Thursday, December 13, 2012

letter to Simon Crean

The Hon Simon Crean
Minister for the Arts
House of Representatives
Parliament House
ACT 2600

14th Dec. 2012

Dear Minister

Early this afternoon I will arrive at the offices of Screen Australia in Sydney in the hope, after seven months of asking, that I may be provided with documentary evidence that I have harassed, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff.

It is on the basis of these non-specific charges, backed up by no evidence, that Dr Ruth Harley, Chief Executive Officer, with the blessing of the Screen Australia Board, has banned me from having any dealings with Screen Australia. This ban has effectively ended my career as an Australian filmmaker.

On the two previous occasions that I have arrived in the Screen Australia foyer, during business hours, requesting evidence of the crimes for which I have been tried in absentia and found guilty, the police have been called and I have been arrested. Given Screen Australia’s refusal to provide me with evidence of y crimes that I have asked for repeatedly the same dynamic will, in all likelihood, play out today and I will spend the weekend in jail.

Alternatively and, I believe, more appropriately, I could, upon my arrival at Screen Australia this afternoon, be provided with evidence that I have intimidated and placed Screen Australia staff at risk. Even more appropriately, members of the Board might meet with me and explain on the basis of what evidence they have ratified Ruth Harley’s ban.  

My suggestion, made many times now, that this long running dispute be resolved by an independent mediator, someone with no vested interest in the outcome, has been refused by Screen Australia. Could this be because a mediator dealing with facts and evidence only and not with mere allegations might arrive at a similar conclusion to the one arrived at by Justice Stephen Rares in relation to Speaker Peter Slipper this week.

Rares described the sexual harassment case as an “abuse of process” carried out for the “purpose of causing significant public, reputational and political damage to Mr Slipper.” Delete the word ‘sexual’, replace the word ‘political’ with professional and ‘Slipper’ with ‘Ricketson’ and Rares’ description fits me perfectly. Or does it? Might an independent mediator, upon appraising him or herself with the evidence, arrive at a different conclusion? The key word here, of course, is ‘evidence’ – required by courts and mediators alike but not viewed as necessary by Screen Australia!

You could be forgiven for believing that Screen Australia must have evidence of my having intimidated and placed at risk members of its staff. Surely the Board would not ratify such a ban without being presented with cogent evidence in support of it!? One would hope so!

If Screen Australia is in possession of such evidence, why has it not been presented to me – despite seven months of my asking for it? The release of one paragraph, one sentence or even one phrase from my correspondence in which it is clear that my intention is to intimidate and place staff at risk would be sufficient to brand me a liar and as someone for whom being banned is an appropriate punishment for such odious behavior.

Why, you must ask yourself, do Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board feel that it is necessary to have me arrested in the foyer of Screen Australia when all I am doing is sitting there quietly waiting to be presented with evidence of my crimes? Is this not a form of intimidation?

Why, you might also ask, would I go to such lengths to prove my innocence? The answer is simple. My reputation is important to me and I do not want it sullied by false allegations that implicate me in behavior (intimidating and placing people at risk) that would, under most circumstances, result in an Apprehended Violence Order being taken out against the perpetrator.

Please, Mr Crean, in the interests of natural justice, end this abuse of process by requesting of Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board that they either provide me with evidence of my crimes today or lift the ban that has been placed on me. If they decide, with your blessing, to call the police instead, so be it. Early in the new year I will be back in the Screen Australia foyer and will continue to make such visits and be arrested until I am provided with evidence of my crimes.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. WTF is going on here? Why doesn't the Board destroy Ricketson's credibility by releasing the evidence upon which it has based its ban?

    1. This has nothing to do with intimidating correspondence (which seems not to exist) and very little to do with Ricketson himself. This is all about Ruth Harley sending a very strong message to the entire industry not to ask difficult questions and not to be critical in public of the way the organisation is run. Hw can the filmmakers on the Board be a party to all this!

  2. A question for the Screen Australia Board:

    If Ricketson's ban is not evidence-based but arises from Ruth Harley's dislike of him, does the same apply when the Board makes decisions to either support or not support projects and/or filmmakers? Or, to put it another way, does evidence play a major or merely a peripheral role in the Board's decision making processes?

  3. If the Board refuses to give James the evidence he has been asking for and to which he is entitled it will lose all credibility in my eyes.