Union bosses sue Boral pair over failed case
Construction union officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon have launched legal action accusing Boral executives Paul Dalton and Peter Head of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over the failed prosecution of the union bosses for blackmail.
In a writ filed in the Victorian Supreme Court, Mr Setka and Mr Reardon claim Mr Dalton and Mr Head caused the botched prosecution when they “provided false information to the police and withheld relevant information from the police”.
Mr Dalton, Boral’s general manager of innovation and transformation, and Mr Head, general manager of quarries, are also accused of false imprisonment by causing the arrest and detention of Mr Setka and Mr Reardon in early December 2015.
Mr Setka, the CFMEU’s Victorian state secretary, and Mr Reardon, his deputy, are seeking “exemplary and aggravated” damages from the Boral executives.
In a statement to The Australian, the CFMEU said that yesterday marked “three years to the day that John and Shaun were arrested on trumped-up charges”. “The union has requested its lawyers to investigate their rights to bring to justice those who were responsible for this outrageous abuse of law,’’ the union said.
A Boral spokesman said the company had not been served but was “confident that Boral and our executives have always acted with the utmost integrity and honesty in this case and will continue to do so”.
Mr Setka and Mr Reardon were charged with blackmail after Boral boss Mike Kane “respectfully” suggested the trade union royal commission, headed by Dyson Hayden, refer the matter to police.
Mr Sekta and Mr Reardon were accused of threatening Boral during a coffee meeting in April 2013 with Mr Dalton and Mr Head, dealing with the union’s bitter war with construction company Grocon.
At the time, the CFMEU was running a secondary boycott of Boral over its supply of concrete to Grocon, an action that went on to cost it millions of dollars in fines and settlements with the company.
However, during a committal hearing in May this year, Mr Head gave evidence that the meeting was “calm” and “pleas- ant”. “There was no overt aggression, but there was certainly passion for the cause,” he told the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
After considering his and Mr Dalton’s evidence, prosecutors decided to drop the blackmail charge.
In the writ, filed on Tuesday by high-profile solicitor Peter Gordon, Mr Setka claims to have been held by police for “about two hours and 25 minutes” after being arrested in front of his two small children on December 6, 2015. Mr Reardon says he was held for three hours and 23 minutes.
Mr Dalton and Mr Head “engaged in conduct that amounted to a direct request, direction or procurement to the police to make the arrests” and “are to be regarded as having directly brought about the arrests”, the CFMEU men allege in their writ.
The union officials claim that in addition to providing false information to police, the Boral executives “set the criminal proceedings in motion” and played an active role in the conduct of the proceedings, including by putting “the police in possession of information which virtually compelled the police to bring criminal charges” and by “prejudicing” the judgment of prosecutors.