Thursday, May 31, 2012


What a delight to see WISH YOU WERE HERE and to find it very entertaining, suspenseful and accomplished on every level. Congratulations in particular to Kieran Darcy-Smith for his first class screenplay and sure direction and to Joel Edgerton and Felicity Price for their terrific performances. WISH YOU WERE HERE is a film that all involved (including Screen NSW and Screen Australia) should be proud of. A few more films like this and our industry will be in good shape again. If the screenplay was enormously helped by its having been involved in the Aurora initiative I must revisit and review my somewhat jaundiced view of the efficacy of Aurora. WISH YOU WERE HERE is a good film by international standards and deserves to reach a large Australian audience. I hope that it survives in the cinemas long enough for word of mouth to spread. Again, congratulations to all involved.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An intimidating email?

With arrival of the mail each day I expect either a letter of apology from Ruth Harley or a letter from Screen Australia’s legal department. Three weeks after Ruth announced that I had been banned from having any contact with Screen Australia, I have received neither.

I have re-read all of my correspondence with Screen Australia in relation to CHANTI’S WORLD looking for clues of intimidation, harassment or placing staff at risk. The following email, sent on 4th Oct 2011 is as close as I have ever come, in my view, to being guilty of the crime for which I have been charged. It was written 11 months after I had started inviting Liz (the recipient of the email) and others at Screen Australia present during two conversations regarding the project (the only two) to refute my version of events. Liz and the others could have done so easily. It would have been my word against theirs and I would not blame anyone for believing three Screen Australia employees rather than one filmmaker. However, neither Liz nor the others in a position to do so has ever said to me, “James, recollection of what was said at the meetings is quite different to the one you have presented.” The response to my questions, for close to 18 months ago, has been total silence – up until three weeks ago when Ruth Harley chose to refer to my continued asking of pertinent questions as harassment, intimidation and placing her staff at risk.


My latest letter to Ruth Harley (copied to you whilst you were away and, it seems, deleted automatically) speaks for itself.

That a version of the truth has gone on record that you know to be untrue and that you know to be damaging to my reputation within Screen Australia does not reflect well on your character, your integrity, your honesty. How could you behave in this manner, Liz? If you have such total disregard for my reputation why not go the final step and put in writing that you did not hear Ross and Claire admit to not viewing my promo.  As you know, this is where this dispute begins. Your silence on this has resulted in me being presented as a liar anyway as far as the Screen Australia records go. Why not end your silence and place it on record?

Perhaps because this would be a lie and you do not want to lie? If so, your silence on this is just as bad as a lie – sins of omission being, in this instance, the same as sins of commission. It has made it possible for Fiona to lie with impunity – her assertion that there is correspondence from me on file suggesting a quite different (and corrupt) reason for my complaints that is only credible if the fact that Ross and Claire did not view my promo is conveniently forgotten.

Fiona operates on the presumption that I now have no avenues through which I can get this matter dealt with impartially and on the basis of facts as opposed to lies and silence. Ruth seems to be of the same opinion. We shall see!

best wishes

To cast aspersions on Liz’s character, integrity and honesty is not a nice thing to do and it was not done lightly, but this is precisely what has happened to me. My own character, integrity and honesty have been impugned by Fiona Cameron’s reference to correspondence from me that does not exist and, 17 months later by Ruth Harley’s reference to correspondence that does not, I contend, bear witness to my having intimidated, harassed or placed anyone at risk. Liz is the only member of Screen Australia staff I have written to regarding this dispute who is not a member of senior management.

Fiona Cameron’s and Ruth Harley’s lies in relation to emails and letters I have written amounts to character assassination of the kind that results in filmmakers (in this instance) being marginalized and discriminated against. It is an abuse of power. And it is this abuse of power and the impossibility of a filmmaker seeking redress at any level within Screen Australia (or within the ministry for the Arts or, it seems, the office of the Ombudsman) that should, I believe, be of concern to everyone in the industry.

Even now, even after 17 months of my asking, Liz could bring at least one thread of this drama to an end by stating, simply, “James, my recollection of what took place in the two meetings I was either present for or present for part of, is quite different to your own.”

Why has no-one within Screen Australia, within the office of the Ministry for the Arts or within the office of the Ombudsman asked Liz this question and cleared up at least this one vital point?

I am well aware, of course, of what a fool and a liar I will appear to be if the Fiona Cameron and Ruth Harley produce the relevant correspondence from me they claim is on file at Screen Australia.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

letter to Ruth Harley 30th May

Ruth Harley
CEO, Screen Australia
Level 4
150 William St.
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                    30th May 2012

Dear Ruth

I have received no response from you at all to my letter of 14th May. This is unsurprising given what you wrote in your letter of 10th May:

“To be clear, any correspondence which you send to us about the decisions notified in this letter will not be read.”

How wonderfully simple and less time-consuming our legal system and conflict resolution processes would be if the Ruth Harley Star Chamber approach were to be adopted! There would be no need for evidence, no concept of the presumption of innocence, no right of the accused to present his or her case and no right of appeal. Indeed, no opportunity for the accused to engage in any kind of dialogue with the accuser. The guilty party (guilty because s/he has been charged with a crime by a person in a position of power and therefore must be guilty) can pursue only three options: (1) accept the judgment of the Star Chamber unquestioningly, regardless of the injustice that has been done; (2) refuse to accept the punishment meted out and fight for your right not to be subject to the autocratic whims of the Ruth Harleys and Fiona Camerons of the world. Option (2) leaves the complainant open to the accusation of harassment and intimidation if s/he fights for a just resolution based on facts and not spin by repeatedly asking for evidence of the crime s/he has been accused of. This is what I have done. For close to 18 months now.

The remaining option is: (3) appeal to someone further up the bureaucratic ladder to insist that decisions as draconian as banning a filmmaker be backed up with evidence. My attempts to get the Screen Australia Board to play such a role have got me nowhere. My attempts to get Simon Crean to get someone in his office to ask for the evidence have resulted only in one letter from a spin doctor and the office of the Ombudsman seems to accept that the correspondence you and Fiona claim to exist must exist simply because you say it does. Curiouser and curiouser!

