British woman accused of defamation faces court .jpg

British woman accused of defamation faces court

By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]

A 58 year-old British woman facing criminal charges for making a complaint against a Lagos-based lawyer has said that she will come to the Algarve to face the court.

Serena Wylde, speaking exclusively to the Algarve Resident, said that she will face the judges if the case goes to trial, as it has already been postponed.

In preparation for her defence against Lagos-based lawyer Fernando Pimenta de Almeida Borges, Serena said that her lawyer has asked the Portuguese regulatory body to re-examine the original disciplinary enquiry.

“A year ago, I also commissioned a legal opinion in London, which has been fully translated into English and is now with the Ministry of Justice,” she said.

“I have already spent close to 20,000 euros and for two years, I battled this alone, writing to MPs, the Portuguese attorney general and many others to try and resolve this without embarrassing Portugal.”

Finding that her letters and those sent by British MPs to Portugal on her behalf were getting the issue no closer to being resolved, Serena decided to contact human rights campaign group Fair Trials International and bring the story out into the public domain.

“I will appear in court and if I am convicted then I will appeal and appeal until eventually the case will go to the European court of human rights,” she said.

“I feel exhausted, furious and betrayed. After this is all over, I will have to think of whether I want to return to Portugal.”

Since making the case public, Serena Wylde said that she has been “inundated” by people telling her about their troubles with lawyers in Portugal.

“I am considering setting up a website,” she said, adding that she wants to help people get their stories out in some way without the fear of retribution.


Meanwhile, Portuguese lawyer José Pedro Magalhães, a friend and former colleague of Fernando Pimenta de Almeida Borges, told the Algarve Resident that under Portuguese criminal law, anyone addressing an entity and making a charge against another person, even in the form of suspicion, in violation of his or her honour or consideration commits a crime of defamation.

He went on to say that if the opinion of Jago Russell, Chief Executive of Fair Trials International, that complaints made anonymously and in private to a regulatory body for lawyers should never be the subject of criminal defamation proceedings was unfair.

“This opinion – if prevailing – would mean that a lawyer who considers him/herself to be the subject of defamation could not bring forward a criminal complaint,” he said.

The case is due to be heard at Lagos court but a date for this has not yet been set.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]