Monday, October 15, 2012

The day after my arrest!

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                 16th Oct. 2012

Dear Rachel

The ‘Details of Offence/s’ section of my Court Attendance Notice reads (the spelling mistakes the police’s, not my own):

Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901, Section 4 (1) (b).
Remain on enclosed lands between 10 am and 4.20pm on 15/10/2012 at Woolloomooloo.
did remain on the inclosed lands of Screen Australia, situate at level 4 of 150 William Street, Wooloomooloo after being requested by Graham SMITH, the person apparently in charge the said lands to leave those lands.

Poor bemused Graham, the Security Manager for the building (“the person apparently in charge the said lands”), had no idea what was going on. Being asked by a tenant (Ruth Harley) to call the police and have me arrested for remaining on ‘inclosed lands’ was, I suspect, a first for Graham! My crime: Sitting in the foyer drinking a soy latte (bought for me by Fiona Cameron) and reading through marked up copies of my ‘intimidating correspondence’, having been asked by Fiona Cameron at 3.30 to leave the building because the Security Manager (“the person apparently in charge the said lands”) had to go home at 4pm! I’m trying hard to take my arrest seriously, Rachel, seriously, but it is difficult when you have, as part of your bail conditions, been provided with a map of Kings Cross with a circle, two kilometres across, to let you know where you may not venture without being arrested!

It is hard to know where to begin in responding to my arrest (replete with a trip to the police station in a paddy wagon and having to remove my belt in case I top myself!) but let’s start with the length of time it has taken me to be provided with evidence of my having intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff –the ostensible reason why you and other members of the Screen Australia board have banned me.

On 11th May I wrote the following to Ruth Harley:

Your reference to my placing members of your staff at risk is as nonsensical as Fiona Cameron’s reference, 17 months ago, to correspondence I had supposedly placed on file but which does not exist. Have you no respect at all for facts, Ruth? For the truth? Please produce the evidence of my placing your staff at risk by writing to them? And, whilst you are at it, copies of the correspondence that Fiona says are on file that lie at the very heart the heart of my complaint.

Over a period of five months I asked Ruth Harley repeatedly to provide me with evidence of my intimidating correspondence. She refused to do so. I asked you to ask Ruth to so but you ignored my letter of 26th June in which I wrote:

I have asked the Chair of the Board, Glen Boreham, the same questions I am asking you here. Many times. Glen has ignored my requests. I am now asking you to do so in your capacity as a board member and as a fellow filmmaker who must, I am sure, be aware of the ramifications for a filmmaker of being banned by Screen Australia.

The question for Ruth is a simple one:

Please provide both the Screen Australia Board and James Ricketson with the dates on which he wrote either letters or emails that you believe contain evidence that he has harassed, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff?”

This will take less than five minutes of your time, Rachel, and I do not think it would be unreasonable to expect of Ruth that she provide the evidence within 24 hours. If Ruth can provide no evidence the ban on me should be lifted immediately and I should receive from both Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board a public apology.

This was 10 days after you had sent me an email containing the following:

Hi James, I understand your concerns. Unfortunately I was shooting at the time that the discussion occurred, so am not as informed as I should be. I will look into the matter personally, although given the majority of the board has made the resolution, the decision will stand for at least the near future I would think.

I need not catalogue the number of times I have asked Ruth, you and the Screen Australia board to provide me with evidence of my intimidating correspondence this past 5 months (check my blog). All my requests have been ignored. My attempt to acquire the correspondence through FOI also failed – Nick Coyle sending me copies of pretty well every piece of correspondence I have ever sent to Screen Australia with no indication as to which parts of it were considered to be intimidating and placing SA staff at risk. My attempt to be provided with evidence of my intimidation through an appeal to the Ombudsman’s office likewise failed. Not his job, said Senior Investigator, Stephen Nowicki.

As you know, my only reason for making my Statement of Claim in the Supreme Court, suing Ruth Harley for defamation of NSW (and asking $1 in damages!) was to acquire evidence of the crime I had been found guilty of by you and the Screen Australia board and which had resulted in your ban on me. The case was dismissed in 10 minutes, with no evidence heard, on the grounds that I had not filled out my Statement of Claim correctly. But here’s a line of enquiry for you to pursue if you are interested in the way in which Screen Australia monies are spent defending Ruth Harley’s right to be neither transparent or accountable in her dealings with filmmakers:

Why did Screen Australia feel that it was necessary to have a barrister and his associate, a solicitor and Screen Australia’s General Counsel, Elizabeth Grinston, in court (four lawyers!) to prevent me from acquiring copies of the marked up correspondence handed to me by Ruth yesterday in the Screen Australia foyer in which I would shortly thereafter be arrested whilst reading it? (I am trying to stop myself from laughing as I write, but it’s hard!) How much money has Screen Australia spent on legal costs in its attempt to protect Ruth’s right not to reveal the evidence she claimed to have that I had intimidated and placed her staff at risk? Screen Australia will not reveal this, of course, but I hope at least that someone asks the question and, perhaps, uses FOI legislation to find out. The barrister’s fees alone would, I suspect, fund a small film or a draft or two of a screenplay.

Now we come to the fun part – the evidence in support of my banning. Have you read the marked up copies of my correspondence, Rachel? Has any member of the board? I suspect not. If not, please do ask Ruth to courier a copy over to you today. In fact, I think that marked up copies should be provided to all members of the Screen Australia board today. When you have all stopped shaking your head in wonderment that what you are reading is considered evidence of my having intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff I hope you do a quick call around to make sure you all have the same incredulous response and immediately lift the ban on me so that I can make my ‘Chanti’s World’ application on Friday – if the international broadcaster is still interested in providing me with a pre-sale. Alternatively, if you really can find one paragraph, one sentence or even one phrase in the marked up correspondence that is intimidating and places Screen Australia staff at risk, please do point it out to me, Rachel.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Just to clarify - the 'Inclosed' .v. 'Enclosed' wasn't a typo.

    The law loves archaic phrases - so they've kept the archaic spelling of 'Inclosed' for the wording of the actual law. That means they keep using it - look at the 'Keep Out' sign on School grounds with also has the bizarre spelling.