A defamation lawsuit between Thai Rath newspaper and yellow-shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul has been settled after Sondhi, the defendant, admitted that he had defamed the newspaper by presenting incorrect information in his ASTV-Manager talk show programme, as well as through his newspaper and website, and agreed to publish his apology for three days.
Thai Rath filed a defamation lawsuit against Sondhi and 4 others in the Manager Group for publishing false information through their media outlets from 13 to 15 July 2007.
On 30 April, Thai Rath newspaper and Sondhi jointly stated to the court that they had agreed to a settlement, by which Sondhi would publish his apology in Thai Rath and his ASTV-Manager newspaper for three days.
According to the published apology, Sondhi said in his ASTV talk show programme on 13 July 2007, which was transcribed and published on his website and newspaper, ‘Thai Rath newspaper has never contributed anything to social development, [but instead] oppressed Thai society, keeping it backward. [Thai Rath] is influential as a low-down newspaper. You [Thai Rath] are in a movement to overthrow the democratic system with the King as Head of State, aren’t you?’
On 20 July 2007, he said that, ‘many Thai Rath columnists are on the payroll of the Thai Rak Thai Party. This, Thai Rath has never admitted. I have said many times that the only way to teach Thai Rath a lesson for its phony importance is to stop buying it. I’m asking 300,000 grocery store owners in Thailand whether Thai Rath has ever opposed Tesco-Lotus for you. So, why do you want to buy it?’
And on 27 July 2007, he said ‘Khunying Praneetsilp Watcharaphol [the widow of the late founder of Thai Rath newspaper Kamphol] earned the title of Khunying through the moral authority of the monarchy, but she has let her employees to do this. Kamphol received a high-ranking royal decoration, and was granted a royal urn when he died, but they still do this. Sarawut Watcharaphol [Kamphol’s son] is a member of the National Legislative Assembly [appointed by the junta after the 2006 coup], but he has never spoken any word in Parliament, and has let his employees do this. This newspaper is a jinx on this country. Having it in the country would only lead Thailand to ruin, because it has never been of any benefit to Thai society, not even one tiny bit.’
‘I now admit that what I said in the ASTV programme, later published by www.manager.co.th and ASTV-Manager daily newspaper, was completely untrue. The statements have caused Khunying Praneetsilp and Thai Rath newspaper to be greatly misunderstood by society, Sondhi said.