British activist faces jail threat in Thailand as trial starts over worker abuse research

leading British human rights activist has gone on trial in Thailand on charges that carry up to seven years in jail for exposing allegations of labour abuses at a global fruit juice business.98433292_epa05315829-British-lawyer-and-migrant-workers27-rights-activist-Andy-Hall-arrives-for-his-t-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA

Andy Hall has been pursued through the courts in Bangkok relentlessly since early 2013 in a series of cases brought by Natural Fruit Company, a Thai pineapple company that supplied European and US markets.

Mr Hall, a Thai speaker who has lived in the kingdom for 11 years, is one of the country’s most prominent campaigners for the rights of migrant workers in the seafood and agricultural industries.

As he went into court on Wednesday, the 37-year-old told The Telegraph: “I’m very disappointed this case has been allowed to reach trial. It reflects badly on Thailand that I’m being pursued through the courts for just conducting research, though I also remain confident that I will be cleared.”

His retired parents, Patricia, 70, and Desmond Hall, 68, were following events nervously 6,000 miles away at home in Spalding, Lincs, he said.

“My mother sent me a message this morning sending their love and support. But they understand why I am here and said they were very proud of what I do.”