Of course Star Chambers don’t choose their victims arbitrarily. They choose them for a reason, though rarely for the reason presented by the Star Chamber. My own problems with Screen Australia began, as you know, back in the early days of its existence when Martha Coleman declared that since I was not a ‘proven producer’ it was not possible for me to make script development applications to Screen Australia for certain projects  -  including those in which I was to play the role of ‘mentor producer’ to some young filmmakers. Having been producing films (drama and documentaries) for close to 40 years I thought Martha’s reason for refusing to even read applications from me was silly and appealed to you to apply some common sense to the situation. I was, as I explained to you, quite experienced in my craft. I had studied drama for five years at university, giving up a masters degree in drama to go a film school in Australia for a year and then to New York University to do post graduate work. I had spent 10 years, on and off, doing assessments for the Australian Film Commission and had been recommended by the AFC, more than once, to act as a mentor to young filmmakers.  And I had won an AFI screenwriting award, along with various other awards over the years. And yet, in the new look Screen Australia, I was not qualified to mentor young filmmakers!

You ignored my correspondence and, when I persisted, handed the matter on to Fiona Cameron to deal with. Fiona made it abundantly clear that what was important was not my experience but the fact that I could not, despite my experience, place a tick in the ‘proven producer’ box. “But I was the producer of BLACKFELLAS during the entire three year period of its development,” I told her, “and during the initial stages of raising money to make the film.” This cut no ice with Fiona because my name does not appear in the credits as a producer. In accordance with Screen Australia guidelines I was not ‘proven’ and, as such, could not mentor young filmmakers in a producing role. If I had been a facilities owner who had contributed equipment and/or facilities to a feature film production in return for a producer’s credit, however, I would be  qualified to act as a mentor to young filmmakers – even if I had never written a screenplay, produced or directed a film or worked in any capacity on an actual film.

Fiona’s position was nonsensical and, as you know, I fought hard to have her decision overturned.  Given that you, Martha and Fiona all refused to meet with me in person I had no option but to advocate on my own behalf through letters and emails. In not one of these have I ever used abusive language. In not one of them have I ever sought to intimidate or harass any member of your staff – unless, of course, asking the same question many times (having received no answers) constitutes harassment. As for placing your staff at risk, this is just nonsense Ruth and you know it. And so would anyone who looked at my correspondence. It is a mystery to me why you would make such a statement. Perhaps you hoped, with your fatwa, that I would toe the line and stop asking questions in public. Perhaps, by implying that you might call off your fatwa, you were hoping that I might realize that my best interests would be served in ceasing to be a public critic of Screen Australia. Or, to be more precise, being a critic of the autocratic way in which you and Fiona run Screen Australia – the primary focus of Fiona’s attention being on the correct filling out of forms and not on the quality of the ideas or screenplays that the forms accompany in the making of an application. I should qualify this. The strict adherence to the filling out of forms, to the placing of ticks in the right boxes, applies only when senior management at Screen Australia chooses to apply it. The strict adherence to guidelines becomes much less strict, however (and is often abandoned completely) when it suits members of senior management at Screen Australia. The playing field is not level and anyone who complains about this will have their complaint dealt with by someone (Fiona) who has demonstrated her lack of commitment to the playing field remaining level.

You complain of the reputational damage I have inflicted on members of Screen Australia staff (and the organization itself) but seem oblivious to the damage inflicted on my own reputation as a result of the lies that you and Fiona have placed on file. If you can’t produce the correspondence that you claim bears witness to the crimes you accuse me of, Ruth, you have effectively defamed me and you should resign. The same goes for Fiona and the correspondence she claims I have placed on file but which, as you have known for 17 months, does not exist.

Again, given that you have no interest in conciliation, I suggest that you either sue me or apologize. Alternatively, produce the correspondence and it will be me who has to apologize.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Monday, May 28, 2012

letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard 29th May

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600                                                                                                           29th May  2012
Dear Prime Minister

“Your correspondence places our staff at risk,” writes a bureaucrat in the employ of the government you lead. “To be clear, any correspondence you send to us about the decisions notified in this letter will not be read.” At risk of what, I wonder! Death by letter bomb? Poisoning by anthrax? I know that the pen is mightier than the sword and all that, but…placing the staff of Screen Australia (a tax-payer funded film funding body) at risk with my words! Is that an insult or a compliment?

“Screen Australia has taken the decision that it will not accept further funding applications from you, or engage in correspondence with you about funding applications,” continues Ruth Harley, Chief Executive of Screen Australia. “I appreciate that this is an unusual step and one which we do not take lightly.”

I search Harley’s letter in vain for evidence that my letters and emails have placed her staff at risk, “We are under a legal obligation to protect our staff from harassment and intimidation,” is as close as Harley comes to explaining her decision. I agree with Harley that if I am guilty of harassment, intimidation and placing her staff at risk, her banning me from having any further communication with the tax-payer funded organization she heads up is not an inappropriate course of action. Indeed, given the unpleasant images conjured up by placing her staff ‘at risk’,  it would not be unreasonable for her to take out an AVO against me. Some evidence in support of the charges laid against me would be appreciated, however, given the draconian nature of the sentence handed down by Harley. With or without the blessing of the Screen Australia Board is a question that I have been unable to get an answer to.

Whoever in your office is reading this may well be thinking at this point: “The Chief Executive of Screen Australia, answerable to Minister for the Arts, the Hon Simon Crean, would not accuse a filmmaker of harassment, intimidation and placing her staff at risk if she did not have evidence that he had done so. Ricketson must be guilty, surely!”  Yes, I may be guilty as charged. It may well be that I am lying when I insist that I have not intimidated, harassed or placed any Screen Australia staff at risk. Evidence of my guilt or innocence would be found in the correspondence in question if anyone bothered to look. Or is Harley’s word of its existence enough?

I have asked Ruth Harley to quote one sentence, one paragraph, one email, one letter to a member of her staff that contains anything that could be construed, by even the most sensitive or Screen Australia employee, as posing a risk to them. If she can produce even just a few words that are evidence of my having harassed or intimidated her staff,  my pleading innocent is disingenuous at the very least. If Harley were to identify the correspondence to back up her claims, or even selected extracts, I would have lots of egg on my face. I would appear a fool in public, and deservedly so since I have so vociferously, and very publicly, proclaimed my innocence?  Harley refuses to reveal to me which of my correspondence she is referring to.  

