The Supreme Court heard remarkable accusations against a dairy farmer fighting his expulsion from the Victorian Farmers Federation today but his guilt or innocence won't decide whether he wins his case.
Former secretary of the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria's Corangamite branch Ian Morris was expelled from the VFF in April while campaigning for the presidency of the state dairy body.
Mr Morris launched legal action in a bid to reverse his ousting and the elections have been halted while the case plays out.
The VFF board contends it made the decision after a WestVic dairy meeting at the Camperdown Hotel on December 13 last year.
Both sides agree that Mr Morris and fellow south-west Victorian dairy farmer Peter Delahunty encountered each other in the men's toilets.
What's disputed is what happened between them next at the toilet doorway.
But, although that might have been at the heart of the issue, it won't be part of Justice John Dixon's decision making.
Disputed legal paperwork meant Mr Morris' barrister, Peter King, was unable to convince Justice Dixon that the truth of the accusations should be examined.
Neither Mr Delahunty or Lachlan Sutherland, who actually filed the complaint with the VFF, or any eye witnesses, were permitted to offer their evidence.
Instead, the case focuses entirely on whether the VFF followed the membership termination rules laid out in its own constitution.
Those rules say that any member facing termination must be given at least 30 days' notice, an explanation of the accusations against them and an opportunity to explain themselves to the VFF board.
Mr Morris's barrister argued he hadn't been told what he was alleged to have done wrong and didn't have the information needed to put his case to the board.
A letter sent to Mr Morris warning him of his impending expulsion on December 21 signed by VFF president Emma Germano and chief executive Jane Lovell made reference to the December 13 incident, writing, "... you were abusive towards a VFF member, including bullying and threatening behaviour".
It also said there had been "ongoing and repeated" breaches of the VFF's code of conduct.
Under cross examination, Ms Germano agreed the letter could have been "better written" but she and the VFF's lawyer Andrew Broadfoot QC maintained that subsequent correspondence meant Mr Morris had been given ample opportunity to set the record straight.
Mr King said the string of emails from Mr Morris seeking clarification showed otherwise and he also suggested that Ms Germano's preconceptions of Mr Morris had influenced the board's decision.
Justice Dixon said he would hand down his decision at a later date.
The VFF is also facing legal action from a second ousted member, Bruce Vallance, and it was revealed today that the board has also resolved to terminate Oonagh Kilpatrick's membership, although the decision is not yet final.