Jonathan Head

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Jonathan Head is the South East Asia Correspondent for BBC News, the main newsgathering department of the BBC, and its 24-hour television news channels BBC World News and BBC News Channel, as we1l as the BBC's domestic television and radio channels and the BBC World Service. He was formerly the BBC Indonesia Correspondent, South East Asia Correspondent, Tokyo Correspondent and Turkey Correspondent, with over 20 years' experience as a reporter, programme editor and producer for BBC radio and television. He became BBC South East Asia Correspondent in August 2012.


Head was educated at Dulwich College, a part-boarding independent school in the town of Dulwich in South London, between the years 1974-1978,[1] followed by Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge where he studied a B.A. in History and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where he studied an M.A. in South East Asian Area Studies.

Life and career[edit]

Head joined the BBC in 1991, initially working for the BBC World Service international radio network and BBC World (now BBC World News) international satellite and cable television channel, before becoming BBC Indonesia Correspondent in 1996. He became BBC South East Asia Correspondent, based in Bangkok, in 2000, and BBC Tokyo Correspondent in 2003. He reported on the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, and returned to South East Asia in 2006 to report from a range of countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma and East Timor.

In 2007, Head was Vice-President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), and in 2008 was investigated for a possible charge of lèse-majesté, insulting the King of Thailand, by a police colonel, Watanasak Mungkijakarndee, who claimed that Head's reporting between 2006 and 2008 had "damaged and insulted the monarchy",[2] and was warned that he could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty in a Thai courthouse.[3][4]

In 2009, he became BBC Turkey Correspondent, based in Istanbul, and in 2011 reported from Libya during the country’s uprising, including the siege of Sirte, the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi, the former leader of Libya.

He returned to Thailand for a third stint as BBC South East Asia Correspondent in August 2012,[5][6] and was President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) for the 2014-15 term.[7]

Defamation charges[edit]

In February 2017, a Thai lawyer, Pratuan Thanarak, brought (criminal) charges of defamation and violating the country’s Computer Crimes Act against Head, following Head's September 2016 investigative report of a fraud perpetrated on two Europeans who had invested in properties on Phuket island [1].[8] Authorities seized Head's passport and imposed other bail terms, with the case expected to last two years, severely impacting his job as SE Asia correspondent.

The Committee to Protect Journalists called the charges "unwarranted" and criticised the "use of criminal defamation complaints in Thailand" which has "a chilling effect on journalists who fear being bogged down in time-consuming and expensive litigation".[9] Reporters Without Borders also slammed the defamation laws and the Computer Crimes Act, saying that "journalists covering trials in Thailand often censor themselves out of fear of being accused and possibly going to prison for many years. Journalists have no hope of then being compensated, even when they demonstrate that the allegations brought against them are completely spurious".[10]

The charges were dropped on 23 August 2017, the first day of Head's trial.[11]


  1. ^ The Dulwich College Yearbook (107th Issue) & Alleyn Club Newsletter (No. 52) 2012 - Page 9 Dulwich College. Published: 2012. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  2. ^ WikiLeaks cables: Thai leaders doubt suitability of prince to become king The Guardian newspaper. Author: Mark Tran. Date: 15 December 2010. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  3. ^ In Thailand, Insulting the King Can Mean 15 Years in Jail Wall Street Journal. Author: James Hookway. Published: 16 October 2008. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  4. ^ BBC reporter charged with insulting the king Committee to Protect Journalists. Published: 24 December 2008. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  5. ^ Jonathan Head Archived 9 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. BBC Correspondents Map. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  6. ^ The Dulwich College Yearbook (107th Issue) & Alleyn Club Newsletter (No. 52) 2012 - Page 9 Dulwich College. Published: 2012. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  7. ^ Bent lawyer takes on the BBC Bureau Chief, Andrew Drummond, January 21, 2016
  8. ^ BBC Reporter Faces Defamation Suit in Thailand, Benar News, 2016-02-08
  9. ^ Defamation suit in Thailand restricts BBC reporter's freedom of movement, Committee to Protect Journalists,February 28, 2017
  10. ^ Laws on defamation and computer crimes used to deter reporting, Reporters Without Borders, March 1, 2017
  11. ^ "BBC correspondent Jonathan Head has criminal defamation suit dropped in Thailand". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 

External links[edit]