Sunday, June 17, 2012

Freedom of Information request

Nick Coyle
Freedom of Information Officer
Screen Australia
Level 4, 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                                18th June 2012

Dear Nick

Ruth Harley, in her letter to me dated 10th May, claims that I have been intimidating, harassing and placing Screen Australia staff at risk with my correspondence to the organization. Please accept this letter as a formal request, using Freedom of Information legislation, to acquire copies of the correspondence Ruth is referring to. Fiona Cameron makes similar claims in her letter to me dated 12th Nov 2010. I would like copies of the correspondence that Fiona is referring to also.

In arriving at her decision to ban me Ruth Harley must have been relying on information provided to her by the members of the Screen Australia staff who believed that they were being harassed, intimidated and placed at risk. I would like to get copies of whatever documents exist in relation to such complaints by members of SA staff– be they email exchanges, letters, notes taken at meetings, reports, any form of internal communication within Screen Australia relating to the correspondence Ruth refers to in her letter to me of 10th May.

In relation to the Screen Australia Board I would like to be provided with copies of any documents that Ruth Harley presented to it prior to my banning – either by way of gaining the Board’s approval for her intention to ban me or informing the Board of her reason, after the event, for having done so. My intention here is to find out if the Screen Australia Board (1) voted to ban me, (2) ratified Ruth Harley’s decision to ban me after the event or, (3) knew nothing of the ban either before or after Ruth Harley imposed it. If (3) be the case I wish to acquire copies of any documents that exist pertaining to Glen Boreham and the Board’s response to my banning in the past five weeks, since the ban was imposed. Has Glen Boreham or any other member of the Board sighted the documents Ruth Harley refers to that bear witness to my having harassed, intimidated or placed Screen Australia staff at risk? If the matter has been raised in a Board meeting I would like to acquire copies of whatever Screen Australia Board documents I am entitled to under FOI legislation relating to my banning.

Because my being banned has been conducted in such secrecy, with no warning, no evidence presented and no right of appeal,  because Ruth Harley has made it quite clear that she has no intention of providing me with copies of the correspondence she is referring to in her letter of 10th May and no intention of communicating with me, this FOI request something of a fishing expedition. I don’t know what documents I need to prove, in court, that Ruth Harley is lying when she claims that I have been harassing, intimidating and placing at risk members of her staff. I do know, however, that my innocence of the crimes I have been charged with (and found guilty of by Screen Australia) can be established if it is demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the offending correspondence does not exist. And it is my contention that the correspondence in support of the Screen Australia ban does not exist.

I find myself in the exceedingly odd position of making a Freedom of Information request for copies of non-existent correspondence. In the event that you cannot produce the correspondence that Ruth Harley is referring to in a timely fashion (and that to which Fiona Cameron refers to) I think it fair to work on the presumption that no such correspondence exists. It would be helpful, Nick, if you could let me know within what time frame I might expect to get a respond to my FOI request?

In keeping with my decision to be totally transparent and accountable in my dealings with Screen Australia in relation to my being banned I am publishing this letter to you on the internet. I will likewise publish whatever correspondence you provide me with as evidence in support of my having been banned. I will let those who follow my blog, fellow filmmakers, decide, on the basis of facts and not on mere assertions and spin, whether it is me who is lying or Ruth Harley.

I am also copying this to the Hon Simon Crean and to the Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman – despite both having decided to ignore my request that Ruth Harley release the correspondence she refers to in her letter of 10th May.

best wishes

James Ricketson
cc the Hon Simon Crean
Ms Alison Larkins,  Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman

1 comment:

  1. Wow! More drama here than in your average Aussie movie! Can't wait for next installment. Who is going to get voted out - Ricketson or Harley?