Peter Ridd Legal Action Fund

29 July  2020

We have had a setback, but my lawyers have carefully gone over the judgement, and believe there are numerous strong grounds for appeal to the High Court of Australia.  We are re-opening the fundraising campaign and will carry on with the legal action. 

BTW, although gofundme has an option for a tip (to gofundme, not me) you do not have to do this.

In the final analysis, I was fired for saying that, because of systemic problems with quality assurance, work from the JCU coral reef centre, which also publishes extensively on climate change, was untrustworthy. I believe what I said was true and have given plenty of published evidence to support the statement. After I was fired, it was proven beyond doubt that I was correct when a group of seven international scientists who audited eight of the major studies from the JCU coral reef centre found them ALL to be 100% wrong. You can’t get much more scientifically untrustworthy than that. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/ex-judge-investigate-controversial-marine-research 

I don’t take the decision to appeal lightly. The financial and emotional costs are high and legal action is fraught with uncertainties. In addition to the $300K Cheryl and I have spent on this case, I have received from  about four thousand people, over $800K.  It is matter that rests heavily on my conscience. 

We have an excellent chance, but we might lose. There are, however, too many important principles at stake to walk away at this stage.

This case has already demonstrated a major problem with Academic Freedom of Speech at a university. This ultimately affects what academics are prepared to say on controversial topics such as climate change, or the fate of the Great Barrier Reef.  The Commonwealth government has already signalled its intention to consider adapting the French Review Model Code to prevent a similar case. This may be the most important long-term implication of the case. Ironically, even if we lose in the High Court, it will demonstrate beyond doubt that the work contracts at universities have the effect of crushing free speech.  I have little doubt the Education Minister will have something to say about that once the legal action is over.

So even if we lose the High Court challenge, we still win the ultimate political battle.

Many thanks again for your support

Peter

 For those interested in the detailed 80 page judgement, this is the link.

https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/full/2020/2020fcafc0123

Why will this appeal cost so much? Legal action is horrendously expensive especially when going to the highest court in Australia. There is a large amount of legal documentation to be reviewed in order to put forward the strongest arguments backed with case law evidence. Also the Federal Court judgement must be forensically examined.

Note 1: We are just continuing the last gofundme campaign which raised $100K rather than start a brand new campaign. So the counter starts at $100K. The history of  all the appeals is below.

Note 2:  for overseas people, the High Court is Australia’s highest court. 

Note 3: My lawyers, led by Stuart Wood QC AM, are of the highest calibre and greatly respected in the legal fraternity.

Note 4: If we end up with excess funds, they will be donated to help the cause of academic freedom especially for those who have expressed controversial ideas and then been penalised.

AA








FROM THE OLD APPEAL BELOW
JCU Appeals.




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.

https://platogbr.wordpress.com/fired-details/


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/

Background

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.”

 update 2018

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.

 https://platogbr.wordpress.com/serious-misconduct/

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Organizer

Peter Ridd 
Organizer
Mundingburra, Queensland, AU
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