My appeal to Harley to act n accordance with the precepts of accountability and transparency Screen Australia prides itself in adhering to having failed, I then suggested that an independent Conciliator be brought in to determine whether or not my correspondence contains evidence of the crimes for which I have been accused. Such a Conciliator should, I believe, be someone with no vested interest in the outcome but an interest only in verifiable facts and not in the clouds of obfuscation that tax-payer funded spin doctors can throw up to confuse simple questions. It does not get much more simple that this: the correspondence to which Harley refers either exists or it does not. And if it exists there must be a few words in it at least that could be construed as intimidating, harassing, placing staff at risk. Harley could point these out to the Conciliator.

Harley did not respond to my Conciliation suggestion. This is consistent with her declaration that “any correspondence you send to us about the decisions notified in this letter will not be read.” Kafkaesque is too mild a term to describe what is going on here!

I believe it should be a matter of concern to you, at a time when bureaucrats in your government endlessly repeat the  ‘I am committed to transparency and accountability’ mantra, that a senior bureaucrat can effectively ban an individual from communicating with a tax-payer funded organization and provide no evidence at all to back up his or her actions! It should be a matter of concern to you that the minister whose job it is to see that public servants act in accordance with the Australian Public Service code of conduct refuses to ask the Chief Executive of an organization within his portfolio to provide evidence for such a draconian course of action. Or am I just hopelessly old fashioned in my understanding of what the words ‘transparency’; and ‘accountability’ actually mean?

It is now three months since I wrote the following to you:

“It is more than a little absurd that it should be necessary to write to the Prime Minister of Australia to ask a simple question for which there is a not only a simple answer but an obvious one:
Is it appropriate that complaints made about the Chief Operating Officer of a federal government body that invests around $60 million a year in Australian film and television are investigated by the Chief Operating Officer herself?”
Receipt of this letter has not been acknowledged and it has certainly not been handed down the line to Mr Crean’s office for him to deal with. I have written many times to Mr Crean about this. Receipt of  my letters has not been acknowledged. Perhaps Crean is fearful that my correspondence places his staff at risk!  

yours sincerely

James Ricketson

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Forums, debate and dialogue

“Work on a screenplay often operates in a series of waves. The first waves are exploratory. We open all the doors and we begin to seek, neglecting no path, no blind alley. The imagination launches unbridled into a hunt which can lead it into the vulgar, the absurd, the grotesque, which can even make the imagination forget the theme that is the object of the hunt. Whereupon another wave rears, surging in the opposite direction. This is the backwash, the withdrawal to what is reasonable, essential, to the old question: exactly why are we making this and not some other film?

Jean Claude Carriere

“Why are we making this and not some other film?” A simple question that has a multitude of equally valid answers; a question that lies at the heart of the much bigger question:

“Why should the Australian tax-payer support Australian film (culture and industry) at all?”

Again, a question with multiple valid answers but is it a question that we filmmakers discuss as often and as effectively as we could? Or as we should?

In his response to my blog entry of a couple of days ago ‘Doug’ lamented the lack of opportunities for filmmakers to meet, discuss, argue, debate, swap ideas and so on:

“I think one of the worst things about our cottage industry is the stifling of debate. Creative industries thrive on discussion, the brick wall we are given by most funding agencies with regard to the scrutinising of investment decisions and funding policy just fans the flames of mistrust. I do on the other hand think the funding bodies are listening to the industry, but they could bypass so much misunderstanding and conspiracy by simply holding more forums for discussion and debate or setting up a digital platform whereby debate can flourish.”

I agree with ‘Doug’ wholeheartedly and wish that some body (the ADG or the Writer’s Guild, for instance) would organize such forums on a regular basis – allowing filmmakers to mix as professional colleagues and as friends (or potential friends) all engaged in similar pursuits. My own attempt to organize such a forum last year foundered when Screen Australia refused to be involved. I feel now that such forums would be of value even if Screen Australia refuses to take part in them.

Given the amount of attention paid to the craft of screenwriting by funding bodies and the lack, still, of very many high quality Australian screenplays, the art and craft of screenwriting would seem to me to be a good place to start. A debate with two teams – three on each team, along with a good strong moderator:

“The importation from overseas of script ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’ to conduct workshops has improved the quality of Australian screenplays.”

One team speaks in defence of and the other against the proposition. Each team member gets 6 or 7 minutes to speak then the debate is open to the floor – questions and observations kept brief by a moderator not prepared to put up with off-topic and rambling diatribes from frustrated filmmakers taking the debate as an opportunity to whinge. The popularity of the ABC’s Q&A and the Sydney Morning Herald IQ debates reveal a desire on the part of a sizeable section of the Australian public for civilized dialogue about contentious issues of concern to all involved. It is wonderful to see those in these debates, though they be on different sides of the political or ideological divide, treating each other with both respect and, often, with humour and affection. It would be great to see this occur within the film community.

After ninety minutes or so of formal debate and discussion, all present mingle and, beers or glasses of wine in hand, continue to debate, discuss and meet fellow film practitioners whose names might be familiar but when they have never met. If the funding bodies get involved (as I suspect they would if they felt they were not going to be under attack) this would also provide an opportunity for film bureaucrats and filmmakers to meet each other in a social context that could help break down the barriers that Doug refers to.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Is THE GREAT GATSBY an Australian film?

Baz Luhrman’s GREAT GATSY is in the news again, as it will be on and off for months to come. The questions remain:

"What will Australian taxpayers get for their $40 million contribution to the coffers of Warner Brothers - an American producer of film and television entertainment whose primary market is the United States?"

"What will NSW taxpayers get for their $10 million contribution to Gatsby’s budget – or whatever the amount might be?" (The size of the investment is a secret which, in itself, should be a scandal. How can the state government essentially give away up to $10 million and reveal no details!?)

That a substantial part of Gatsby’s $120 million budget was spent in Australia was good news in the short term for the film technicians who worked on it and for the providers of other services required in its production - but was it good news, in the long term, for the Australian film industry? Short term gains versus long term viability?

Why is it important that we have an Australian film industry?  Would it really matter if the federal and state governments stopped subsidising it and allowed it to die a natural death as other inefficient industries are? (The Chinese could, after all, make Australian films for a fraction of the cost!) Or if, for whatever reason, we feel that an Australian film industry is in some way important to our culture, are there ways in which $50 million of taxpayers’ money (or whatever the secret sum is) might be better spent?

The word ‘industry’ is problematic - conjuring up, as it does, a product for which there are identifiable consumers and from which a profit is expected to accrue. Virtually no Australian films make a return on the investment in them (the Australian taxpayer being a major investor) and to pretend that they ever will is to delude ourselves and lead to the wrong questions being asked.

