Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My third arrest for trespassing?

Members of the Screen Australia Board
level 4, 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011

29th. Nov 2012 

Dear Board Members

“Playing fast and loose with the truth”
“Being parsimonious (economical) with the truth”
“Stretching the truth”
“Taking factual short-cuts”

These are some of the euphemisms we use in public discourse these days to avoid using the words ‘lies’ and ‘lying’. These clearly understood words of yesteryear went out of fashion with the advent of political correctness and spin doctors whose job is to obfuscate and manipulate others into viewing the world in a way that serves their purposes - regardless of facts, evidence and the truth. Today’s successful bureaucrat, technocrat or party apparatchik must, along with being skilled at their designated job, also be a skilled spin-doctor; must be able to make a pigs ear appear to be a silk purse and must, like the Emperor with No Clothes, be able to convince his or her Courtiers that s/he is not naked at all but finely attired. Such is the world we live in now and those of us who see that what is being presented to us as a silk purse is in reality a sow’s ear, those of us who can see clearly that the Emperor (or Empress) is wearing few if any clothes, are confronted with a choice - to keep our mouths shut and reap the benefits that accrue to being obedient Courtiers or speak a truth based on facts, on evidence, and suffer the consequences.

Ruth Harley has conjured up an alternative reality in which I have placed Screen Australia staff at risk and managed, it seems. to convince you all of the veracity of this reality. An independent observer of this dispute would be quite justified in considering the possibility
that it is me who has conjured up an alternative reality - one in which I have not placed Screen Australia’s staff at risk with my correspondence when in fact I have. 

Given that correspondence, be it in letter or email form, either exists or does not exist, the key to determining whether or not I am guilty as charged is to produce the correspondence; produce the paragraph, sentence, phrase or single word that is even mildly suggestive of my having placed any member of Screen Australia staff at risk. 

The original charges of harassment and intimidation seem to have fallen by the wayside! Is this because both words have readily identifiable definitions whereas ‘at risk’ is so vague as to mean whatever Ruth Harley wants it to mean; whatever the imagination conjures? ‘ At risk’ is a useful expression because it carries with it the implication (unsubstantiated by evidence) that I pose a danger  of some kind Screen Australia staff. This non-specific danger is so great that even assessing a documentary or script development  application from me could be damaging to the reader/assessor’s physical well-being. Mind you, the same reader/assessor would not be at risk reading Producer Offset documents relating to a film project of mine! Does this not strike you as odd? The lack of logic!?

That Screen Australia refuses identify the passages in my correspondence  that place SA staff at risk suggests one of two possibilities:

(1) There is not one scrap of evidence on file that I have placed Screen Australia staff at risk.
(2) There is evidence but Screen Australia chooses not to make it public and certainly not share it with the accused - me.

If (1) be the case, why has the Board extended the ban on me till May 2014, as opposed to apologizing for its wrongful ban?

If (2) be the case, can the Board please provide me and the film community with a reason why the evidence of my crime must remain a secret?

My request that Screen Australia make public the evidence it has that I have placed members of staff at risk (and, until recently, that I have harassed and intimidated them also) has fallen on deaf ears. My suggestion, made may times this past six months, that some form of mediation be entered into has likewise fallen on deaf ears. Ruth Harley’s response to both of these suggestions (with the Board’s blessing, presumably) is to send me a hefty bill that dates back 8 years and which resulted from, to quote Keith Lupton’s 18th July 2005 letter, my company being “inadvertently paid the final audit payment with respect to VIVA! twice.” This is so, though there is a bit more to it than meets the eye - as with the Screen Rights ‘debt’. All that is relevant here is that the non-repayment of these debts did not prevent Screen Australia from investing in the development of a project of mine entitled, interestingly, TRANSPARENCY. The timing of Ruth Harley’s decision to call in these debts requires no comment. In some respects at least, Ruth’s motivations and modus operandi are very transparent indeed.

Yesterday, I received in the mail 40 or so pages of documents from the police relating to the charge to be heard in court on 20th Dec: “Did remain on inclosed lands of Screen Australia...after being requested by Graham Smith, the person apparently in charge the said lands to leave those lands.” I am not sure which will be the more laughable outcome - that I am found guilty or innocent of trespassing in the Screen Australia foyer at 4 pm during business hours doing nothing other than sitting quietly reading marked up correspondence recently handed to me by Ruth Harley! 

My defense in court will be simple. My many attempts over a period of months to be provided with evidence of my crimes having failed, I felt that I had no choice but to try an alternative approach - which I announced a few days earlier in my 11th Sept letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and published online @: 

To a certain extent this ploy worked. Ruth delivered me the marked up correspondence after five or so months of my asking for it. I was in the process of trying to find evidence in it of my having intimidated or placed at risk Screen Australia staff when the police arrived.

My second attempt at using the same ploy did not work at all, however. No member of the Screen Australia Board wished to speak with me or present me with evidence of my crimes. Instead, with the Board’s knowledge and approval, it seems, the police were called and I was arrested again as I sat in the foyer quietly, posing a risk to no one.

My third arrest will probably occur some time in the next week. Again, I will arrive in the foyer of Screen Australia’s Sydney office with only one objective in mind - to be provided with evidence of my having placed Screen Australia staff at risk. Three arrests for  the crime of asking for evidence of my having intimidated, harassed and placed Screen Australia staff at risk will speak for itself not only of Ruth Harley’s management style but of the Screen Australia Board’s lack of commitment to transparency, accountability and the notion that a person charged with a serious offense (intimidation, placing staff at risk) is entitled to be presented with evidence of his guilt.

The alternative remains that Screen Australia agrees, in the next few days, to engage in some form of mediation to see this dispute resolved on the basis of facts and evidence and not mere allegations.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Don't worry about your reputation, James. It hasn't been damaged in the eyes of the people that matter. Even Blind Freddy can see what is going on here!

    1. Thanks, Freddy, but the bulk of the 'people who matter', regardless of how onside they may be, do not want to be publicly associated with me - especially if they have dealings with Screen Australia. And which filmmaker does not!

  2. How disappointing that Rachel Perkins, Claudia Karvan and Richard Keddie have not insisted that the Board provide Ricketson with evidence of his having placed Screen Australia staff at risk. Shame on all three (and the rest of the Board) if they have allowed him to be banned by Dr Harley in the absence of evidence!