if you want to donate, or just keep up with what is happening
4th March 2020
We have just received JCU’s legal arguments for the appeal, and we have reopened the GoFundMe page. Note: there is a new link which is
This old page will no longer work.
JCU’s new legal documentation continues to argue that they had a right to stop me saying that a couple of Great Barrier Reef science organisations had insufficient Quality Assurance systems to give the public trust in their work. They claim their code of conduct, which is actually a free-speech straight jacket, gives them this power.
JCU’s legal argument is certainly sharper than in the original hearing and we will have to go over almost everything again, but we can’t see any knock-out punches. There will certainly be a great deal of work needed by our legal team led by Stuart Wood AM QC. When you are up against an organisation with effectively unlimited financial resources, and who can hire a large team of very eminent barristers and solicitors including one whom I have been told is Australia’s most highly paid lawyer, and a very large national law firm - no stone can be left un-turned.
Our best guess is that we still need another $100K to cover all the legal work. I feel sick in the guts and embarrassed about having to ask for help again, but there is no choice. I am thus opening a new GoFundMe page for the extra we need to get to the end of this appeal. If this ends up going on to the High Court, it will all have to start again. (Note the appeal is in the Federal Court), but I don't want to think about that now.
The costs of this sort of action are horrific. The first-round cost about $550K of which Cheryl and I paid $280K (mostly from Cheryl’s superannuation fund), and that was with major discounts from our legal team.
The extra $100K for the new appeal is in addition to the $500K we have raised in this GoFundMe already (thanks to you and a few thousand others). As mentioned before, any funds left over will be put into a fund to help other academics or scientific dissidents who have found themselves in a similar predicament to me (e.g Gerd Schroder Turk from Murdoch University) and for science quality assurance processes. Also, if we win, our intention is to contribute the original $260K donated in the first-round to that fund.
Although this case has morphed into an argument about Academic Freedom rather than whether the Great Barrier Reef is being killed by climate change and farmers, you should be in no doubt about its importance to those issues. Academics like me are being gagged all around the world, and this is one reason that contrarian views about the Reef, or climate change, are crushed by the establishment.
There are many people and organisations who could have ended this pointless legal fight. The Chancellor of JCU, who leads the University Council is the first. He should tell his Vice Chancellor that she is damaging the reputation of JCU. There is also the Queensland State Education Minister because JCU operates under a State Act of Parliament. Then there is the Commonwealth Education Minister who is paying for most of JCU’s legal costs because JCU is government funded.
But none of them have lifted a finger.
We might be abandoned by the people in power, but thanks to thousands of supporters, I reckon we will win.
Thanks for your support.
(PS: we had to start a new gofundme page due to technical reasons, but we are keeping this old page open but turned off the donations to it.)
(PS: we had to start a new gofundme page due to technical reasons, but we are keeping this old page open but turned of the donations to it.)
UPDATE Nov 2019: DONATIONS HAVE BEEN PAUSED.
We are pausing accepting any more donations for the moment. We think we probably have enough funds to cover the first round of the appeal which will be held at the end of May. Thanks again for all the donations.
As JCU is not due to submit the rest of their documents in court until the end of February, we are a little in the dark about what we are up against so there is a chance that we will reopen the appeal in early March. In short it is hard to estimate what we need at the moment. We don’t want to raise more than we need as this is hard earned cash from all of you. We have plenty of time, so we think it is best to wait and see.
The $1.75 M was the estimation of cost if we end up going to higher courts in the appeal process which could drag on for years. Let’s all hope that does not happen.
(UPDATE: we have got about $105500 in donations that have come through from non-gofundme channels. So add this number to the gofundme total. 3 October 19)
We must fight again, and will need about $1.5M AUD to take this as far as the High Court if necessary.
Last year I was fired by James Cook University after saying that Great Barrier Reef science institutions were untrustworthy due to their systemic lack of quality assurance processes. This was after a distinguished career of over 30 years working on the Great Barrier Reef and at the university.
With remarkable public support in this GoFundMe campaign, we raised legal funds to challenge the university and the Judge ruled that JCU had acted unlawfully on 28 counts and ruled that JCU should pay compensation of $1.2 million.
But now JCU has filed papers in court to appeal.
There are many important points of principle that we must fight for.
· An academic should be able to make challenging statements about controversial subjects such as the Great Barrier Reef or climate change.
· A university should never stifle debate
· The university should not silence a local scientist whose work shows that the farmers of North Queensland Australia are not destroying the Great Barrier Reef. JCU has let down its local region.
· Universities must start to reflect a greater diversity of views.