Imagine if we referred to ‘the Australian ballet industry’, ‘the Australian Opera industry’, the ‘Sydney Symphony Orchestra industry’, ‘the poetry industry’ and so on. As industries they are all abject failures so why do we bother to subsidise them? And why, leaving the arts aside for a moment, do we as a nation massively subsidize athletes who will compete in the Olympics in a few months? If we were to think in terms of the ‘athletics industry’, conversation about the role that these athletes will play in our national life becomes skewed in a way that most would find laughable. And yet we cling to the word ‘industry’ doggedly.

Drop ‘industry’ and think only in terms of ‘Australian film’ and the questions become both more interesting and more pertinent. Baz Luhrman’s GATSBYA may well be a box office hit. It might be a masterpiece. It will not, however, be an Australian story told for Australian audiences and reflecting aspects of our own culture for the benefit of present or future generations of Australians. It will an American story with zero relevance to Australia above and beyond the relevance that all great cinema (all great art) has for mankind in general.

So, how might Gatsby’s $50 million of Australian and NSW taxpayers’ money be better spent to nurture the production of Australian films that speak to and of being Australian? In this new digital era in which it is possible to produce feature films for comparatively low budgets and to distribute and broadcast these on a variety of different platforms. As PARANORMAL ACTIVITY revealed a few years ago (budget $11,000, worldwide box office in excess of $100 million) if a story captures the imagination of the audience, it matters little whether it is shot on widescreen 70 mm or with a mobile phone.

But that’s just a one-off, like the Blair Witch Project, it might be argued. Fair enough. How about The Kids are Alright - budget $4 million, worldwide box office $30 million. Yes, the film was undoubtedly helped at the box office by the presence of film stars (Annette Benning, Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska) but why did they choose to work on the film for a fraction of their usual fee? Because it was a terrific screenplay. Could we make 10 Australian films of the calibre of The Kids are Alright (with or without stars) for the cost, to the tax-payers of one Great Gatsby? Yes, if there were 10 screenplays as good (why there are not is an important question but space does not allow it to be gone into here).

Regardless of the precise amount of money invested by Australian tax-payers in GATSBY the question remains: Might this sort of money be better spent in terms of fostering both the industry and culture of Australian film? This is a debate which it seems to me should be in the forefront of our thinking all of the time – even if it turns out that GATSBY is a huge hit and that Australian tax-payers get a financial return on their investment.

Looking backwards is usually problematic but at times it is worth considering where we have come from and why we have been on this journey at all. Harking back to the days when political parties on both sides of the political divide felt that Australian film was important provides us with a context within questions about Australian film (both the industry and culture) can, and I believe should, be asked today.

As far back as 1963 the Senate Select Committee Report on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for television felt that there was “a responsibility to protect an industry with a strong cultural element”. In the late 60s and early 70s the various bodies involved in providing the industry with a philosophical base stressed that:

 “(T)he industry (should be) pre-eminently Australian in character, not dominated by other cultures; that government sponsorship would support ‘film and television projects of quality’ and produce ‘distinctively Australian’ films that would ‘provide the Australian people with a national voice and a record of their way of life”.

The Report of the Interim Board of the Australian Film Commission declared that:

“Australia, as a nation, cannot accept, in this powerful and persuasive medium, the current flood of other nations’ productions on our screens without it constituting a very serious threat to our national identity. The Commission should actively encourage the making of those films of high artistic or conceptual value which may or may not be regarded at the time as conforming to the current criteria of genre, style or taste, but which have cultural, artistic or social relevance.

Some may not become commercially successful ventures, but these may include films which posterity will regard as some of the most significant films made by and for Australians. Profit and entertainment on the one hand and artistic standards and integrity on the other, are not mutually exclusive. In the long term the establishment of a quality Australian output is more important for a profitable, soundly based industry that the production exclusively as what might be regarded as sure fire box office formula hits.”

I believe that these inspirational words are worth bearing in mind today as we debate the pros and cons of investing 10s of millions of tax-payer dollars in films that are not in any way Australian – as is the case with GATSBY.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

letter to Ombudsman 25th May

Ms Alison Larkins
Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman
GPO Box 442, Canberra                                                                                    25th  May 2012

Dear Ms Larkins
                                                            re 2010-118398

If I were obliged to reduce my request for assistance from the office of the Ombudsman to one simple question it would be: Please ask Ruth Harley to quote one sentence, one paragraph, one email, one letter to a member of her staff that contains anything that could be construed, by even the most sensitive or Screen Australia employee, as posing a risk to them.

If Harley can produce just one sentence, one phrase, a few words that are evidence of my having harassed or intimidated her staff or placed them at risk,  both my case and my credibility are greatly weakened. I have lied. I am a liar.

I imagine, from time to time, that the office of the Ombudsman reviews its modus operandi. I would like to suggest that a ‘fast lane’ be implemented (as in supermarkets)  for people such as myself who really only require someone in the relevant position of authority (the office of the Ombudsman, for instance) to ask a simple question: “Ms Harley, could you please identify the dates on which Mr Ricketson communicated with Screen Australia by either email or in a letter in the manner you refer to in your letter of 10th May banning him from having any contact with Screen Australia?”

If Harley produces the correspondence no further investigation is required by your office, thus saving precious time that could be better spent on more weighty matters.

The same could have applied 17 months ago when Elisa Harris failed to ask of Fiona Cameron the one question that could have resolved this matter in half an hour: “Please, Ms Cameron, could you provide me with the dates and modes of transmission of the correspondence you refer to in your letter of 12th Nov 2010?”

Please, Ms Larkins, get someone to call Ruth Harley and ask her the one question mentioned above. If Harley cannot produce the correspondence, my complaint is clearly worthy of having more questions asked in relation to it.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Last week I suggested in ‘A simple solution’ an equitable way not only to resolve my own dispute with Screen Australia but a way that other filmmakers who find themselves at loggerheads with the organization could resolve their disputes.

