American to say sorry for bad reviews
Koh Chang resort to withdraw defamation suit if all conditions met
An American national being sued over his negative reviews of a hotel on Koh Chang yesterday agreed to issue an apology to the hotel and its staff and have it published in media outlets to resolve the dispute.
Wesley Barnes, accompanied by Thai lawyer Attapol Suwanchan, and Pitcha Ratanawong, representative of Sea View Koh Chang, signed the agreement at the resort before Pol Col Kitti Maleehuan, superintendent of Koh Chang police station. Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Barnes thanked the hotel and said he was willing to fulfil the agreement that had been discussed by lawyers of both sides.
In the four-point agreement, Mr Barnes would issue a formal and sincere apology to the hotel and its staff and have it published in all media outlets that reported the dispute.
He will also send a separate apology to the Trat provincial tourism office for causing negative effects on the province's tourism sector and inform the American embassy of the facts surrounding the dispute.
Mr Barnes would also contact TripAdvisor to explain why he faced the defamation complaint over his negative reviews and ask the website to remove the "Red Badge" from the hotel review page. He was expected to fulfil the agreement by Oct 30, after which the hotel would withdraw the defamation complaint against him.
Before the meeting, Tinnapat Meephetatthamongkol, the hotel's lawyer, said the hotel was wiling to settle the dispute with Mr Barnes and all he needed to do was to show sincerity, take responsibility for his actions and be prepared to set things right.
According to the hotel, the content of Mr Barnes' reviews contained accusations of slavery at the hotel and a racist comment about a hotel restaurant staff member who is Czech. The hotel defended its decision to file a defamation suit but the severity of its response made worldwide headlines.
Mr Barnes was arrested by immigration police in Samut Prakan and taken to Koh Chang police station where the complaint was lodged. He was held in custody for two nights after his wife failed to file bail before the end of office hours.