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Journalist settles multi-million libel suit with retail giant Tesco

(SEAPA/IFEX) - A Thai journalist facing a multi-million Baht libel suit filed by Tesco Lotus has reached an agreement with the retail giant to settle the case, media reports said.

"The Guardian"'s online website said Nongnart Harnavilai agreed to the wording of a clarification with Tesco Lotus before a judge. It is expected to be published in the newspaper "Bangkokbiznews".

Tesco Lotus filed a THB103-million (approx. US$3 million, £1.9 million) libel suit against Nongnart after she wrote in January 2008 in her business gossip column in "Bangkokbiznews", "Buzz," that the global retailer did not "love" Thailand.

The agreed wording, to be published in a short statement for three consecutive days, will express the author's apology that her readers may have taken the wrong meaning from her story.

Editors at the newspaper, owned by Thailand's Nation Group, agreed that the statement would be published on an inside page.

On the first day, a "pointer" would be printed on the front page, indicating its position in the paper. Both sides, who are to pay their own legal costs, will meet on 13 February 2009, and Tesco Lotus will formally withdraw its claim for damages.

A second Tesco Lotus case against another of the newspaper's columnists, Kamol Kamoltrakul, also for US$3 million, was due to go for arbitration on 27 November.

Updates the Nongnart Harnavilai case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92751

For further information on the Kamoltrakul case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91788

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