My suggestion has been ignored by Screen Australia. The front page of today’s Sydney Morning Herald carries a story entitled DOUBLE MEDIATION ORDERED FOR DIVORCE. “Divorcing couples will be asked to undergo further mediation before having their case heard in court,” the article begins. Having been recently divorced by Screen Australia on the flimsiest of pretexts, this seems like a good idea to me. Okay, so the marriage between James Ricketson and Screen Australia has not been a particularly happy one but I feel as though I have been divorced on the grounds of infidelity without my partner providing any evidence at all that I have been unfaithful! “The move, for cases not resolved at earlier, compulsory conciliation, is to be trialled for about 110 couples…” Compulsory conciliation! Where do I sign up? This seems like an excellent idea to me – especially when the stakes are as high as they are in this case. “Parties would be ‘invited to participate’ but if they do not, they would have to explain in court why mediation was not appropriate.” Could Glen Boreham or Simon Crean please invite Screen Australia to participate in a mediation process or explain why it is not appropriate? The story goes on, “The Family Court Justice Garry Watts said: ‘The courts want to explore all avenues of possible resolution, particularly without the emotional strain and costs associated with having a fully defended trial.” Any lessening of the emotional strain – for both Screen Australia staff and myself – would, I am sure, be welcome by all involved.  The final paragraph reads, “The point of mediation is that both parties want to reach an agreement and that they enter into mediation voluntarily and with that goal in mind.”

Please Ruth, Fiona, agree to take part in a conciliation/mediation process overseen by someone who has no vested interest in the outcome but who is interested in the known facts only. 

Ruth Harley, please either sue me or apologize

It is a source of constant amazement to me that Glen Boreham and the Screen Australia Board have not said to Fiona Cameron and Ruth Harley:

“Either produce the correspondence you claim he has written and make Ricketson look like a liar and a fool in public and sue him for defamation or admit now that the correspondence does not exist and apologize to him for giving him the runaround this past 17 months.”

The problem with the latter course of action, of course, is that is raises the question:

“Why on earth has the Screen Australia Board, in full possession of the facts for 17 months, allowed the absurd situation to arise in which a filmmaker is banned from even talking to anyone at Screen Australia on what are clearly trumped up charges?”

A last minute apology would leave the Board of Screen Australia, along with Harley and Cameron with a lot of egg on their faces. The former course of action, suing me, is fraught with difficulties also. Screen Australia would be obliged, in any court action, to produce the correspondence it claims “places our staff at risk” and which amounts to “harassment and intimidation. The Screen Australia Board knows that such correspondence does not exist and whilst it is able to hide its complicity in my banning by remaining silent, silence will not be an option available to it in a court of law, tribunal or board that might hear the matter.

Ruth Harley claims that my “public statements in relation to our staff have also caused distress, and appear to be calculated to damage the reputation of individuals and this organization.” This is worth a closer look. The reputation of an individual or an organization (myself and Screen Australia in this case) is the byproduct of their actions, not of their words. If I have harassed, intimidated or placed Screen Australia staff at risk it is only right and proper that my reputation should suffer as a result if the relevant correspondence sees the light of day. Having consistently denied having harassed, intimidated or placed anyone at risk, such correspondence would  leave me open to the valid accusation that I have played fast and loose with the truth. Or, to use the terminology I prefer, that I am a liar.

Let’s just say, for arguments sake, that the correspondence, when released (as it will be one day) reveals that I am a liar. Public statements about me to that effect will be made and these will cause me a great deal of distress. However, it will by my own actions, my own lies, that have brought this distress upon myself and I should expect no sympathy from anyone. Likewise, if I cause Harley and Cameron distress by calling them liars and it is demonstrated that the correspondence they refer to does not exist (ie, they lied), they will have brought the distress upon themselves and should expect no sympathy.

It is worth adding here that the only recipients of letters or emails from me who might have been ‘distressed’ by their contents are members of senior management at Screen Australia – Ross Mathews, Fiona Cameron and Ruth Harley. There is only one member of Screen Australia staff to whom I have written emails that might have caused distress who is not a member of senior management. Here is the first email, name redacted for the time being, written three months into this dispute – to someone who was (and remains) in a position to either confirm or deny my version of what occurred in and around the time of my first application for development funds for CHANTI’S WORLD.

This was written on  24th Feb 2011

“Dear XXX

It is a great shame that I should ever have been put in the position of having to ask you to verify my account of what occurred with CHANTI'S WORLD. Or not verify it, as the case may be.  It is a great shame that Ross (Mathews) and Julia (Overton), through their silence, left me with no option but to ask you. However, given that I did ask and given that you have been all along in a position to refute or verify my account, it is disappointing that you have kept your silence. Perhaps you have been told to by Fiona (Cameron). Perhaps you will be obliged to forward this email on to her - the black hole within Screen Australia into which difficult questions disappear.

I am copying this to Rachel Perkins in the hope that either she may call you and ask a few pertinent questions or that you may call her and volunteer the information.

Perhaps Screen Australia hopes, if it ignores my questions for long enough, at every level up to the Board, that the problem my questions speak to will magically disappear. And perhaps it will, but the fat lady hasn't quite sung yet!”

I waited 8 months before writing a follow-up email to this Screen Australia employee. In the absence of a resolution by the end of the week (an apology and a retraction of false allegations), I will publish it next Monday. It is not something that I want to do (it will cause distress) but I have very few weapons with which to fight this battle at present other than this blog – especially now that Encore has effectively banned any further online discussion about it. Perhaps, if I continue with my blog long enough it will eventually dawn on someone (Screen Australia Board, Simon Crean, the Ombudsman) to ask Harley and Cameron to produce the correspondence that will confirm that I have been lying all along about its non-existence. Or, alternatively, that Harley and Cameron have been lying about its existence.

A few words are in order about Encore, whose editor (Tim Burrows) has decided to terminate the thread of comments following the article published a couple of weeks ago. A couple of points. When the article appeared it contained one error that I asked, by way of a comment, to be corrected. It was:
To set the record straight, ENCORE, I have NEVER complained about my documentary project not receiving funding. I did, however, complain that in the process of assessing a development application 2 years ago, Screen Australia (by its own admission) failed to view the ‘promo’ that contained, in 8 minutes, 15 years in the life of the central character in the documentary…etc.”
 The comment was not published. In an email to Tim Burrows I asked him to correct the error:

“It is four days now since I pointed out to you and Colin that my complaint about Screen Australia was NOT that it had refused to fund my documentary. I have never made such a complaint about this or any other project of mine every in 40 years of filmmaking. This was an understandable mistake but one that should have been corrected by allowing my comment to be published.  Screen Australia's most common response to any critic is that he or she is embittered by rejection and not publishing a correction in this case feeds right into Screen Australia's modus operandi.

