Thursday evening I received a threatening letter from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of Labor Party Vice President Tony Sheldon in his capacity as National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union. The letter and its threats relate to 2 recent posts that I have done on who is paying Craig Thomson’s legal bills and his dodgy trust account.
People will send threatening legal letters to the media to have an article amended even if they have no right to do so. They are trying to use intimidation, which was my first thought when I received the letter. But there is another factor which is probably more likely in this case and that is the fact that the Victorian Police are now having a close look at the slush/trust fund that Craig Thomson’s father has set up and where the money is coming from. Looks like Mr Sheldon is a worried man.
The real shifty part of the lawyers letter is the fact that have failed to mention a more detailed post that I wrote titled “Money laundering the Labor Party and Union way.” on the 28th October 2012. In that post I wrote about Mr Sheldon and his involvement in money laundering, fraud and theft etc. as well as setting up a dodgy slush fund which ripped of workers. I have no doubt that Mr Sheldon and his lawyer have deliberately ignored that post as it is too hot to handle and makes a joke of the fact that Tony Sheldon is sending me a lawyers letter some 7 months after the post was published. (Click here to the read post)
The Maurice Blackburn letter – links to the posts added - (Click here to read the actual letter)
2 May 2013
Mr Shane Dowling
Private and Confidential
Re; Transport Workers Union of Australia and Tony Sheldon Defamation and Injurious Falsehood.
We act for the Transport Workers Union of Australia (“TWU”) and Tony Sheldon. Mr Sheldon is the Secretary of the TWU.
1. We have been provided with the following; a. A copy of an article published by you on your website ‘Kangaroo Court Australia” The article is titled “Craig Thomson MP – Who’s paying his legal bills? Which union is it” (“First Publication”). The date of the Publication is unclear, and; b. A copy of an article published by you on your website ‘Kangaroo Court Australia” on 1 May 2013. The article is titled “Craig Thomson sets up slush fund but calls it a trust fund to pay his legal bills”. (“Second Publication”).
2. The First Publication contains a number of imputations which would likely cause injury to the reputation of the TWU and Tony Sheldon.
3. Examples are as follows; a. …”The mail is it that the Transport Workers Union (TWU) have stepped in with a slush fund to help with the reddies (sic) needed to pay his legal expenses. The TWU is run by the well-known slush fund operator, fraudster, thief, money launderer and National Vice President of the Labor Party, Tony Sheldon. There is also mail that the AWU might have also set up a slush fund on the side to help Craig Thomson…” b. “..Tony Sheldon is the National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and is as corrupt as they come. This includes fraud, theft, setting up dodgy slush funds and laundering money out of NSW government departments and into Labor Party election accounts…” and c. “…The bottom line is Craig Thomson cannot pay his own legal costs. So in steps the fraudster and money man Tony Sheldon who has close links to both the HSU and Labor Party to solve the problem….” and
4. Example (a) above implies amongst other things that Mr Sheldon is a fraudster, thief, money launderer, and operates illegal funds both personally and on behalf of the TWU. It further implies that the TWU condones such activities. The imputations are entirely false, baseless and are strongly denied. They are extremely offensive to our clients.
5. Example (b) above implies amongst other things that Mr Sheldon is corrupt and engages in theft, fraudulent activities and money laundering. It further implies that the TWU is corrupt and condones theft, fraudulent activities and money laundering. These imputations are entirely false, baseless and are strongly denied. They are extremely offensive to our clients.
6. Example (c) above implies amongst other things that Mr Sheldon engages in fraudulent activities and is funding Mr Thompson’s legal fees. When read in context with entirety of the First Publication, the implication is that Mr Sheldon and the TWU are paying for Mr Thompson’s legal fees. These imputations are entirely false baseless and are strongly denied. They are extremely offensive to our clients.
7. The Second Publication refers to the TWU and has a link to the First Publication.
8. The First and Second Publication when read in their entirety imply amongst other things that the TWU and/or Mr Sheldon are corrupt, engage in illegal and/or fraudulent activities and are providing financial support to Mr Thompson in regard to his legal bills. These imputations are entirely false, baseless and are strongly denied. They are extremely offensive to our clients.
9. The scurrilous allegations in the First and Second Publications appear to have been made with a reckless disregard of the truth. You made no attempt whatsoever to contact the any official or employee of TWU including Mr Sheldon to speak with them about them the contents of the First and Second Publications prior to publication. There is no basis for any of the allegations and/or imputations. They are entirely false, baseless and are strongly denied. In these circumstances, the First and Second Publications give rise to a cause of action against you for defamation and/or injurious falsehood. There is no reasonable basis upon which a defamation action could be defended by you.