On hearing that JCU was appealing, Cheryl and I seriously considered just walking away. After all, why should I ask donors for $1.5M to fight a pointless battle that the State or Federal education ministers could settle with a phone call to JCU. $1.5M is a crazy amount that could be used for much better things.
JCU will use its infinite financial resources - effectively government money - to appeal. They have hired three or four senior barristers, one of which we are told charges over $20K per day and between them must be over $40K per day.
Last week JCU also stayed the judgement and capped my access to the compensation for legal fees.
So I must very regretfully ask again for help. We need the best legal assistance to ensure a win. My fabulous legal team led by Stuart Wood AM QC has greatly discounted their costs so far. But appeals are horribly expensive and we need to be prepared to ultimately go to the High Court.
Your donation, great or small, will not just help me fund this essential battle, it will also send a powerful message to governments about what the public expect of our universities. It might well take a couple of months to reach the target.
It is a crazy world that we have to spend this much for legal costs, but this is a fight that we have to win because of the principles it represents.
I have little doubt that we will win.
Note: because the public already donated $260K to this fund for the original court case, the target is set to $1.760M ($260K plus $1.5M). This does not include the funds that Cheryl and I have contributed so far (about $200K). The legal costs are roughly half each for the first Appeal and any subsequent challenge in the High Court. Any funds that might be left over after all court action will be donated for Science Quality Assurance purposes or to promote Academic Freedom. I'll get a group of trusted colleagues to help me with this. My understanding is that for cases under the Fair Work Act, it is unlikely that we will be awarded costs if we win the Appeal. However, if we are awarded legal costs, any in excess of what I have contributed will be added to the fund for Science QA and Academic Freedom.
All the background information (you need to scroll down some of the following pages)
Original misconduct charges by JCU https://platogbr.wordpress.com/serious-misconduct/
Second set of misconduct charges by JCU and firing of Ridd https://platogbr.wordpress.com/fired-details/
Judge Vasta’s Decision https://platogbr.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/ridd-v-james-cook-university-2019-fcca-997-.pdf
The penalty against JCU https://platogbr.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ridd-v-james-cook-university-no.2-2019-fcca-2489.pdf
Notice to Appeal https://platogbr.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/notice-of-appeal-jcu-v-ridd-stamped-1.pdf
Below is information from before April 2019
Support Peter Ridd, academic freedom, and scientific integrity
We did it. It is now all over. I am now indebted to all 2405 donors.
I frankly had grave doubts that we could reach this daunting target and I am incredibly relieved and grateful that it is finished.
We can now concentrate on the court case.
I confess that there have been times when my resolve has wavered but those close to me have steadied my nerve. I thank them to.
As mentioned before, thanks to Anthony Watts, Jo Nova, Jennifer Marohasy, Benny Peiser (GWPF), John Roskam and Matthew Lesh, James Delingpole and Breitbart, Rowan Dean, Andrew Bolt and many others who got the word out.
In the next few days I will work my way through each donation and send a separate thankyou message, but in the meantime, please accept my deepest gratitude.
Update (see original information below)
On 2 May, 2018, I received a letter from James Cook University (JCU) terminating my employment. JCU have sacked me because I dared to fight the university and speak the truth about science and the Great Barrier Reef.
Shortly after I went public in February about JCU’s treatment, the university presented me with a further set of misconduct allegations, which alleged that I acted inappropriately by talking about the case, and have now ended my employment.
I will be fighting their employment termination, alongside the original 25 charges behind JCU’s ‘final censure’ last year.
As a consequence of the sacking, and the new misconduct allegations, my legal costs have substantially increased. JCU appears to be willing to spend their near unlimited legal resources fighting me. In the name of honesty and truth in science, we must fight back. We are confident that we can win the legal case.
I feel extremely indebted to all those who have given so generously. I was blown away by the number of people who supported me, and I had hoped that more funding would not be necessary. Sadly, however circumstances have changed.
I am going to contribute another $15000 of my own money, in addition to the $24000k I have already spent. However, based on the growing complexity of the case, we will need to raise an additional $159000.
I feel rotten having to ask – but can I count on your support one more time?
I know there were many who were unable to donate the first time – including my own Mum - due to the speed we reached the original target of $95K. I am hoping you can please spread the word among potential supporters so we can expand the number of people who are helping.
For additional background, I have uploaded all the documentation so that you can judge JCU’s allegations for yourself.
