Union bosses sue Bo­ral pair over failed case

The Australian - - THE NATION - BEN BUT­LER EWIN HAN­NAN

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.

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