The miner is Robert Cramond, who quit the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union on August 4, 2008, after a dispute over the union's successful push to change the way BMA paid a $250-a-week rental subsidy.
The union official is Kevin Adams, a member of the executive of the Peak Downs lodge and the first to talk to Mr Cramond about reuniting with the collective fold.
Mr Adams approached Mr Cramond at 6.15am just before a shift on August 21, 2008. He invited the disgruntled former unionist outside to discuss his resignation.
In the wake of that conversation, Mr Cramond went to management of Peak Downs to make a formal complaint.
The court was told file notes taken in that meeting were translated into a statement in which Mr Cramond said he felt "threatened", that Mr Adams was trying to force him to rejoin the union and that "Kevin was trying to intimidate" him.
It seems likely that only five other people besides Mr Cramond saw that statement, two BHP staff, Mr Adams and two fellow union officials. In January 2009, employer BHP Mitsubishi Alliance told Mr Adams there was insufficient evidence to support the defendant's allegations and, with that, Mr Adams's lawyers demanded a retraction and apology on the basis the statement was defamatory.
By August, when Mr Cramond had not responded to this demand, Mr Adams filed a defamation action that was eventually amended to limit the damages claim to $250,000.
Late last month, a Queensland District Court judge dismissed Mr Adams's action after finding that the "matter published was in fact true". In a judgment delivered on June 24, judge Douglas McGill decided: "What matters is whether, on the occasion in question, the plaintiff's behaviour in fact physically threatened the defendant. I find on the evidence . . . that it did."
The judge dismissed claims that Mr Cramond's complaint was the product of malice and noted that even had he found for Mr Adams, assessment of damages would have been nominal.
"Had it been necessary for me to award damages, I would have awarded nominal damages in the sum of $100."
The CFMEU did not respond to The Australian's request for comment yesterday, while Mr Cramond's employer, BMA, said he was on extended leave and had not made a decision about his future employment.
View The Australian article here