Even at this late date I would appreciate that my comment be published or that there be some acknowledgment that my complaint is not about not receiving funding but about the shoddy assessment I received - one which did not include the assessor (or anyone else in the Screen Australia documentary section) actually viewing the promo that was the centrepiece of my application.”

Tim did not respond to this request for a correction.

My complaint to Screen Australia vis a vis CHANTI’S WORLD had to do with due process. All that I ever asked for was an apology from Ross Mathews and Claire Jager for having assessed my project without viewing my ‘promo’ and an apology from Fiona Cameron for placing (and allowing to remain) on file a statement that she knew to be untrue vis a vis correspondence.

I have never been able to figure out the reason why Encore censors some comments and not others. The following, written yesterday in response to ‘Trevor’ was censored:
“Yes, Trevor, lots and lots of egg if the correspondence is released and it becomes clear that I have been playing fast and loose with the truth all along!

As for the Craig Thompson comparison, at least we know from evidence made public just what it is that he has been accused of. That I have placed Screen Australia staff at risk is a very vague charge and one that conjures up all sorts of unpleasant images. Such a serious charge requires, at the very least, some evidence in support of it. I have been asking for close to two weeks now for evidence that I have written the correspondence Harley refers to. To date my requests have fallen on deaf ears.”

I am not a lawyer but, for the life of me, I cannot fathom how this comment can be considered either libellous or defamatory! If it is, or if Screen Australia could run a case based on the premise that it was (and so intimidate Encore into practicing an extreme form of self-censorship), I fear for the quality of debate we will be able to have either in Encore or any other forum in which filmmakers toss around ideas or air their complaints.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ruth Harley's dilemma

Ruth Harley is confronted with a dilemma. If she sues me for defamation, as she has hinted Screen Australia might, she will have to identify the correspondence which, she claims, contains evidence that I have placed Screen Australia staff at risk. If the correspondence does not support Ruth’s claims it is she who will have a lot of egg on her face. The same applies to any form of conciliation or mediation that might occur and which I have suggested. This would also necessitate that an independent arbiter scrutinize the correspondence looking for evidence of harassment, intimidation and placing Screen Australia staff at risk. If no such evidence can be found, the conciliation route also has the potential to result in a lot of egg on Ruth’s face. More importantly, a lack of evidence in support of Ruth’s claims would raise the question: How is it that a filmmaker can be banned on the basis of correspondence that does not exist? Or, to put it another way: How is it that a filmmaker can be banned on the basis of correspondence that does not contain evidence of harassment, intimidation and placing Screen Australia staff at risk?

I had hoped that lodging a complaint with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal would at least force Ruth to identify the offending correspondence but to lodge a complaint would cost me in excess of $700 – money that I do not have.

Something else that would emerge from an independent enquiry would be that there is only one member of Screen Australia staff to whom I have sent emails who is not a member of senior management or Chair of the Screen Australia Board. With this one exception, all of my correspondence has been directed at Ross Mathews, Fiona Cameron, Ruth Harley and Glen Boreham. I have copied this correspondence to others in the documentary section of Screen Australia who have an interest in my dispute or who have played some small part in it. I could, if need be, publish my emails to the one staff member who is not a member of senior management but am loathe to do so – not because they contain evidence of the crimes for which I have been accused but because the publication of them would cause unnecessary hurt to someone who is actually an innocent bystander.

Excuse me for belabouring the point but in none of my letters or emails have I ever used abusive language or made threats of any kind. All that I have done is ask questions and requested that I be provided with answers based on facts and not spin. This will become apparent in the fullness of time one way or another.

Monday, May 21, 2012

letter to Glen Boreham, Chair, Screen Australia Board 22nd May 2012

Glen Boreham
Chair, Screen Australia Board
Level 4, 150 William St.
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                    22nd May 2102

Dear Glen

Your lack of a response to letters from me (the last being 19th March, published online at suggests that you have no doubts about the veracity of Ruth Harley’s claim that I am guilty of harassing, intimidating and placing at risk Screen Australia staff. Did Ruth Harley consult with yourself and the Board before taking the unprecedented step of banning a filmmaker from not only making applications but of speaking with anyone at Screen Australia? If the Screen Australia Board was consulted, did any member of it ask to see the correspondence Ruth Harley refers to in support of her ban? Or was the Screen Australia Board prepared to take Harley at her word? After all, why would the Chief Executive of Screen Australia make a claim about the existence of intimidating or harassing correspondence if it did not exist? To even ask Ruth to produce the correspondence would be an expression of lack of confidence in her! The same applies, going back 17 months, to the correspondence Fiona Cameron claimed I had written in relation to CHANTI’S WORLD. Did anyone on the Screen Australia Board (well aware as it was of my dispute) ask Fiona to produce the correspondence? Or was it presumed that Fiona would not make such a statement if the correspondence did not exist?  This is the presumption made by the office of the Ombudsman which, likewise, did not bother to ask to see the correspondence. Now, 17 months later, it looks as though no-one (Screen Australia Board, Office of the Ombudsman, the Hon Simon Crean) is going to ask Ruth Harley to produce the correspondence from me that she claims places her staff at risk. This is an extraordinary state of affairs. Has Screen Australia given up entirely on even maintaining the illusion of a commitment to the precepts of transparency and accountability? Add the fact that Fiona Cameron investigates complaints into her own behaviour (and refuses to communicate with the complainant!) and you have a perfect recipe for corruption to thrive – all of those who should be asking questions, demanding accountability, refusing to do so.

If the Screen Australia Board is to maintain any credibility in the transparency/accountability department could it please ask Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron to release the correspondence they refer to or extracts thereof that provide evidence of my harassment, my intimidation, my placing of members of Screen Australia staff at risk?

I trust that my continuing to write to you, despite the fact that you never acknowledge receipt of letters, let alone answer questions, is not seen as evidence of harassment of yourself by myself!

best wishes

James Ricketson

Sunday, May 20, 2012

letter to the Hon Simon Crean 21st May 2012

James Ricketson
316 Whale Beach Road
Palm Beach2108

The Hon Simon Crean
Department of the Environment, Water,
Heritage and the Arts
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

21st. May 2012

Dear Mr Crean

I have been banned by Ruth Harley, Chief Executive of Screen Australia, from making any applications for funding of any kind to the organization. I have been banned from even talking with members of Screen Australia staff. As far as I know, no other filmmaker in the history of Australian film has had such a ban placed on them. Ruth Harley has also, in her letter to me of 10th May, said that she will enter into no correspondence with me about her reasons for banning me; that any letters I write to Screen Australia will remain unread. She has also intimated that under certain circumstances the ban that has been placed on me might be lifted but has given me no clue as to what these circumstances might be. Given that she will nor correspond with me, will answer no questions, I have no way of knowing what I need to do to have the ban lifted. Kafkaesque is too mild an adjective to use to describe the scenario.

