Lawsuit against National Film & Sound Archives

Government archives the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia is facing a lawsuit after it loaned rare transfer equipment to a business that was a rival of the man who had given it to them.

John Flanagan from Broadcast Transfers is suing the archives for $250,000 in losses and damages.

He donated specialised program transfer equipment, which transfers quadruplex videos to digital, to the Canberra-based library.

But Fairfax reports he was horrified to learn it had been loaned to one of their former employees who set up in business against him and was easily able to undercut him.

He claims to have lost his business, accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts and seen his health suffer.

Michael Loebenstein, the departing chief executive, said this happened before he was appointed to head the organisation. “That arrangement around the loan of the machine which is the cause of all of John’s grievances was done before I was on board,” he said.

“But, in brief, the more I looked into the issue, the less I liked what I saw. We don’t loan out the machine any more and won’t do so in the future.”

Joe Kelly, of DAMsmart, says the matter is “professional jealousy.”

A report by the Ombudsman in 2015 criticised the archive’s contract with DAMsmart, its lack of conflict of interest protocols in dealing with its former employee, and its inadequate handling of Mr Flanagan’s complaint.

“It’s his right to pursue legal action against us but we are very happy to meet him and work through the issues with him,” says Loebenstein.

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