In the end, Ellis won or settled 9 different lawsuits filed against him and Supachai had his doctorate revoked. Then in 2012, Supachai was convicted of forgery and lost his position with the NIA, seemingly bringing an end to the case.
However, in 2009 Supachai had sent a letter to the Thai immigration department asking it to blacklist Ellis, naming him a threat to the country. That didn’t pose a problem for Ellis for many years. As both a Thai and British citizen, he usually reentered Thailand, where he has lived for 30 years, using his Thai passport.
This raises difficult questions, most importantly, how do we protect plagiarism whistleblowers without simultaneously encouraging false or exaggerated plagiarism allegations? While Ellis’ case is an extreme example, the fear of reprisal is very real and, in many cases, entirely understandable.
The last thing we want are more people scared to confront plagiarism out of fear of facing retribution like Ellis. Though it seems like Thailand’s courts did a decent job protecting him from frivolous lawsuits and the system seemed to work to remove Supachai’s credentials and position, it still failed to completely protect Ellis from undue retribution.
Other countries have to do better and other stories have to end better. Otherwise, it’s very likely that soon there will be very few, if any, willing to challenge plagiarists.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today, and do not reflect the opinions of iThenticate.