If I am guilty of the crimes Ruth Harley has accused me of, being banned from having any further dealings with Screen Australia is not an unreasonable response on her part. Indeed, depending on how serious my harassment, intimidation and placing of her staff at risk is (these are the charges against me), taking out an AVO on me would not be unreasonable. But what if I did not write the correspondence to which Harley refers? What if no such correspondence exists? What if I have been falsely accused? There is, of course, a very easy way of finding out. If the correspondence to which Harley refers exists, it will be on file and I will look very silly indeed, to say the least, for maintaining (over a period of 17 months in the case of one lot of correspondence) that it does not exist. On the other hand, if the correspondence does not exist, it would not be unreasonable to ask Harley if she is in possession of any other information that has led to her banning me.

Could you please ask Caroline Fulton (Acting Assistant Secretary, Creative Industries and Sector Development, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) to ask Ruth Harley to produce the correspondence she is referring to. If she cannot or will not produce the correspondence a whole host of questions arise that I trust someone within your ministry will ask. If Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron would like to identify on which dates I wrote the offending correspondence (in either emails or letters) I will publish it on my blog.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Response to Doug @ Encore

The following is a response to a longish comment by 'Doug' late last week  that was submitted to Encore but not published.


I had a conversation not too long ago with a fellow filmmaker who paid his dues, many years ago, as a film bureaucrat. He told me that twice, in his role as bureaucrat, he realized that he had made a wrong judgement. In both cases he called the applicant and invited them to come to the AFC and have a talk. In both cases the matters were resolved quickly and amicably. I had similar experiences with two Chief Executives a couple of decades ago – Kim Williams and Joe Skrznsky (forgive me Joe if I’ve spelt your name wrong!). Over a cup of coffee we chatted about whatever the issue was and either agreed or agreed to disagree and parted friends. Yes, times have changed and perhaps such face to face meetings are no longer feasible but in disputes such as my own (especially when the stakes are as high as they are) it should be possible for a resolution to be arrived at quickly and with both sides agreeing to abide by the decision made by the Conciliator. There is no-one within the Ministry for the Arts who can pay this role or who is prepared to play this role. And it is not the way the office of the Ombudsman works. I suggested to the Ombudsman right at the outset what I have suggested today on my blog – a disinterested third party who is concerned only with verifiable facts. It could not be done. The argument might be presented that it would waste too much of Screen Australia’s precious time if it were to engage in the kind of dispute resolution I am suggesting. I would argue that it would waste much less (considerably less) time for such conciliation processes to be embarked upon. But even more important that the time wasted on exercises such as the one I am engaged with SA is the erosion of good will that occurs in the process – filmmakers resentful at being ignored, not having their letters responded to and so on; bureaucrats resentful at being continually criticized for this and that. I tried, last year, to organize a film forum at which filmmakers, bureaucrats, all involved in the industry, could debate the multifarious issues that confront us all – no matter which side of the table we sit on. The format could have been somewhat like Q & A – program which, for the most part, manages to present opposing views of contentious subjects without the panellists going for each other’s throats. In short, civilized dialogue/debate between people with opposing views. Screen Australia declined to take part. A pity, because I think that such dialogue/debate would make everyone (filmmakers and film bureaucrats alike) realize that we are all in the same boat and for the some reasons – to make the best possible films we can. Sometimes we’ll succeed and sometimes we won’t. And when we don’t, lets talk about (if need be argue about) why.
I happened to be present for what I think was the very first meeting of the new SBS after Bruce Gyngell took the helm. There were a dozen or so of us in the room. Bruce said, (and these are pretty close to his exact words) “Seven out of ten of the decisions I make will be good ones and three will not. This is the reality of the business we are in.” The problem as I see if with Screen Australia (and my own experience is just one example of it) is that there is no willingness on the part of the organization to accept that it ever makes mistakes. It’s not just Screen Australia, of course. We see it in the area of federal politics – the use of ‘spin’ to paper over mistakes rather than the simple admission, “Hey, we got that wrong. Well try hard not to make the same mistake again.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A simple solution

Regardless of who is right and who is wrong in my dispute with Screen Australia one thing is clear: it has gone on for much too long and is wasting the time and energy of too many people. There should be some mechanism whereby a quick and equitable resolution can be reached. It could have happened 15 months ago. It could happen next week. Here’s how it could work. A Conciliator is called in who has no connection with Screen Australia or myself and no vested interest in the outcome – a cross between Judge Judy and a marriage guidance counsellor. S/he would be interested in verifiable facts only. Present at the meeting would be myself, Ross Mathews, Liz Crosby Fiona Cameron and, perhaps, on  skype, Claire Jager in Melbourne.

CONCILIATOR James, you have called Fiona a liar in public. Why?
JAMES Because Fiona claimed in November 2010 that I had placed correspondence on file that I claim does not exist.
CONCILIATOR Fiona, does the correspondence exist?
FIONA Yes, I have it with me.
JAMES Why have you waited 17 months…?
CONCILIATOR James, you’ll have an opportunity to have your say.

CONCILIATOR looks at correspondence.

CONCILIATOR Well, James, it certainly does seem from your letters and emails that you came away from the meeting with Ross and Julia in August 2010 in the belief that your project was to receive development funding and that Fiona was merely stating verifiable facts in her letter of Nov 2010? Do you have anything to say?
JAMES I’d completely forgotten that I wrote that! I’m sorry, Fiona, I’ve really cocked up badly here. I don’t know what else to say! This is very embarrassing!


CONCILIATOR Fiona, do you have copies of the correspondence you claim in your letter of Nov 2010 that James wrote with you?
CONCILIATOR Does the correspondence exist?
FIONA I have not been able to locate it, but it was my understanding…
CONCILIATOR But James has been asking you for 17 months to produce the correspondence! Why, when you realized that you could not, did you not apologize for making an error and correct the files accordingly? Do you have anything to say to James?
FIONA Yes, I should have done so. I’m sorry James.
JAMES Apology accepted, Fiona.

