is that mass tourism to far away places is causing some shocking and surprising results. I am not sure much can be done about it but the British Government does have a responsibility to its citizens to give them the correct information. What the citizens then chose to do with it is their responsibility.

    My final comment on this whole issue is this – most of the responses on blogs regarding my article seem to have been made by people who blatantly have not read the piece. It's actually quite amusing because the same people are then using my piece to sensationalise their own view point – they also have made no effort to read any of the dozens of positive pieces about Thailand I've written that they then claim journalists like me never write. You couldn't make this up!

  20. Andrew…one more kick at the can if I may. You have a vested interest in Thai tourism. I don’t. Perhaps you think an article in the Guardian and subsequent discussion on forums like this will make a difference. I don’t. I don’t think anything the British government says will help either. Am I cynical? Yes, I suppose I am. I’ve spent a lot of time in LOS and I still like it but the rose-tinted glasses are long gone. I think Westerners will keep getting in trouble there. I just can’t pin the blame on any one factor.

    I thought your perspective on Toby Charnaud was fair. Very nice guy. A little naïve though IMO.

  21. Bedwyr, I don't post much to be incessant. If you listen to Grasshoppers enough to find their noise irritating, perhaps you have hyper tension.

    I don't think Andrew Spooner's article was anything beyond normal to have this sort of attention directed towards it's legitimacy.

  22. Grasshopper – so why are you giving my article any attention then?
    And how could I possibly cover the whole range of murder and death across the whole planet, huge metaphysical issues certainly worthy of discussion, in the remit of a 2000 word magazine article in a Sunday newspaper??
    Maybe you, with all your evident wisdom, could show myself and the entire media industry a way around this perplexing conundrum?

  23. Here are 16 of the 17 with causes – there was one more but I can't track him down right now but I think it was Michael Butcher.

    Paul Mason February 2003 – stabbed by thai gf in BKK
    Michael Pitts April 2003 – cause unknown
    Robert Henry October 2003 – shot pattaya
    Arthur Green Feb 2003 – killed by intruders near Ratchaburi
    Terence Ramsey December 2003 – cause unknown
    Mark Lemetti August 2004 – by pak nat – south thailand
    Vanessa Arscott September 2004 – murdered by cop – kanchan
    Adam Lloyd September 2004 – murdered by cop – kanchan
    Bernard Le Court March 2005 – throat cut pattaya
    Richard Collins March 2005 – stabbed krabi
    Toby Charnaud May 2005 – wife near hua hin
    Debra O’Hanlon August 2005 – killed by brit bf
    James Hall December 2005 – shot by american in hua hin
    Katherine Horton January 2006 – fishermen – samui
    Mark Jones March 2006 – stabbed in back by father in law – isaan
    Steven Parkinson May 2006 – shot in pattaya

  24. 50 Brits are murdered abroad each year. Andrew has said an average of 10% are killed in Thailand. That means therefore, 5 a year in Thailand.

    His stats are from 2003 – now – that equals 5 years (2003,2004,2005,2006,2007).

    Andrew claims that 17 Brits have been murdered (not 3 as he claimed earlier) but in 5 years. If my maths are right that equals an average of 3.4 murders a year.

    So, nowhere near the 10% he has stated.

    That, in English is called 'Sensationalist Journalism'.

    I'm sorry Andrew, ill be blogging this – i have details of all the murders, your article etc….

  25. Well that last murder recorded was in May 2006, so no recorded murder of a Brit in Thailand for 20 months!

    That's what you can do with stats that are so low in number.

    IMHO, a ridiculous article that focusses on murder where the roads are far far more dangerous.

  26. he's given you 16 names from Feb 2003 to May 2006 which is 3 years and and 3 months or 3.25 years. include michael connolly and thats 17.

    17/3.25 = 5.23.

    that, in English is called 'Unsensationalist Journalism'.

    I'm sorry, but I hope Andrew blogs this.

  27. Right at the top of your article does it not say in bold?

    "At least 17 Britons have been murdered in Thailand since 2003 – including Toby Charnaud"

    2003- (=2003-now, right?)

    Only later in the article does it say 2003-2006.

    As for David's comment on Martin Connolly, he was murdered in 2007. Yes, i've commented him too in the 5 years – so, keeping the statistics up-to-date.

    I can't find anything on the Internet about Terence Ramsey and Michael Pitts, who died of unknown causes. How can 'cause unknown' mean murder?

