@JCU tries patience of judge at Peter Ridd firing penalty hearing – doesn’t go well

This update came today from Dr. Peter Ridd:

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”

Charlie Peel,writing in The Australian says:

James Cook University risks contempt rap for response to verdict

Contempt? Well, that fits. They haven’t a clue how contemptuous they appear.

In other news, the IPA did some digging, here are some excerpts from the press release, bold mine:


Gideon Rozner: The details of a freedom of information request lodged by the Institute of Public Affairs with James Cook University and released today reveal the University has already spent at least $630,000 on legal fees in the Dr Peter Ridd case.

“The very fact that an Australian university is willing to force the weight of an entire administration backed by taxpayer funds to stifle an academic’s freedom of speech sends a massive chilling effect to any academic engaging in public debate in Australia,” said IPA Director of Policy, Gideon Rozner.

“James Cook University’s shameful actions prove without doubt there is a crisis of free speech at Australian Universities.

“It is staggering to think that after the Federal Circuit Court ruled on every point in Dr Ridd’s favour, JCU is contemplating an appeal.

“Australian universities receive billions of dollars in taxpayer funding for the purpose of free intellectual inquiry. Now JCU wants to go to a higher court to prove it can shut down the freedom of speech on academic issue by one of its professors. It is outrageous. Taxpayers fund JCU to do education and research, not engage in vexatious litigation against its own staff.

See The IPA media release.

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92 thoughts on “@JCU tries patience of judge at Peter Ridd firing penalty hearing – doesn’t go well

  1. JCU should have to post a bond equal to the entire legal costs that Dr. Peter Ridd will have to pay for both court cases, as well as what the settlement should potentially be if the appeal is upheld. (perhaps $10-$15 Mil)
    This is clearly an abuse of the judicial process, given how the Court has already ruled. JCU should be hung out to dry after this is over given how much disgrace they have brought down upon the university.

    • More importantly, the top management must be sacked and sued for wasting public funds. For the moment it is simply the JCU and hence the taxpayer who is on the hook. They have no skin in the game.

      They must be held personally responsible for this mess. Send a “chilling signal” to other toxic administrators that the tax payer will not fund their personal vendetta against open scientific investigation.

    • Ideally an appeal should cost nothing except for the time of the judge(s) that look at it, all the evidence and testimony should be available, but of course the Legal Gravy Train is much older and well oiled even than the climate one.

      • Climanrecon, Yes. The clear winners in all of this so far … the legal representation on both sides that are pocketing obscene amounts of money in fees.

  2. Perhaps when they realise they won’t be asked to reinstate you they might reconsider the appeal, cut their losses, and accept they must pay you a substantial amount for unfair dismissal, which would probably be no more than the next round they are also bound to lose.

    But then, these people are gambling with other people’s money. However, there must be a ‘consensus’ amongst their legal team that the whole thing is a lost cause and that to continue would violate their duty of care to their client.

    • Refusing to continue the appeal would be client abandonment, itself an ethical violation (at least under US and Japanese law, I assume the same in Australia).

      However, failure to give an honest assessment of the outcome of an appeal would indeed violate their duty. The catch is that their attorneys may believe that they can out-fund Dr Ridd, and if they just keep running up the expenses they’ll eventually win a default when he can’t afford to respond. The phrase in US law is “papering them to death,” where everything done is borderline frivolous, but if you miss one of them the case gets dismissed. It’s a common tactic of large firms against individuals where the collateral consequences of a loss are important, regardless of the immediate outcome of the specific case.

      It looks like this is what JCU is doing – they want to be able to keep their totalitarian rules, and if this survives it will be used as precedent the next time – and that they knew it was improper. If I were their attorney, I’d suggest offering Dr Ridd a 7 figure settlement and the dismissal of the case for just that reason. If I were evil, that is.

      • Robert, you probably do not know that Queensland has a Public Sector Ethics Act which applies to all Queensland Universities (as mentioned in Regulations to the Act) and also applies to contractors to the Public Sector. JCU and their Lawyers have breached sections of that Act in terms of politeness, integrity, being political (the Act has the term “apolitical” for provision of services) and other requirements in the ACT. The Lawyers for JCU should be struck off the register and the JCU management should loose their jobs as well as being fined. The Federal Government should withhold funds until the State Government appoints an administrator as it has done with some Local Government Councils.

