Anorak News | While You Were Watching Madeleine McCann, Serena Wylde Was Charged In Praia da Luz

While You Were Watching Madeleine McCann, Serena Wylde Was Charged In Praia da Luz

by | 11th, December 2009

serenaWHILE you were reading about Madeleine McCann, another Briton, Serena Wylde, was facing a prison sentence for goings on in Praia da Luz.

Fait Trials International highlights the case of the 58 year old business woman from Putney, “facing a possible prison sentence in Portugal after making a complaint against a lawyer to the profession’s regulatory body. Serena is due to stand trial in the Algarve on charges of aggravated criminal defamation, which carries a sentence of over 6 months in prison.”

Want to know what she did, or is at least said to have done?

The charge relates to a letter Serena wrote to the solicitors’ regulatory body in Portugal, the “Ordem dos Advogados”, calling for disciplinary action to be taken against a lawyer who had been acting in a property dispute with her neighbour. Instead of investigating the matter, the body forwarded the letter to the prosecutor’s office who then began criminal proceedings against Miss Wylde for aggravated defamation.

Lawyers know how to use the law to their advantage, allegedly:

The lawyer against whom the complaint was made, Mr Pimenta de Almeida Borges, is the son of a former Supreme Court judge and belongs to a prominent family in Portugal.

Is that relevant, yer honour?

After her parents’ death, Serena inherited a house in Praia da Luz (the Algarve) that her parents had retired to from the UK. She has close connections with Portugal, has a Portuguese husband, speaks the language and both of her parents are buried on the Algarve.

After a property dispute developed between Serena and her neighbours over the erection of a gate on Serena’s property, both sides engaged Portuguese lawyers to deal with the matter. It was not necessary to continue formal legal proceedings in Portugal as Miss Wylde and her neighbours reached an amicable solution.


The neighbours’ lawyer (Mr Pimenta de Almeida Borges), however, failed to follow his client’s instructions and continued legal proceedings after he had been informed that a settlement had been reached. This caused considerable anxiety for Serena and her neighbours.


Serena decided to make a written complaint to the solicitors’ regulatory body in Portugal, the “Ordem dos Advogados”. She stated in that letter that she considered Mr de Almeida Borges to have acted in an improper and unscrupulous manner. The letter requested that his conduct be investigated by the regulatory authority.

Instead of investigating the complaint, the regulatory body sent Serena’s letter to the prosecuting authorities in Portugal. She heard nothing from the Ordem but in February 2007, two armed police officers arrived at her home in Praia da Luz and told her to report to the office of the security police.

It’s the law. We’ll do the questions:

Serena has been charged with aggravated criminal defamation under Article 180-1 and 184 of the Portuguese Criminal Code. This provides for more severe sentences where the defamation is against certain public officials or lawyers. If convicted, she could face a prison sentence of up to nine months imprisonment.

What can be done?

Mr Pimenta de Almeida Borges is the son of former Supreme Court judge and is from an established Portuguese family. He has written to the prosecutor in support of the prosecution of Miss Wylde and to seek €50,000 in damages from her. In his correspondence to the prosecutor he describes himself as “a well to do and cultured individual”, referring to “the family from which he descends and to which he belongs” and his “uninterrupted advocacy in the town of Lagos for 28 years.”

It’s 50,000 euros-worth of culture… In light of this he claims:

“It’s difficult to fix a sum to indemnify the offence suffered by one who exercises his profession with such honour, dignity and seriousness… Some would say that one’s honour has no price… [I consider] adequate to restore the damage suffered by the actions of [Miss Wylde] the payment of a 50,000 Euro indemnity.”

Now the good bit:

The Portuguese lawyer (Francisco Teixeira da Mota), defending Serena, has said “Unfortunately, we don’t have a significant tradition of freedom of expression in Portugal. But as in other Mediterranean countries, we have a concept of honour which is seriously outdated. This trial should never have happened and I hope that we win it.”

Freedom of expression is lacking in Portugal? But Mr Goncarlo Amaral is arguing that freedom of expression is all’ it’s his defence against the McCanns’ accusation of libel.

What next for Serena Wylde?

Posted: 11th, December 2009 | In: Reviews Comments (4) | TrackBack | Permalink