Caught in Thailand for e-mail threats to Tesco, Briton issues apology

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Tesco market in St. Albans, England.

A British man, held in Thailand for e-mailing threats to executives of United Kingdom retailer Tesco, has admitted to the scheme and apologized.

"What I did was very misguided, a silly idea that I took so far," Alexander Winstone's statement reads. "I would like to stress that it was never my intention to cause anybody any harm or hurt, and as I was working alone it was impossible for me to do so.

"Lastly, I would like to apologize to Tesco Plc and its staff for the distress that this must have caused and to the members of the Royal Thai and British police forces for wasting their time and resources."

Winstone, 36, sent e-mails to Tesco in May, demanding £2 million (about US$4 million) in exchange for not tampering with products sold by the U.K.'s biggest retailer.

Scotland Yard traced the e-mails to an Internet cafe in the Nana area of Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok. Winstead was present in surveillance videos in the cafe, and he was captured in another Internet cafe nearby.

How Winstone planned to implement his scheme is unknown. Tesco operates 57 Tesco Lotus hypermarkets in Thailand, as well as 309 Tesco Express convenience stores.

Winstone was brought in yesterday for questioning by Royal Thai Police. He faces up to five years in jail in Thailand, or he could be extradited to the U.K.

"We take this to be a serious crime and no laughing matter. We will be happy to put this man on trial in Thailand for attempted extortion if the British authorities do not ask for his extradition," Police General Issaraphan Sanitwong na Ayutthaya was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.