  28. The whole article reads of indirectly blaming the Thais for all the murders with comments of 'maintaining a cool heart' etc..

    I've read into all the murders and here are my stats:

    There is no evidence that Terence Ramsey and Michael Pitts were murdered, so that leaves 16 (unless someone can find something on the Internet, you can prove me wrong).

    The only story i can find about Michael Butcher reveals that he was obviously killed in a car crash (the word 'Kah' in Thai can mean 'both murder' and 'untentionally kill'. Obviously something was lost in translation there and it was exaggerated to 'murder'). That was manslaughter at most. That leaves 15.

    Another case of manslaughter and not murder is Paul Mason, his girlfriend after the stabbing was left in a 'critical condition'. Looks like self-defence. That leaves 14.

    Mark Lemetti was murdered by a Pakisatni. That leaves 13 murdered by Thais.

    Martin Connolly was murdered by an American, That leaves 12 murdered by Thais.

    Debra O'Hanley was murdered by a Brit. That leaves 11 murdered by Thais.

    Robert Henry was murdered by a Brit.

    That therefore leaves 10 Brits who were murdered by Thais in 5 years. An average of 2 a year! Why oh why was this not mentioned in the article!@

  29. Andrew Spooner: I give your article attention because I think it highlights and promotes cultural and developmental differences as reasoning for a universal crime. (As seen on the interpretations posted here which I was more responding too) It buys into Huntington way to much to be taken with any seriousness. I don't like reading this sort of thing, but I do so I can question it.

    As for making 2000 words fit into a Sunday newspaper column, what about some exploration of biologists using telescopes and astronomers microscopes!!! It would make for just as good, apathetic, latte drinking, perusing material.

  30. unsensationalism again.

    Michael Butcher was run off the road by a car driven by his girlfriend.

    Paul Mason was murdered also, some info and details provided by his mother are on http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=89419

    Straying away from brits, off the top of my head I can immediately remember in the recent past Steve Miller shot in Pattaya, the canadian recently shot in Pai, the german guy killed in his room on Ramkamheng, the German shot dead in pattaya by his ex-wife, the japanese lady murdered near ayuthaya.

    the place is wild, i dont know why people try and deny it.

  31. Comment to Stephen Cleary – the data I used in my piece was for the 4years from 2003 to 2006 – 17 murders makes just over 4 a year. There is something between 40 and 50 murders year on year – I think the average is something like 45. So, the Thai percentage is approaching 10%.
    In the piece I could've made more of the fact that 1000 Brits have died from all causes in 4 years. I could've pointed out that the definitions of murder for the Thai police are far more slippery than in the UK. For instance, some cases in that 1000 would be considered corporate manslaughter in the West due to poor safety standards.
    As pointed out by David and myself, Thailand is a dangerous place for Thais as well. 5000murders a year is very very high and that's before you get onto road accidents. My concern in a British newspaper was with British citizens.

    As for the list please refer to this par in my piece "In the years 2003 to 2006, 17 of these victims were UK nationals, according to the FCO. These murders include a
    sexually motivated killing of a young British woman; a Thai police
    officer executing two backpackers in a crowded street; shootings,
    throat cuttings and two cases of other Westerners murdering UK
    nationals; and, more pertinently, several cases of Thai wives or their
    family members slaying British husbands."

    Then there is this "On average, about 50 civilian UK nationals are murdered around the world each year (excluding terrorist attacks). This means that almost
    10 per cent of all murders of Britons abroad are committed in Thailand
    – a chilling figure, given that Thailand comprises only 0.6 per cent
    of all foreign travel from UK shores.

    The murder rate is perhaps surprising; of the 420,000 annual British
    travellers to Thailand, a tiny percentage are the victims of crime.
    The Thais are friendly and engaging hosts and, with their famous
    beaches, handsome resorts and low prices bringing in millions of
    tourists, it is easy to understand why we have fallen in love with the
    country, and currently comprise its highest proportion of Western
    visitors."

    You also need to understand that there was a lot of stuff I wrote that was edited out. Any journalist (which you claim to be) would realise this but you seem to have a bee in you bonnet.

    Finally Stephen, I was just curious if you'd be referring to the 30+ positive articles that I've written on Thailand for the UK national press in your blog? After all, not to do that, would be sensationalising my work and not giving a clear, overall picture. It would in effect be shoddy, cheap journalism without any balance whatsoever.

