Briton faces trial for row with lawyer

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A RETIRED British businesswoman will stand trial in Portugal next week for allegedly defaming a lawyer in Portugal by making a formal complaint about him to a regulator.

Serena Wylde, 60, faces nine months in prison if she is convicted by a court in the Algarve.

A charge of aggravated criminal defamation was brought against her after she wrote to the solicitors’ regulatory body calling for disciplinary action against lawyer Fernando Pimenta de Almeida Borges.

He had been acting for Ms Wylde’s neighbour in a dispute over a gate built on the businesswoman’s property in Praia da Luz, which she inherited when her parents died. When the lawyer continued legal proceedings despite being told an amicable solution had been reached, Ms Wylde complained to the solicitors’ regulatory body which then forwarded her letter to the prosecutor’s office, which in turn began criminal proceedings against her.

Fair Trials International has accused the prosecution of flying in the face of free speech and putting those in positions of power beyond reproach. It said her original trial was suspended in January over questions surrounding the impartiality of the judge.

Ms Wylde, who will travel to the Lagos court for the trial from her home in Putney in south-west London with her Portuguese husband, vowed to appeal if she is convicted.

“Ultimately I’ll sue the Portuguese government for all my expenses because it violates every tenet of a democracy,” she said. “If the Portuguese don’t find in my favour, I’ll go to Strasbourg.”