Thursday, August 16, 2012

letter to Ruth Harley 16th August

Ruth Harley
Chief Executive
Screen Australia
Level 4,150 William St.
Woolloomooloo 2011 16th August 2012

Dear Ruth

As I have made clear on numerous occasions, I have little interest in the outcome of my defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW on 5th Sept. other than in securing from you both copies of correspondence that you claim I have written and which I claim I have not. If it were not for the reluctance of Glen Boreham, Simon Crean and the Ombudsman to request from yourself the release or identification of my ‘intimidating’ correspondence I would not be bothering with the Supreme Court.

I imagine, on purely technical grounds Screen Australia might win the case. If so, that’s fine – as long as, in the process, I acquire copies of the correspondence that you claim bears witness to my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff; as long as I get hold of copies of the correspondence Fiona Cameron refers to in her letter of 12th Nov. 2010 – for which I have been asking for 21 months now and which Screen Australia refuses to supply me with in accordance with FOI legislation. Once I have these documents, or at least the dates on which I wrote them, I will then publish these on the internet and my small band of interested blog followers can make up their own minds as to who has been playing fast and loose with the truth.

In an ideal world, in a world in which what you write is in sync with demonstrable fact, you would write to me a letter in which you acknowledge that:

- Clare Jager and Ross Mathews did not view the ‘promo’ I submitted in my first CHANTI’S WORLD application and that my complaint regarding this was legitimate.

- I did not write the correspondence Fiona Cameron refers to in her letter of 12th Nov 2010 by way of dismissing my complaint.

- There is not one letter or email on file at Screen Australia in which I have, in accordance with whatever dictionary definition you choose to rely on, intimidated or placed at risk a member of Screen Australia staff.

As for the word ‘harass’ (“To trouble or pursue relentlessly”) I am as guilty as is anyone who relentlessly pursues the truth and is not prepared to accept spon in its place.

That it should be necessary to prove the existence or non-existence of the contentious correspondence in the Supreme Court strikes me as absurd. It would have been much more appropriate for an independent Conciliator to determine the existence or non-existence of the correspondence rather than waste time, energy and financial resources in the Supreme Court.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Regardless of who is right or wrong, regardless of whether or not the correspondence exists, this episode represents a huge failure on the part of Screen Australia, of the SA Board, of our minister, the Hon Simon Crean and of the Ombudsman (and let's not forget the Prime Minister) to arrive at an answer to what seems to me to be a very simple problem. How much time and energy has been fruitlessly wasted when all that was required (and suggested by Ricketson) was an independent observer with no axe to grind, no favours to be returned and no hopes of future success with SA to look at the correspondence and announce, 'Yes, it is intimidating, harassing and places Screen Australia staff at risk," or ,"No, I find no evidence of the charge that Ruth Harley has laid against Ricketson and that she has used as her reason to ban him." It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court will, with a minimum of fuss make a determination in this matter with due haste. My fear, with some experience in matters legal, is that Screen Australia will see out the entire Supreme Court hearing without actually producing the relevant correspondence. There are several ways this objective could be achieved.

    1. You're right, Freddy. Screen Australia would not be allowng this matter to be heard in court if Harley believed that she would be obliged to hand over the correspondence Ricketson has been asking for for so long. No, SA has some legal trick up its sleeve that will enable it to NOT identify the offensive correspondence. When the dust has settled, regardless of the legal outcome, my bet is that we'll still be in the dark as to whether or not Ricketson is 'The Intimidator'!

  2. Blind Freddy, Sceptic, my choices are somewhat limited - to the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court. As it happens, several hours before I received a letter from Screen Australia’s lawyers, I had sent a letter to the office of the Ombudsman (yet another!) in which I wrote:

    “Screen Australia does not need a formal ban in place to prevent me from receiving funding. It can achieve the same end, with no fuss, no controversy and no avenue of appeal, by simply saying, “Your project was not competitive with others being considered by Screen Australia.” Why Ruth Harley should make my banning official (formal rather than informal) remains a mystery to – unless, of course, it was her way of ‘intimidating’ me into ceasing, on my blog, to write less than congratulatory things about herself and Screen Australia. One thing that is clear, however, is that Harley has been able to ban me secure in the knowledge, based on previous experience, that in the event of my complaining again to the Ombudsman, it is highly unlikely that your office will conduct a proper investigation into it. In the case of my complaint about the correspondence Fiona Cameron referred to in Nov 2010, an ‘investigation’ need have been nothing more than requesting that Ms Cameron produce the correspondence. If she had produced the correspondence I claimed did not exist I would have looked a fool and the matter would have been closed from everyone’s point of view very quickly. If Ms Cameron had not been able to produce the correspondence she could have apologized immediately for placing on file a statement that was not true and, again, the matter would have been (could easily have been) resolved very quickly.

    The same applies again. All that is required is that Ruth Harley identify one paragraph or one sentence or even one phrase that is ‘intimidating’ or which places Screen Australia staff at risk and my case crumbles into dust and I would be a fool to pursue the matter in the Supreme Court. Since Ruth Harley refuses to identify such a paragraph, sentence or phrase I am left with two options: (1) Ask the Ombudsman to insist that Ruth Harley produce some evidence in support of her ban or (2) Call upon the services of the Supreme Court of NSW to secure copies of the offending correspondence. This latter option is akin to using a sledge hammer to swat a fly but has been forced on me by my inability to get the office of the Ombudsman to ask the question.”

    I have asked the Ombudsman to ask Harley to produce the correspondence but it has been made very clear to me that I do not have the right to dictate to the office of the Ombudsman how it proceeds with an investigation!