  32. I have lived in Thailand for more than 4 years and feel much safer than i ever lived in my home country and for that i believe a respected writer like Cleary much more than Spooner. Stephen Cleary has indicated the faults in Spooner's article so he should just accept it instead of running off in different directions trying to defend himself like a wounded dog. Like Cleary i am sick and tired of exaggerated UK journalists whose idols in life work for The Sun.

  33. The comments on here are now getting beyond ridiculous and I am afraid my attempt to give some insight seems to have failed miserably. I now understand why writers such as myself don't bother to answer to blogs.

  34. I agree Andrew Spooner, plain bloody ridiculous. Stephen Cleary, a "respected writer". Come now, lets not get silly (Tom W and Cleary clearly one and the same).

    It seems this little debate has got to the point here when all the "Thailand is perfect" brigade are throwing their toys out the pram because someone dared to mention anything negative (like the truth) about Thailand.

    If Thailand is such a safe wonderful sweet idyllic place to live then why does the number of homicides in the UK average at 800 a year and for Thailand it's the wrong side of 5,000 (Thailand and the UK have almost the same population)?

  35. In response to Just too much (or is it Aka: Andrew Spooner, Aka David). Yes, this is getting ridiculous because of yours and your alias figures.
    5,000+ is so high, why?
    I have already checked. That number is the amount of reports which are originally filed under 'murder'. It is normal procedure for the police to file as 'murder' anything which is close ie… manslaughter, road crash etc… Later of course, after investigation, the charge is changed.

    How come Andrew (or is it David or Just too much) that you wrote this "I now understand why writers such as myself don’t bother to answer to blogs"

    Now, who started all this off, all this answering to this blog – you or Matt?

  36. Stephen Cleary, I am not Andrew Spooner. In fact if I'm completely honest I'd never heard of him until Matt posted this piece, even though I read the Indie sometimes.
    5,000 was the figure quoted for murder, not manslaughter or road kill or anything else. I'll check again and if I am wrong I will apologise. Anyway, if you can be honest a minute and remove your jasmine tinted specs you might agree that any negative figures in Thailand are always "massaged" down. So if official figures are 5,000 then you can bet ya bottom dollar that the real figure is more like 10,000.

    I'm amazed that someone who is apparently of good intellect can honestly argue that Thailand is some kind of idyllic utopia. Look around, open your eyes. Thailand is a nice place and has some good qualities but hell, it's got some serious problems. I don't see that taking the Thai attitude of refusing to acknowledge anything bad about the places is healthy or in any way productive.

    BTW, are you now a Thai citizen? Do you have a Thai passport? Just curious as you have been there many years, (I think) married and work there. Or maybe permanent residency?

    Adious!

  37. Sorry Stephen, but despite your accusation I only ever post or write in my own name.

    It'd be great to read some of your stories published in the UK national press that cast Thailand in a positive light. Please send me the links – you're a journalist after all and I'm sure you must have something published in the UK.

    I'd be very happy to send you a link to any of the many positive stories I've had published in the UK press. Some are quite good, if I may say so myself. There's one on the massage school at Wat Pho; another on a very cool homestay programme near Mae Hong Son. Then there's one on Hua Hin, another on Thai Islands, and even another on a mahout school in the North. All good positive stories about Thailand published in the UK national press.

    Or are you only interested in the negative one?

    It's a question I think you should be brave enough to answer.

    Oh and the 5000 murders a year didn't include the 1000s who were extra-judicially murdered in the war on drugs. I did think of factoring them in but as nobody has ever given anything approaching an exact figure it was best left out. Several of my Thai friends thought I should have included them though.

    Would you now like to try and deny the war on drugs deaths as well? Are they another attempt to besmirch the name of Thailand?

    It is also interesting that you have access to better information than the UN and the British Government and the Thai Police. Astonishing in fact. Be great to see all your sources – mine are all quoted.

  38. I was lucky enough to come to Thailand before it became a popular tourist destination. So I guess I’m biased. Speaking as a grumpy old fart I’m not sure which is more damaging to Thailand…30 articles about how wonderful it is or one article about how dangerous it is.

  39. Spooner, your article doesn't quote naff all besides the 5,000+ 'murders' . Sorry, to tell you again like, but a source from the Thai Royal Police has informed me that the quota for 'murders' is the number of suspects who were originally charged with 'murder' – he explained that the Thai police often file the highest possible charge possible against the suspect, regardless to whether sb runover sb by accident.

