Jump to content

Andrew MacGregor Marshall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andrew MacGregor Marshall
Marshall in 2011
Marshall in 2011
Born25 March 1971 (1971-03-25) (age 53)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge

Andrew MacGregor Marshall (born 25 March 1971) is a Scottish journalist and author, focusing mainly on human rights, conflict, politics and crime, mostly in Asia and the Middle East. A noted critic of the Thai monarchy and government, in June 2011, Marshall resigned from Reuters in controversial circumstances after the news agency refused to publish exclusive stories he was writing on the Thai monarchy. His 2014 book A Kingdom in Crisis[1] was banned in Thailand [2] and a prominent Thai royalist made a formal complaint to police accusing Marshall of several crimes including lèse majesté.[3]


Marshall was a correspondent for Reuters for 17 years, covering political upheaval in Thailand and the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2000, he was named Reuters' Deputy Bureau Chief in Bangkok. He was Reuters' Baghdad bureau chief from 2003 to 2005 as a violent insurgency gripped Iraq, and was Reuters' managing editor for the Middle East from 2006 to 2008. From 2008 he was based in Singapore as a political risk analyst and emerging markets editor. He left Reuters in June 2011 when the agency refused to publish a set of articles about Thailand's monarchy he authored based on his analysis of leaked US diplomatic cables.[4]

#thaistory controversy[edit]

In June 2011 Marshall announced he had resigned from Reuters to publish a set of stories about Thailand that the news agency had refused to run. Later the same month he published the material himself. Entitled "Thailand's Moment of Truth", his study analysed the role of the monarchy in Thai politics and included references to hundreds of leaked US diplomatic cables. Thailand has harsh lèse majesté laws that criminalise criticism of the royal family, and journalists covering the country have tended to follow a policy of self-censorship, refraining from any comment on the monarchy that could be deemed critical. Marshall's study, usually referred to by its Twitter hashtag #thaistory, used evidence from the cables to argue the monarchy played a central political role in Thailand which had never been properly reported.[5]

In an article for the Independent newspaper, Marshall noted that his publication of #thaistory meant he may be imprisoned if he returned to Thailand, and that he understood Reuters' refusal to publish the material given the risks to its staff and business in Thailand if it offended the monarchy.[6] Reuters gave a different explanation, telling The Times and The Independent that the story didn't "work" in the format in which it was delivered, that they had questions regarding length, sourcing, objectivity and legal issues, and that Marshall "was not participating in the normal editing process."[7]

Marshall's #thaistory generated significant comment and debate. Nicholas Farrelly, a fellow at the Australian National University, wrote that the initial instalments published "have quickly become online sensations", adding "his insights will reverberate in Thai analytical circles for many years to come".[8] Joshua Kurlantzick, Southeast Asia fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, said Marshall's work was "perhaps the biggest bombshell of reportage on Thailand in decades".[9] Graeme Dobell of the Lowy Institute for International Policy described #thaistory as "journalism of the highest order"[10] and Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Institute of South East Asian Studies wrote: "Marshall has undoubtedly helped push the boundaries much further as one looks at the present state of the Thai monarchy."[11] Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia editor for The Times newspaper, said #thaistory was "a profound study, beyond mere journalism".[12]

The Thai authorities have a policy of not officially acknowledging the existence of controversial WikiLeaks cables, and so did not comment on #thaistory, but Thanong Khanthong, managing editor of the generally pro-establishment Nation newspaper, claimed it was part of an international plot to destabilise Thailand.[13]

Death of King Ananda Mahidol[edit]

Marshall has done extensive research into the mysterious shooting of Ananda Mahidol, King Rama VIII of Thailand, on 9 June 1946. He argues that the evidence overwhelmingly suggests Bhumibol Adulyadej killed his brother, probably accidentally, and this was covered up to enable Bhumibol to become king.[14]

A Kingdom in Crisis[edit]

Marshall's book A Kingdom in Crisis was published by Zed Books in October 2014. Reviewing the book for the New Mandala website, Patrick Jory, senior lecturer in Southeast Asian History at the University of Queensland, wrote: "Marshall, a former Reuters journalist, has for some years now been the foremost commentator on the taboo subject of the role of the monarchy in Thailand’s politics... Marshall has written a provocative, clearly argued, accessible, timely, and convincing book."[15]

On 11 November 2014 Thai police chief General Somyot Poompanmuang announced that the book had been banned in Thailand. Violators of the ban were liable to a prison term of up to three years and/or a fine of up to 60,000 baht.[16] "The content insults, defames and threatens Thailand's monarchy," Somyot said in a statement. "The book is a danger to national security and peaceful and orderly society."[17]

Accusations of lèse majesté and sedition[edit]

On 9 December 2014, Thai royalist Wanthongchai Chamnankit filed a formal complaint with police, accusing Marshall of breaking Article 112 of the Thai criminal code – the lèse majesté law. Wanthongchai also accused Marshall of violating Article 116 – a law prohibiting sedition, with a maximum penalty of death – and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act.[18]

Detention of wife by Thai police[edit]

On 22 July 2016, more than 20 police raided the family home of Marshall's wife Noppawan "Ploy" Bunluesilp in Bangkok while she was visiting Thailand, seizing her phones and computer equipment. She was taken to the headquarters of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok along with the couple's three-year-old son, and her father. Noppawan was interrogated for several hours and denied access to a lawyer. Her detention generated widespread international attention and she was released the same day. She subsequently left Thailand.[19][20]