On the question of whether or not Ross, Julia or Claire had seen the ‘promo’ for Chanti’s World

CONCILIATOR Ross, Julia, Claire, Liz, you are aware that James has been claiming for 17 months that you admitted, Ross, that neither you nor Claire had seen his promo before a decision was made to knock back his application. Is James’ recollection accurate? In line with your own?
ROSS No, Claire and I both saw James’ promo.
CONCILIATOR So, Liz, when James says that you overheard Ross admitting he had not seen the promo, is he mistaken?
LIZ I have no recollection of hearing Ross admit to seeing the promo.
JAMES            But, why Ross, Liz, have I had to wait 17 months for you to answer this question? I asked it so many times!
CONCILIATOR That’s a good question, James, but not really relevant to the central question of whether or not Screen Australia is justified in banning you.


CONCILIATOR Did any of you view James’ promo before a decision was made regarding his first Chanti’s World application.
ROSS I don’t recall seeing it.
CLAIRE I can’t be sure.
LIZ Ross did admit to not seeing it whilst I was in the room.

Yes, there are lots of tributaries that could be explored in this dispute (and bureaucratic clouds of obfuscation that could be thrown up) but this is the essence of it. I have fought for my right to have such a conciliation meeting held by an independent arbiter and, yes, I have written many letters insisting that the matter be cleared up on the basis of facts and not merely assertions. The correspondence Fiona and Ruth claim to have on file either exists or it does not.

A meeting along the lines described above could happen next week. I would suggest that such a conciliation meeting occur as soon as possible and that all present agree with whatever findings the Conciliator arrives at and that the matter to be put to rest once and for all. If I am guilty as charged, Screen Australia’s ban is not an unreasonable one. If I am not guilty as charged an apology is in order.

As for the question of whether or not Fiona Cameron investigates complaints about Fiona Cameron (at least in this instance) the Conciliator needs merely to read, in the Screen Australia file, the correspondence between myself, Fiona Cameron, Ruth Harley and Glen Boreham.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Soap Opera continues!

The quality of my screenplays, the potential of my projects to reach an audience, is of secondary importance to Screen Australia than that some member of its staff may feel at risk as a result of having to read correspondence from me or talk to me. And this is because of claims made by Ruth Harley for which she provides no evidence at all and which she will discuss no further.  As far as ‘talking’ is concerned (talking with me posing a risk to Screen Australia staff!) I have had only one conversation with anyone at Screen Australia regarding CHANTI’S WORLD, just before the dispute proper began – in Sept 2010. This was with Ross Mathews, Julia Overton and (for part of the meeting) Liz Crosby. The meeting was amicable. There were no raised voices, no threats, no intimidation, no making of anyone feel at risk as a result of my behaviour.  Ross, Julia and Liz would, if they were asked, confirm this. Fiona Cameron and Ruth Harley know that this was both an amicable and (it seemed at the time) a productive meeting. There has been no other meeting with anyone from Screen Australia since August 2010 There has not been one telephone conversation between myself and anyone at Screen Australia. In short, no opportunity for me to make anyone feel at risk. If anyone were to ask Ruth Harley (or Ross Mathews, Julia Overton or Liz Crosby) if what I write here is true, they would receive no answer at all. This is because the true answer, of which all four are aware, would be, “James is right. The meeting was an amicable one.” Other than Ross not responding to my letters (subsequent to the one published yesterday) the real problems began when Fiona Cameron decided to attribute to me (in writing, on file) a totally untrue motive for lodging a complaint with Ross about Julia Overton’s breach of the agreement we had arrived at in the meeting. This is all well documented and I will not bore the reader with the details. I will, however, bore the reader with a copy of a letter of the kind that Ruth Harley claims amounts to harassment, intimidation and placing the staff member at risk. It’s contents will be of interest only to anyone in search of a sue of wording on my part that is evidence of the intimidation and harassment of which Ruth Harley has accused me.

Liz Crosby
Screen Australia
Level 4, 150 William St.
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                                10th.Jan 2011

Dear Liz

The new year has begun and, after four months of asking, I can still not get an answer from Ross or Julia to a simple (but critical) question relating to the appropriateness or otherwise of my CHANTI’S WORLD development application. Given that I have no intention of dropping this, despite Ross and Julia’s stonewalling and Fiona’s Cameron’s determination not to lets the facts influence her in any way, I am hoping that you may be able to help resolve this matter.

You cannot know precisely, of course, what was said by whom at the 25th. August meeting but you were present for the last five or so minutes of it and are well aware that it ended amicably - with the problems relating to Julia’s refusal to acknowledge receipt of letters or answer questions, over a period of three months, resolved. (Or so it seemed!)  What is your understanding of what had been resolved? It is my contention that, in relation to CHANTI’S WORLD, it was agreed that I would make a development application, the clear implication being that such an application would be ‘appropriate’ – several of my questions of Julia over a period of a few months having had to do with ‘appropriateness’. Some weeks later Julia declared that my application had been ‘inappropriate’. Both propositions cannot be correct!

If I was not pleased with the outcome of the meeting with Ross and Julia as a result of the resolution I have described many times, what was it that I was pleased with? I would certainly not have been pleased if the outcome had been that a CHANTI’S WORLD application from me was ‘inappropriate’. Nor would I have made an application if this is what I had been told.

Given what seems to be Elisa Harris’ refusal to even ask Ross and Julia if my account of what was said in the meeting is accurate or not (and, needless to say, Fiona’s similar lack of interest in this vital question) could you please let both me and the Ombudsman’s office know what your recollection is of the resolution of the 25th. August meeting? Why was I pleased? If not with the fact that I would be able to apply with CHANTI’S WORLD, with what?

Yes, I know that Fiona has said that all future communication on this matter must be with her but Fiona has also made it quite clear, in writing, that she has no intention of communicating any further on this matter – a bureaucratic sleight of hand worthy of ‘Yes Prime Minister’, ‘Monty Python’ and, of course, the novels of Franz Kafka.

I have attached a copy of my 5th. Jan letter to Elisa Harris in the Ombudsman’s office. It speaks for itself. I am copying this to Elisa in hopes you and she might, at least, speak on the telephone and move this matter closer to a resolution based on facts and not on suppositions made by Elisa about Fiona’s thought processes.


James Ricketson
cc Elisa Harris, Ombudsman’s office