MEDIA RELEASE: Adani’s “trained attack-dog” legal strategy takes aim at community criticism and democratic freedoms through Pennings  

11 September 2020

The QLD Supreme Court decided in favour of Adani today, agreeing to issue interlocutory [temporary] injunctions against community advocate Ben Pennings.  Adani sought injunctions that would restrict Mr Pennings from engaging in advocacy about Adani by compelling him to remove social media posts, and to stop him from procuring, using and publishing whistleblower information about the mine project.

This case is the latest in a litany of litigation brought by Adani against those in the community who are critical of the controversial project, as part of a self-described “trained attack dog strategy” designed to silence criticism and clampdown on whistleblowers.

Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director and Founder of Grata Fund said,

‘Adani’s use of unethical litigation strategies to silence criticism by the community - this time advocate, Ben Pennings - is appalling. This latest lawsuit is not only an attack against Mr Pennings, but an attack on the public interest inherent in community members being able to voice concerns about projects that affect them - something that has long been part of the very fabric of Australian democracy.’

Community advocate Ben Pennings did not have legal representation and as a result was unable to provide evidence to defend himself against Adani’s arguments. Justice Martin said, “It follows, then, that the applicants’ [Adani’s] evidence is unchallenged and there was no reason advanced to do other than accept it”.

‘The orders sought by Adani are shocking, and come after the Supreme Court rejected two applications by Adani to secretly raid and search Mr Pennings’ family home. The continued attempts to aggressively use litigation to intimidate and silence community criticism, contrary to the public interest, is deeply concerning.’

There will be another hearing in the Supreme Court about whether the injunctions will be granted beyond the interlocutory stage.

Available for interview

Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director and Founder, Grata Fund 

Media contact, Belinda Lowe, 0428 805 696

Background 

Adani has sought the following injunctions, which were agreed to by the Supreme Court on an interlocutory basis: 

(a) compelling Mr Pennings to remove certain matters from identified social media accounts, 

(b) restraining him from publishing certain statements, 

(c) restraining him from seeking to induce or procure any person to disclose particular information to him, and 

(d) restraining him from using confidential or other information obtained by him through the campaigns mounted by him.

Decision is available to view here.