10. We demand that you do the following; a. immediately publish on your website a retraction of the First Publication and Second Publication in so far as they imply any improper conduct by Mr Sheldon and/or the TWU, and; b. immediately publish on your website an apology to TWU its members and Official and to Mr Sheldon, and; c. refrain from publishing any false and defamatory material regarding the TWU, its members and Officials officers, and/or Mr Sheldon.
11. We require a response setting out what steps have been taken to comply with the above within 48 hours of the date of this letter.
12. Should you not provide a satisfactory response and/or publish further false and defamatory material regarding our clients, they expressly reserve all their rights including commencing proceedings for defamation which may include seeking exemplary damages and indemnity costs. In the event that proceedings are commenced, they will rely upon this letter in any question of costs.
13. For the avoidance of doubt, this letter is to be construed as a “Concerns Notice” pursuant the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW) and its counterparts in other states and territories.
Michael Doherty (Enquiries: Tennille Baird – 02 8267 0953)
It says on Michael Doherty’s profile on his firm’s website “Michael is a tough negotiator who fights for his client’s rights” Well I suppose we’re about to find out how tough he is.
I regard the above letter as a breach of section 34.2 of the Solicitors Rules by Mr Doherty which states: A practitioner must not, in any communication with another person on behalf of a client: 34.2 make any statement that is calculated to mislead or intimidate the other person, and which grossly exceeds the legitimate assertion of the rights or entitlement of the practitioner’s client;
This site operates on a basis of writing the posts without fear or favour and certainly will not buckle because I get a lawyer’s letter from a grub like Tony Sheldon.
I have only ever received one other letter from a lawyer making similar threats and that was in relation to Kerry Stokes. I responded in the same manner and scanned in the letter and wrote a post titled “Kerry Stokes threatens legal action against blogger” telling him basically to get lost and I never heard from him again. (Click here to read the post)
Other than that there was a recent threat by Michael Smith but no lawyers letter.
I wonder if the above letter has been counter signed by Craig Thomson or the Labor Party?
It is scandalous that Tony Sheldon is using union members money to pay a lawyer to threaten this site and myself to try to hide his corrupt conduct.
Tony Sheldon has really boxed himself in. If he does not proceed with defamation action then it will not be a good look at all and if he does proceed he is in a lot of trouble. The last place Mr Sheldon ever wants to be is in a witness stand being cross-examined in relation to his corrupt and criminal conduct. Of course I will have to subpoena Craig Thomson if there is any proceedings as well as the details and bank accounts of the trust fund as well as subpoena other people and documents which would very revealing.
Why federal MP Craig Thomson is in so much trouble is that he sued Fairfax Media for defamation and they subpoenaed documents that showed his criminal conduct. Tony Sheldon must have a short memory because he is heading down the same path or at least making threats to.
But if the Victorian Police are hot on the trail of the Slush Fund / Trust Fund then maybe Tony Sheldon felt he had no choice to at least send a threatening letter. That way he can tell the police what I have said is defamatory and he is taking action when the reality is what I have said is the truth. It was reported Thursday (2/5/13) that the Victorian Police have taken an interest in the fund and that is the same day I received the letter. (Click here to read more)
Why would the police be investigating? One reason could be that the court has probably been misled to the true financial position of Craig Thomson which I previously raised in my post two weeks ago. (Click here to read)
The SMH have published a speech by Kate McClymont about the threats that journalists face by the likes of Tony Sheldon to try to shut them down and intimidate them.
“The nation’s wealthy and powerful have often used legal threats to stop journalists’ inquiries or at least to put the frighteners on them.”
“With the media industry in such dire financial straits this legal threat can prove too much for all but the largest of media organisations. Even then, with the bottom line to consider, the possibility of a multimillion-dollar law suit means press freedom has to dance a sorry jig with fiscal realities.”
“For smaller companies, freelancers and bloggers, freedom of the press is a wonderful concept but the prospect of personally funding a court action against the coffers of a business tycoon is not realistic.”
And “Litigations can have the unfortunate effect of making other media players gun-shy. Journalists and their bosses become wary of “litigious” people and are often reluctant to take them on.” (Click here to read more)
I am not intimidated by threatening letters from lawyers as you would expect given this a legal website. I regard the lawyers letter as recognition that this site is on the right track and doing good work. If Labor Party Vice President Tony Sheldon wants a fight then he will get one.
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