Death of King Bhumibol[edit]

Marshall reported the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October 2016, several hours before the official announcement by the royal palace. He was the first journalist in the world to break the news.[21][22]

Thai junta bans online contact[edit]

On 13 April 2017, the ruling Thai junta issued a statement forbidding Thais from any online interaction with Marshall and two other prominent overseas commentators on Thai politics and the monarchy – professors Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Pavin Chachavalpongpun. The Ministry of Digital Economy said Thais should not follow, contact or share content from the trio on the internet or social media.[23] Marshall responded by saying: "“I believe Thais should be free to read information from all sources and make up their own mind about what they believe.” [24][25]

Opposition to British Royal Family[edit]

In addition to being a noted critic of the Thai Royal Family, MacGregor Marshall is also known to be a notoriously outspoken critic of the British Royal Family, having repeatedly demonstrated his dissatisfaction with members of the British monarchy (in particular, the current monarch of the United Kingdom, King Charles III) and consequently demonstrating support for Scottish independence.[26][27][28][29][30]


  1. ^ Marshall, Andrew MacGregor (9 October 2014). A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand's Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. London: Zed Books. ISBN 9781783600588. Archived from the original on 16 January 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Thai police bans book criticizing monarchy". Associated Press. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Thai royalist files lèse majesté complaint against Andrew McGregor Marshall". Prachatai. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  4. ^ Marshall, Andrew MacGregor (23 June 2011). "Why I decided to jeopardise my career and publish secrets". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012.
  5. ^ Andrew MacGregor Marshall, "Thailand's Moment of Truth", published 23 June 2011
  6. ^ Andrew MacGregor Marshall, "Why I decided to jeopardise my career and publish secrets", The Independent, 23 June 2011
  7. ^ Brian Rex, "Monarchy in spotlight: tensions that threaten new turmoil in Thailand" , The Independent, 23 June 2011
  8. ^ Nicholas Farrelly, "Why criticising the Thai royal family might be bad for your career", The Conversation, 6 July 2011
  9. ^ Joshua Kurlantzick, "Bombshell Report on Thailand May Open Debate on Monarchy", 27 June 2011
  10. ^ Graeme Dobell, "The danger of a Thai civil war", 5 July 2011
  11. ^ Pavin Chachavalpongpun, "Thailand’s Yingluck Factor: Can the Lady In Red Lead?" Archived 4 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Indonesian Strategic Review, August 2011
  12. ^ Nicholas Farrelly, "Andrew Marshall's Thai Story", New Mandala, 23 June 2011
  13. ^ Thanong Khanthong, "More Confrontation is Inevitable", The Nation, 1 July 2011
  14. ^ Andrew MacGregor Marshall, "Thailand's Saddest Secret", 6 March 2013
  15. ^ Patrick Jory, "Book Review: Review of Kingdom in Crisis", New Mandala, 12 November 2014
  16. ^ "Police chief bans book on Thai politics", Bangkok Post 13 November 2014
  17. ^ Preeti Jha, "Thai police ban British journalist's book for 'defaming' royals" Archived 8 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine, AFP, 13 November 2014
  18. ^ "Thai royalist files lèse majesté complaint against Andrew MacGregor Marshall", Prachatai, 10 December 2014
  19. ^ Mish Khan, "Thai authorities target critic’s wife", New Mandala, 22 July 2016
  20. ^ Oliver Holmes, "Wife of anti-monarchist British journalist detained in Thailand", The Guardian, 22 July 2016
  21. ^ Stan, Filip (13 October 2016). "Regele Thailandei a murit. A fost cel mai longeviv monarh, cu o domnie de peste 70 de ani". România TV. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  22. ^ "As Thais keep vigil, rumors of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death spread online". Asian Correspondent. Archived from the original on 14 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  23. ^ Oliver Holmes, "Thailand bans online contact with three critics of regime", The Guardian, 13 April 2017
  24. ^ "Thai junta warns against contacting critics of the monarchy", Reuters, 13 April 2017
  25. ^ "Thai government declares three Facebook accounts illegal", Reporters Without Borders, 14 April 2017
  26. ^ "Andrew MacGregor Marshall on Twitter: "In the UK we now have King Charles III, a rather pathetic figure with a comically inflated opinion of his own importance and intelligence. He's a ludicrous buffoon who would never have become head of state in any truly democratic country. What an embarrassment."". Twitter. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  27. ^ "Andrew MacGregor Marshall on Twitter: God save the king". Twitter. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  28. ^ "Scottish referendum: why it matters". IOL. 18 December 2022.
  29. ^ "Andrew MacGregor Marshall on Twitter: Nope, I oppose the English monarchy and am appalled by England's imperial past but these tweets just display total ignorance and you should be embarrassed". Twitter. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  30. ^ "Andrew MacGregor Marshall on Twitter: The queen's biggest achievement is that she took the British monarchy out of politics. Her predecessors, and her successor Charles, could never resist meddling sometimes, but she never did. You can oppose the British monarchy (which I do) without blaming Elizabeth". Twitter. Retrieved 20 December 2022.

External links[edit]