The Secret Life of Us: articles

Secret Life's legal strife

CHANNEL Ten's hit drama, The Secret Life of Us, is the subject of a contempt of court complaint after allegedly lifting material for an episode from an ongoing court case.

Lawyer Rob Stary today confirmed he had lodged a complaint with the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) about an episode of the show that depicted union officials terrorising non-union contractors.

Mr Stary's client, former metals union boss Craig Johnston, is awaiting trial on charges relating to the alleged storming of a Melbourne tile factory with colleagues.

The episode screened last month involved union official Gabrielle, played by Sibylla Budd, being outraged by the militant actions of workmates.

Mr Stary told the Melbourne County Court the episode was a crude embellishment of the case, and such incidents could result in his client not receiving a fair trial.

The recently aired show could have been "lifted from the deposition'', Mr Stary said.

The court heard Johnston, then secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, and 15 colleagues had staged a ``run through'' at Johnson Tiles, after the company laid off workers and outsourced the work to a labour hire firm in June 2001.

Prosecutor Bob Johnson (Johnson) said that, during the incursion, non-union workers were grabbed and photographed, for the purpose of compiling a so-called "shame board''.

Mr Johnson said employees, including a woman who was six-months pregnant, were left ``severely traumatised'' after the balaclava-clad group upended computers and pushed over tiles.

Johnston has reserved his plea on a charge of unlawful assembly, and has pleaded not guilty to charges of affray, making a threat to kill, and false imprisonment He will stand trial in May next year.

A spokeswoman for the OPP would not comment on the complaint.

Comment was not immediately available from Channel Ten.

By Susan Murdoch
July 22, 2003
The Daily Telegraph