Adani launches legal proceedings against anti-coal activist
SEEKING to protect their rights and those of employees and contractors, Adani has launched legal proceedings against anti-fossil fuel activist Ben Pennings.
A civil damages case has today been filed in the Queensland Supreme Court.
In a statement released this morning, Adani said civil legal proceedings against anti-fossil fuel activist Ben Pennings was to ensure they could carry out legal and legitimate business activities free from intimidation and harassment.
"Adani is claiming that Mr Pennings has orchestrated a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation against Adani's business, employees, contractors and potential business partners spanning almost a decade," an Adani spokesperson said.
"This is not about inflicting hardship on Mr Pennings, rather we are protecting our rights to carry out our business and give regional Queenslanders a fair go in terms of jobs and contracting opportunities.
"This action has not been taken lightly, but is needed to ensure our business can continue to deliver jobs and opportunities to regional Queensland communities at a time when they were needed most."
The case pursues Mr Pennings, and potentially some of his associates, for compensation from the losses arising from for the commission of multiple torts against Adani including trespass on land, trespass against goods, inducing breach of contract and tort of intimidation.
Adani said this legal action did not seek to limit free speech.
"As we have repeatedly stated, we believe a diversity of views is an important part of democracy," they said.
"The civil legal action seeks to limit the campaign of alleged harassment and intimidation orchestrated by Mr Pennings against our business that aims to prevent us from legally and legitimately pursuing our commercial interests.
"Adani is alleging that Mr Pennings has been instrumental in organising blockades and the occupation of offices and industrial premises of many of our existing and potential suppliers, as well as some organisations that have absolutely no association with Adani."
Adani claimed that he had caused distress to workers whose offices he had entered and he had used intimidation in an attempt to force meetings with executives.
"He has live-streamed video of our employees and our contractors and used their images without their consent or knowledge across social media channels in an alleged attempt to belittle and intimidate them," they said.
"After almost a decade of this type of intimidation we are saying enough is enough and we are exercising our legal rights to put an end to this obsessive and, in some cases, dangerous behaviour."
Adani is also seeking permanent injunctions against Mr Pennings and any of his associates who have been involved in tortious activities against Adani.
"The injunctions do not in any way seek to inhibit speech or 'activism', for so long as those activities do not constitute torts against Adani's activities in the future," they said.
Mr Pennings will have the opportunity to challenge every claim put forward by Adani.
Construction of the Carmichael Mine and Rail project commenced in June 2019 and works are continuing in line with COVID-19 restrictions.
Throughout the construction phase of the project, activists have repeatedly sought to disrupt Adani's operations, blockading entry and exit points to our mine camp and access roads.
"While this behaviour has had no immediate impact on our progress, it has put our employees, contractors and the activists themselves in potential danger," Adani said.