BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

The King and I

Jon Williams Jon Williams | 09:22 UK time, Monday, 2 June 2008

Much has been written in recent weeks of the difficulties the BBC has in reporting from places like Zimbabwe and Burma - much less about the situation across the border from Rangoon in Thailand. There, strict laws called "lese majeste", govern what can (and cannot) be said about the Thai royal family.

King Bhumibol appears at Bangkok's Grand Palace on 5 Decemebr 2007The political situation in Thailand is febrile - elections last year returned the country to civilian rule after a military coup in 2006. King Bhumibol - who is revered by the Thai people - is one of the few people able to command the respect of the entire country and is above politics. But it means that campaigners from all sides often "use" the institution of the monarchy to justify their actions.

So - just as the new civilian government finds itself fighting for it survival - our correspondent in Bangkok, Jonathan Head finds himself accused of breaking the country's strict "lese majeste" rules.

The complaint has been made by an opponent of the former Prime Minister Thaksin, prompting comment in the Thai press. The suggestion is that Jonathan's reporting has insulted the monarchy.

While we respect the Thai judicial process, the allegations made against Jonathan Head are completely unfounded. We understand that the police in Thailand are required to investigate all complaints of "lese majeste" and we will co-operate with that investigation. We look forward to it clearing Jonathan in due course.


  • Comment number 1.

    Wait. What's the situation here? That Jonathan Head's reports on the coup insulted the monarchy? Or that he reported about an opponent to something that HRH the King gave his backing to?

    Could we have some additional context please Jon?

  • Comment number 2.


    Can you please tell me why there is so little information about the South Korean demonstrations and the police response on your website? The Seoul Foreign Journalists club is in the middle of the protest area, so what is the BBC's man in Seoul doing?

  • Comment number 3.

    It would have been helpful to include precise details of the allegations, or at least include a link to those allegations. How can we meaningfully comment in a vacuum? Or am I supposed to say: "Very well done, BBC, nice to see you getting one over on Johhny foreigner yet again- any more nonsense from Siam and a gunboat should be despatched to teach them a lesson"?

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Not much getting past the moderators on this blog folks! I feel honoured to have previously made it through such a fine sieve, but wonder what gems have been excuded? Or maybe the article itself just generated adverse comment by its unspecific nature? Will I ever know? Do I care?

  • Comment number 7.

    The law is the law.. If Jonathan broke it, Jonathan should be tried by that country he was living in and punished if found guilty.

    In the UK, you are priviledged to be allowed to say pretty much what you please without too much backlash, but there are still some laws over what can be reported, for example, racist, hateful and inciteful comments can result in imprisonment. That is the law in this country, and if someone accuses you of making such comments, then you will be investigated.. Why is Jonathan suddenly expecting to be treated differently under reasonably similar circumstances?? He knew the law, he could very easily have left Thailand to make these comments, he chose not to, and so is being investigated as a reporter for the Taliban would be in the UK..

    If he's innocent, i.e. he did not make derogatory comments about the Thai king, then he should be found innocent, and we should assist him in the same way we assist other wrongfully accused people, but if he is not innocent, do we really want our international representatives in the world, the BBC, taking sides against the Thai government "just because he's a collegue"?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.