Peter Ridd Legal Action Fund

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Raised by 2,405 people in 18 months
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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.

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


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.
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The “penalties” hearing went well, and Barrister Ben Kidston did a brilliant job in the pilot’s seat.
I should let you all know that we are no longer seeking reinstatement because JCU’s response since the decision indicates that if I went back, I would have a very troubled existence that would also threaten all my colleagues in the Physics Department.

But the big news is that JCU stated firmly that they will appeal. This is a frightening prospect that will be horribly expensive both financially and emotionally, but at least we know for sure. I have little doubt that we will win. JCU has just not faced reality.

JCU have three weeks after the Judge hands down his “penalty” decision to file the appeal documents. We will hold off reopening the funding appeal until then. I expect it will be late August. You have already done your bit and I have no doubt that many others will step up to the plate and join us. This matter is now very well known.

On a more amusing note, the Vice Chancellor and the Provost (Chris Cocklin) might be in big trouble for an email and public statement they made within hours of the decision being made public in April. To quote The Australian newspaper

“Justice Vasta said the statement attributed to Chris Cocklin was “almost contemptuous” and could be referred to the Federal Circuit Court ¬Marshal”

Kind regards

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Dear All,

Just letting you know that there will be a final court hearing on Thursday and Friday this weed for Judge Vasta to decide the penalty against James Cook University for all their unlawful activity including firing me. Thanks again for your support, we would not be in this position without you all.

I have mentioned before that we think it highly likely that JCU will appeal and they have three weeks after the judge decides on the penalty against JCU to do this.

In the meantime, there is a growing campaign to improve the Quality Assurance of Great Barrier Reef Science and I note that the Liberal National Party in Queensland has just passed a resolution calling for an Office of Science Quality Assurance. This could be a major step forward in the quest to make our science institutions trustworthy again.

So good is coming out of all of this.

I’ll let you know how things develop at the end of the week.

Kind regards

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Dear All,
We have now got the dates (18th and 19th July) for the court hearing that will decide the remedies. i.e. reappointment to JCU in some form, and penalties.

In a public statement to the newspapers, JCU has said that it has not ruled out an appeal. I confess to initially feeling a bit upset at the prospect of the case dragging on, but I am warming to the idea – a lot.

They have still not grasped the fact that they will lose irrespective of the court outcome. They will again have to argue that it was reasonable for them to shut down debate about one of the most important issues facing our region – the quality of science, including climate science, claiming damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Even if they can find a legal loop-hole that allows this, why would a reputable university argue for it?

They will also have to argue again that some of their disgusting behaviour, such as not allowing me to talk to my wife, the “no-satire” directive, and many others was OK.

They will get beaten up in the local, national and world media yet again. They have already had five episodes of very bad publicity, so why not have a few more so they can totally wreck the reputation of the university?

They remind me of the Monty Python scene when the Black Knight (i.e. JCU) gets his arms and legs chopped off, but keeps coming back for more in the delusion that he can somehow still win . see


The University Council, which met last week, has also failed to take any action to bring the Vice Chancellor and Provost to heel. They are now complicit in this disgraceful saga and will ultimately be held publicly to account.

It all demonstrates that we have major systemic problems, not only with our unreliable and untrustworthy science institutions, but with the governance of our universities.

Kind regards

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Dear All,
Despite considerable bad publicity, especially in the North Queensland media, Jame Cook University (JCU) has still not ruled out an appeal. The next legal step will be the “remedies” hearing in the coming months. I will be pushing hard to get back to JCU as an academic but given the Vice Chancellor’s remarks that she does not accept that JCU did anything wrong, one has to be concerned how she might react with me “back in harness” - with her holding the reins. The legal people are working on ways to mitigate this danger. It appears that they can appeal up to 3 weeks after the remedies hearing so we still have many months to wait.

In the meantime I continue to work on the book on the Great Barrier Reef and why it is not particularly threatened, and two initiatives to improve science quality. So the delay will be well spent.

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