    As for denying the war on drugs! Foogers-me, i never mentioned a thing about that!

    I will deny one thing though- i'm not a sensationalist.

  40. Stephen, my sources are the UN (last recorded number of murders in Thailand), the FCO (numbers of murders/deaths of British nationals in Thailand and other places) and the office of national statistics (numbers of UK travellers to Thailand). You can find the UN stats online, you can make a Freedom of Information Act request to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for their info and you should be able to find the UK Office of National Statistics stuff on their website.

    I would be very happy to talk to your source in the Royal Thai Police and would certainly approach my paper to publish any official reports or similar documents you or they have. At this point it would be professionally unwise for me to take second hand comments published on a blog as factual.

    I would also stress that my editor at the Independent on Sunday cross-checked all my sources. If you have a further beef you should comment directly to them as they have ultimate responsibility for what is published. I'm also sure, if you write a cogent enough response which can list sources, documents and the like they may even consider publishing it. Ranting at me here and on your own blog is hardly productive.

    Why not propose an article to them showing the other side of the story? I'm sure if you can show them that everything they published was complete bunkum they'd be forced to print at least a letter. They might even be forced to retract the piece and publish an apology. If you can show me the evidence you mention here (the notes or tapes you have with your interview with the Royal Thai Police would be a start – I don't even need to meet them or know who they are but would need to see something) I'd support you in asking for that.

    Something showing numbers of murder charges against murder convictions would also reveal what you are talking about. At the moment the best figures are provided by the UN and any publication would be forced to go with that. Imagine if I turned up to my editor and said "Some bloke on a blog says the UN and FCO figures are wrong – we should just publish what he says and we don't need to check his evidence" – I'd be quite rightly laughed out of the building.

    As I understand it the UN figure was passed to them by the Thai Government. There is no other way the UN would publish any other figure. If they did, it would be a major international incident. If you have a better documented source – I couldn't find one – I'd be ecstatic to see it.

    You do state you are a journalist – I would assume you are aware of the subbing and editorial process. What i delivered to my paper was different to what was published. A lot of stuff was edited out, including, among others things, quotes directly from members of the Thai government who admitted there was a problem to be addressed. The paper choose to edit that out and present the piece in the way of their choosing and I respect their decision, though would've preferred otherwise. But, if you ask any journalist, that is often the way it goes – we don't get everything in!

  41. Stephen,

    It is now several days since I posted the above and I've had no response from you.

    Shall I assume you don't want to take up my offer?

    Andrew

  42. Hi Andrew Spooner. Dont waste your energy with with Stephen Cleary. He is now a journalist because he gets to write occasionally in the Nation newspaper in Bangkok, where many of the foreign journalists have never been journalists before.
    He falsely claims by the way that John Henry was murdered by a farang. For your information Dr, Pornthip Rojanasun claims that some 10,000 bodies are found each year in Thailand and unnaccounted for.
    In his rant in the Nation he claimed your article was in a British tabloid. He also invented two stories which he said had appeared in the foreign press,which had not. They were rants by forum posters on Thai blogs.
    You can tell that this chap is never going to admit he is wrong. He is claiming I wrote sensationally about the murder of a Canadian by a policeman in Pai recently. And the shooting of a Canadian women
    He told his readers that this was manslaughter as the women in question had a reputation of attacking Thai policemen. His information came from 'tens' of foreigners.
    He has been proved wrong on this count, humiliatingly so. But he isn't going to apologise. I doubt very much whether he has been published in a British newspaper.
    He has claimed on his blog that he has tried to contact me. But I have'nt heard a whisper from him. I liked the piece by the way.

  43. Hi Andrew

    Yes I read Stephen Cleary's piece and it does seem that he doesn't understand the basic tenets of journalism. He offers no evidence or sources and seems to base his entire body of work on the workings of his own imagination.

    I find it bizarre that he has managed to break out of the world of blogs and be seen to offer some kind of worthwhile comment.

    I note he didn't have the courage to mention either my name or the name of my paper in his ridiculous story nor is he willing to even engage in any proper debate.

    There's a simple reason why he won't do that – because he knows full well he can't stand up his story. Hence him not taking me up on my offer to contact the Indy with his 'evidence' which at the moment consists of him looking at a few websites and having a chat (he has no notes or tapes) with an unnamed police officer.

    You really couldn't make this up.

    And, for the record, he also sent me an email in which he made disparaging personal comments about you.

    Andrew

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