In summary, JCU (1) objects to my criticism of the earlier allegations; (2) criticised my involvement with the Institute of Public Affairs; and (3) objects to me not remaining silent. The facts of the matter are simple: (1) the earlier allegations were an unreasonable infringement on my academic freedom, I was well within my rights to criticise JCU; (2) I have never been paid by the IPA, other than some initial support for my legal case and reimbursement for flights and hotels related to speaking arrangements which is normal academic practice; and (3) I am well within my rights, as stated by my employment agreement, to speak publically about disciplinary proceedings.
If you are from North Queensland, perhaps let me know in a comment alongside your donation? This case is particularly important to us as bad science is hurting every major industry in the region.
If you are from JCU, you can donate anonymously and/or use an alias (maybe James or Juanita Cook). Don’t use a JCU computer however! This is also important for our university.
Original Information From February 2018 Below
Thanks everybody, you did it and in just 49 hours. I have had a lot of emails from friends who were going to donate but were too late and were a little embarrased. Don't be - even my mum was caught out by the speed of it all. We never know if we will have to make the call ago, I hope not.
Thanks to lots of people including Anthony Watts, Jennifer Marohasy, Jo Nova, Benny Peiser (GWPF), Willie Soon for spreading the word. Also a huge thanks to the IPA for helping with the organisation.
In an era of dangerous group think in science, academic freedom and scientific integrity is increasingly under attack.
My name is Peter Ridd and I am a Professor of Physics at James Cook University, and I am facing serious repercussions for supporting scientific integrity.
This is not the first time my honesty and pursuit of truth has offended powerful people. This time, however, it has become very serious.
I have now been issued a 'Final Censure' by James Cook University for talking about quality assurance in science and told to remain silent. In response, my lawyers have filed in the federal court. This case is set against the background of the issue of academic freedom, and I need your help to support my mounting legal costs.
for more details https://platogbr.wordpress.com/serious-misconduct/
This latest affair started back in August when I appeared on Sky News with Alan Jones to discuss my chapter in the Institute of Public Affairs’ Climate Change the Facts 2017. I made the following comments:
"The basic problem is that we can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies - a lot of this is stuff is coming out, the science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated and this is a great shame because we really need to be able to trust our scientific institutions and the fact is I do not think we can any more."
"I think that most of the scientists who are pushing out this stuff they genuinely believe that there are problems with the reef, I just don't think they're very objective about the science they do, I think they're emotionally attached to their subject and you know you can't blame them, the reef is a beautiful thing."
On the basis of these comments I was accused of not acting in a 'collegial' manner.
I am a geophysicist and have undertaken extensive, and at-times controversial, research on coastal oceanography and the health of coral reefs. I have found that coral growth rates that have supposedly dramatically slowed since 1990 have, if anything, increased, that coral cover has not halved since the 1960’s, and that sediment and nutrient pollution is insignificant.
My statements on Sky News were based on my specific area of expertise, my findings, and wider concerns, held by many in the academic community, about quality assurance processes in science. I recently outlined my concerns about quality control in environmental policy science in a peer reviewed journal article.
At no point in my Sky News interview did I name the university where I work or any of my colleagues. Nor did I make any statements which I believe to be untrue.
My point was about academic integrity and scientific research, which I am entitled to make under the intellectual freedom provisions of my employment agreement that explicitly give me the right to: “Participate in public debate and express opinions about issues and ideas related to [my] respective fields of competence.”
My employer, James Cook University, recently issued a 'Final Censure' and instructed me to be silent about the censure and to not make further comments like the ones I made on Sky News in future.
These conditions, particularly their instruction to remain silent, is unacceptable. It flies in the face of my instinct for truth and honesty, and my academic freedom.
I am taking the matter to the Federal Court to protect my ability to speak out about important issues.
My lawyers are confident. However even if we win and are awarded partial costs I will still face substantial financial burden for the case. I have put aside $24,000 of my own money for the case, however this will not be enough. I do not expect a cent back. The money I am asking for is to fund the rest of action.
We must use this case to support the principle that academics are free to speak their mind within their field of expertise without fear or favour.
The way I have been treated, if they get away with it, will have a serious chilling effect on future research and public discussion.
I am putting myself on the line - this action will be costly in terms of time and reputation - but I have spent my whole life fighting for scientific truth and I do not intend to stop now.
I would be very grateful for your support. Could you make a donation, within your capacity to give, in order to support the principle of academic freedom?
Please note that all surplus funds beyond what is necessary to fund the legal case, court awarded costs, will be donated to the Bob Carter Memorial Fund, which, in the memory of Professor Bob Carter (1942-2016), supports conferences and lectures on rationality and integrity in science. The Fund is overseen by the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) of which I am a Director.
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