Wednesday, May 30, 2012
An intimidating email?
With arrival of the mail each day I expect either a letter of apology from Ruth Harley or a letter from Screen Australia’s legal department. Three weeks after Ruth announced that I had been banned from having any contact with Screen Australia, I have received neither.
I have re-read all of my correspondence with Screen Australia in relation to CHANTI’S WORLD looking for clues of intimidation, harassment or placing staff at risk. The following email, sent on 4th Oct 2011 is as close as I have ever come, in my view, to being guilty of the crime for which I have been charged. It was written 11 months after I had started inviting Liz (the recipient of the email) and others at Screen Australia present during two conversations regarding the project (the only two) to refute my version of events. Liz and the others could have done so easily. It would have been my word against theirs and I would not blame anyone for believing three Screen Australia employees rather than one filmmaker. However, neither Liz nor the others in a position to do so has ever said to me, “James, recollection of what was said at the meetings is quite different to the one you have presented.” The response to my questions, for close to 18 months ago, has been total silence – up until three weeks ago when Ruth Harley chose to refer to my continued asking of pertinent questions as harassment, intimidation and placing her staff at risk.
My latest letter to Ruth Harley (copied to you whilst you were away and, it seems, deleted automatically) speaks for itself.
That a version of the truth has gone on record that you know to be untrue and that you know to be damaging to my reputation within Screen Australia does not reflect well on your character, your integrity, your honesty. How could you behave in this manner, Liz? If you have such total disregard for my reputation why not go the final step and put in writing that you did not hear Ross and Claire admit to not viewing my promo. As you know, this is where this dispute begins. Your silence on this has resulted in me being presented as a liar anyway as far as the Screen Australia records go. Why not end your silence and place it on record?
Perhaps because this would be a lie and you do not want to lie? If so, your silence on this is just as bad as a lie – sins of omission being, in this instance, the same as sins of commission. It has made it possible for Fiona to lie with impunity – her assertion that there is correspondence from me on file suggesting a quite different (and corrupt) reason for my complaints that is only credible if the fact that Ross and Claire did not view my promo is conveniently forgotten.
Fiona operates on the presumption that I now have no avenues through which I can get this matter dealt with impartially and on the basis of facts as opposed to lies and silence. Ruth seems to be of the same opinion. We shall see!
To cast aspersions on Liz’s character, integrity and honesty is not a nice thing to do and it was not done lightly, but this is precisely what has happened to me. My own character, integrity and honesty have been impugned by Fiona Cameron’s reference to correspondence from me that does not exist and, 17 months later by Ruth Harley’s reference to correspondence that does not, I contend, bear witness to my having intimidated, harassed or placed anyone at risk. Liz is the only member of Screen Australia staff I have written to regarding this dispute who is not a member of senior management.
Fiona Cameron’s and Ruth Harley’s lies in relation to emails and letters I have written amounts to character assassination of the kind that results in filmmakers (in this instance) being marginalized and discriminated against. It is an abuse of power. And it is this abuse of power and the impossibility of a filmmaker seeking redress at any level within Screen Australia (or within the ministry for the Arts or, it seems, the office of the Ombudsman) that should, I believe, be of concern to everyone in the industry.
Even now, even after 17 months of my asking, Liz could bring at least one thread of this drama to an end by stating, simply, “James, my recollection of what took place in the two meetings I was either present for or present for part of, is quite different to your own.”
Why has no-one within Screen Australia, within the office of the Ministry for the Arts or within the office of the Ombudsman asked Liz this question and cleared up at least this one vital point?
I am well aware, of course, of what a fool and a liar I will appear to be if the Fiona Cameron and Ruth Harley produce the relevant correspondence from me they claim is on file at Screen Australia.