Putney Woman Faces Portuguese Jail - Trial Starts Today

Her complaint against a Portuguese lawyer may result in 9 month sentence


December 2009 article

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In December 2009 we reported that local businesses woman Serena Wylde, was accused of aggravated criminal defamation. Her trial is due to begin today.

According to the Press Association she was charged after writing to the solicitors' regulatory body, Ordem dos Advogados, calling for disciplinary action against lawyer Pimenta de Almeida Borges.

The lawyer had been acting for Ms Wylde's neighbour in a dispute over a gate built on the businesswoman's property. An amicable solution was reached but Mr de Almeida Borges continued legal proceedings despite being informed of the settlement, Fair Trials said.

Ms Wylde complained to the solicitors' regulatory body which then forwarded her letter to the prosecutor's office which began criminal proceedings against her.

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International, said: "It beggars belief that Serena Wylde is facing a criminal trial and the threat of months in a foreign jail for making a confidential complaint to a regulatory body. This prosecution flies in the face of free speech and puts those in positions of power beyond reproach."

Mr Pimenta de Almeida Borges is the son of a former Supreme Court judge and belongs to a prominent family in Portugal, Fair Trials said. According to the charity, Mr Pimenta de Almeida Borges told the prosecutor he was "a well-to-do and cultured individual".

He said: "It's difficult to fix a sum to indemnify the offence suffered by one who exercises his profession with such honour, dignity and seriousness." He went on to suggest a payment of 50,000 euro (£42,700).

Ms Wylde, who has a Portuguese husband, inherited the house in Praia da Luz after her parents died.

January 28, 2011