Peter Ridd Legal Action Fund

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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


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.”

Latest update

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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Dear All,
There has been a flurry of media activity on the case but the main news is that it looks as though the Vice Chancellor (VC) is digging in. She and the Provost Prof Chris Cocklin released an extraordinary statement saying the Judge was wrong on all 17 findings against JCU (see link below). In my opinion, she had not read Judge Vasta’s judgement and clearly does not comprehend what has just happened.

But this means that unless the JCU council (the governing body) deals with the VC, an appeal is likely. In my media statements I have repeatedly stated that the JCU council will be complicit in this mess if they do not deal with the VC and Provost. Due to the huge media response in Australia, the council will have heard this loud and clear.

JCU has near infinite resources from the taxpayer and the VC will not pay a cent when she ultimately loses. It matters not to JCU if they appeal on weak grounds, and the VC may well have retired from the university in the time it could take, perhaps 5 years, if it goes all the way to the high court.

An appeal will cost the best part of a million dollars – much more if it goes to the high court. But I reckon that if we are forced, we can raise the funds. I am very confident that we can win any appeal, although we would want to look closely at whatever mischief they come up with.

The fact is that we have the upper hand – we won the first round 17-nil. The university is bleeding reputation due to its own mistakes, and there is growing anger especially in North Queensland. If they think they can intimidate us with an appeal, they should think again.

Kind regards

Peter


https://www.jcu.edu.au/news/releases/2019/april/response-to-federal-circuit-court-judgement
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Dear All,

if you are interested in exactly what the judge found, I have put it on the link below

https://wordpress.com/page/platogbr.wordpress.com/281

I have not yet read it all properly but clauses 212 onward are utterly scathing of JCU

Peter
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Dear All,

Excellent news.

My lawyers have told me that the judge handed down his decision and we seem to have won on all counts.

It all happened very quickly and we had no warning , and because I live almost a thousand miles from the court, I was not able to be there. I have still not seen the written judgement and will update you all when I have that information.

Needless to say, I have to thank all 2500 of you, and all the bloggers, and the IPA and my legal team who donated much of their time free for this success. But mostly I want to thank my dearest Cheryl, who quite by chance has been my bestest friend for exactly 40 years today. It just shows what a team effort can achieve.

The next chapter of this saga must now be written by the JCU Council which is the governing body of JCU. What will they do about the VC and SDVC who were responsible for bringing the university into disrepute, not just in North Queensland, but also around the world. JCU crushed dissent, crushed academic freedom and tried to crush my spirit with their appalling behaviour. They only failed because I had your support. But if the JCU council does not act, they will be complicit in this disgraceful episode.

Attention must now focus on the JCU council.

I will update you shortly when I have more information, but for now I certainly have a spring in my step.

kind regards

Peter
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