AMSJ » Activist accuses coal producer of hiring private investigator

Activist accuses coal producer of hiring private investigator

Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings
Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings

An environmental protestor claims a resources multinational appointed a freelance detective to secretly monitor his movements.

Benjamin Pennings recently accused Bravus Mining and Resources of hiring a private investigator to follow him and his loved ones.

The serial anti-coal demonstrator became outraged after discovering both he and his daughter was photographed on public property without their knowledge.

“When I was looking through some of the many many folders and there is a photo of me walking a 9-year-old girl to school. The fact they could follow your wife and kids around and that is legal – I did not know that was possible – [and] it is just extraordinary that they would even think about it, let alone do it,” he said in a video shared on YouTube.

Pennings is being sued for $17 million after allegedly posting unauthorised recordings of Bravus employees and using social media to pressure the proponent into abandoning the $2 billion Carmichael Coal Project, 160km northwest of Clermont. The company is seeking damages for legal expenses and costs associated with calling tenders for a new drilling contractor at the mine.

He claimed Bravus, formerly known as Adani Mining, also tried to search his private residence for its own commercially sensitive data. The judge ordered the Brisbane man to hand over his personal laptop, phone and other mobile devices to the proponent.

“They wanted to raid our house for two days, so they were applying to the Supreme Court in secret hearings to have a whole lot of people come through out house to try to find supposedly secret, confidential information about Adani they think we have,” he can be heard saying.

“I have let Adani go through my phone with an outside expert [and] through my laptop.”

Pennings blames the dispute for forcing him to raise $600,000 to cover court expenses and pay at least $86,579 in Bravus’ legal fees. He believes this “David versus Goliath fight” could even cost him his home.

“It is all about the bloody court case and … we are going to lose the building we made in the process,” he said.

However, Bravus accused the activist of harassing and intimidating its business, employees, contractors as well as potential business partners for almost a decade. The company claims it was completely within its legal rights to seek a private investigator.

“Pennings continues to misconstrue why two private investigators were hired. Their job was simply to confirm when Mr Pennings’ children would not be in his house to avoid a court order to search Mr Penning’s electronic devices for material related to the court case being carried out in front of them,” a spokesperson said in a public statement.

“[Surveillance] activities were undertaken legally and were nothing more than our proactive effort to avoid causing any unnecessary distress to Mr Pennings’ children.”

Nevertheless, multiple hosts from The Project television program openly defended Pennings and called him a protestor who was mistreated simply for speaking up.

“It is so appalling to see the treatment of activists and protestors who are just trying to do the right thing in Australia,” Georgie Tunny commented.

“Particularly when you are presenting to that individuals photographs secretly taken of their 9-year-old daughter – that is overstepping the mark,” Lisa Wilkinson added.

Worker comes forward after horse hospitalises anti-coal activist
Protestor owns up to ‘annoying’ coal workers to disrupt their ‘good life’
Anti-coal protestors lock on, dangle from conveyor
Activist loses lawsuit after dangling from coal handling machinery in North Qld.


Click here to post a comment

  • Like it or not, you have no expectation of privacy in a public space & therefore, anyone can take photos of you, your wife, your kids, your car, your dog, etc & this is perfectly legal as long as they are not used for commercial purposes.

  • Not much supporting info provided by the article the other than opinions and hearsay..
    What rights does the Company have to seek such demands???

    What legal channels has the
    ‘defendant’ excercised???
    Ie; has a Cease and Desist letter been sent to the company by the ‘defendants’ legal representative?

    And let’s not forget, a large corporation like this can claim some/all of its legal expenses as a business cost, individuals can not.
    So, even IF the corporation is forced to cover its own legal expenses and/or the reasonable legal expenses of the ‘defendant’ it is not ‘out of pocket’ like an actual person is/would be.

    We need some better form of oversight for the ability of these corporations to secure powers on Australian soil, over Australian citizens. (Wether they are employed by them or not)

    Too much favourable treatment is afforded to entities that make donations and/or lobby Fed and/or State levels of Gov. (Just look at how long it’s taking the Gov to do something tangible for its citizens with regards to the resource sector being able to rewrite the rule book on employment classes/definitions…. Not to mention the support given to them by ‘our’ media in attacking and vilifying the labour unions in this -and other pivotal- major economic sector(s)