Sunday, 14 September 2008

Griffithgate: let's ask the experts

Astute readers of this blog may recall the outcome from my application under the Freedom of Information Act to know the names of the three examiners responsible for the bizarre marks of my honours thesis (see Griffithgate: One dead, two to go).

Not only were the results ambiguous, they further hinted at attempts by Griffith University to throw a veil over the affair. Since it is not within my nature to block the traffic protesting nor aim a blow to the vice-chancellor's head (I leave that to my more hot-blooded compatriots) one looks for other avenues.

Some time ago I was threatened with possible court action for defamation and bullying which did not eventuate. Nor was there such a response when I repeated what led to the threat in the first place (see An update... and then there was silence).

Being a mere layman as far as the law is concerned (my sense of ethics may allow me to comment on what is just, but the law and justice are like sports and fitness - the relation does not necessarily work both ways) I thought it would be a good idea to engage the experts.

Minter Ellison is a prominent law firm with offices in Brisbane. Griffith University happens to be one their clients. In a letter I briefly described the situation and asked whether under the conditions something like defamation was indeed inapplicable. Three weeks have passed and no response.

One would imagine given its association with the university the law firm would have something to say on the topic. Yet either my letter invited no consideration whatsoever or some communication did indeed eventuate between the two. In the latter case the advice, it is reasonable to assume, would fall on the side of the client.

Associations are a tricky business. They can be of mutual benefit but can also turn into a noose around both necks if one of them should be strung up. Lawyers may not always see it that way, but public life offers us certain examples in which erstwhile marriages dissolve into a form of amnesia with the previous link erased from the memory banks of one party should the other enter a state of opprobrium (and of course the media have a field day).

How far Minter Ellison would be prepared to go is anyone's guess, but comparing the status of Griffith with that of myself is not an altogether irrelevant exercise. While a few things come to mind via the keywords 'Griffith', 'vice-chancellor' and 'criminal' it is too early for the group with 'Minter Ellison' added to it. Then again, perhaps not.

In the same context letters were sent to Anna Bligh, state premier of Queensland, and Julia Gillard, federal minister for education, informing them about my ride in a police van from Griffith campus and the destruction of the two examiners' records. While the matter has been referred to the state's education minister, his federal counterpart has remained silent so far. Naturally it is not for me to prescribe the scope of a politician's interest.

In the meantime the general public is fed sweet bread in the form of ads run by Griffith [1] self-applauding its academic rigour on one hand and of the grand vision as presented by the state government - "strong, green, smart, healthy and fair" [2] on the other.

Further references:

1. Courier Mail, "The Griffith Honours College...", 30 Aug 08.

2. Courier Mail, "The ringmaster reflects", 13 Sep 08.

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