      • That is not true in the US. The decision to appeal is the client’s and of course, the client is obligated to pay for the cost.

    • “….their legal team that the whole thing is a lost cause and that to continue would violate their duty of care to their client….” You forgot the /sarc tag.

  3. Indeed, they are not facing reality.
    They are anti-intellectual, the opposite of a real University, etc. all that.

    But what about the waste of half a million taxpayer funds?

    Contempt of court means someone could go to jail. And that, I think, is what it will take to make them face reality.

    I don’t think they have the moral right to waste so much taxpayer money nor conduct such abuse of power.

    Therefore, there SHOULD be an effort to jail one or more of them.

    • At the very least, the judge should be able to tell the university, “Fire these admins for bad faith, or we will revoke your accreditation.”

  4. Peter,
    Thank you for the news.
    This is an important issue, as you realise.
    Please persevere as you are willing and able. Geoff S

  5. I would suggest that the same attitude exists in many universities in North America with respect to students.
    If the U Geography or Environmental Science area is controlled by CAGW types what freedom does a student have?

    • I would suggest the Universities worldwide are basically broken in the central business of diversity of ideas. Definitely Cook U shouldnt be allowed to get away with this totalitarian act.

      The private sector is getting there fast, too. You can be fired by your employer for for a sardonic tweet on your own time joking about the other kind of diversity BS. You can’t be easily fired for doing nothing at work, though (recent Mark Stein observation).

      Also, why would other races and genders need so much coddling and have special gentle rules made relating to them by white lefty “caring” patrons who invented all this awful stuff. It harkens me back to the 60s in West Africa when matronly English missionaries in white ankle socks needed to save these lost lambs. It was rightly recognized as colonial behavior. I think this is the worst kind of racism there is. Wattsupwiththat? What was wrong with the golden rule re respect for others.

      • How is it possible the entire world has had our educational systems taken over by people with such perverse disregard for what is true and right?
        How could illiberal leftists manage to do this in the span of our single lifeyime?
        It seems impossible.

        • It is not an active take over. It is a difference of mindset. One mindset wants to fix the world, the other qwants to be left alone. Which one is going to be running your local beaucracy?

    • “I would suggest that the same attitude exists in many universities in North America with respect to students.”

      Not necessarily, depending on circumstances. Make a claim that the Department is being mean to you because of [insert something about race, gender etc], and the central University Admin will jump to attention. A student will then be guaranteed graduation irrespective of exam results. Universities do, after all, create their own currency of academic qualifications. It costs them little to print one more undeserved degree, except for the long term affect of educational inflation.

      I’ve seen similar cases with complaints by faculty. These are more “problematic”, to use a word so beloved by SJWs, but can be dealt with by offering promotions that come with an improved job title but no extra salary.

  6. Perhaps the time has come to force JCU to shutter it’s doors and cease to be a viable entity

    • wouldnt be a minute too soon
      people who have had student placements from there arent impressed I am told

  7. A reinstatement under the current administration would be a suicide. Would it be possible to de-instate the administration?

  8. I’ve always liked the idea of something like “we’re seeking either $10 million in damages, or $5 million in damages and the immediate and irrevocable firing of everyone involved.”

  9. Time for Morrison Government to question how taxpayers’ money is being spent.
    Where are you ScoMo?

    • Yes. I think the attitude should be, if you have this much funds to squander on a lawsuit you lost so badly, then we’ll save that money for more useful things. Your budget for next year, and every year thereafter, eill be reduced by how much you have spent on this.

      • jtom, I agree except for one little change.

        “Your budget salary for next year, and every year thereafter, [w]ill be reduced by how much you have spent on this.”

        That would get their attention.

  10. They live in an alternate universe – one not burdened by ethnics, morality, or truth. They have a money purse provided to them by a government who is taking people’s money and allowing it to be spent this way, so there is no financial consequence for them. At the worst, students will be affected by raising tuition or cutting programs and classes to pay for this – the elite in administration won’t be affected.

    I wish this were just a problem in your great nation, but it’s a wide spread problem in our U.S. elite universities and just keeps on getting worse. In business if you see a resume with something like a degree from Princeton on it, you laugh, toss it, and go to the next resume. Who wants to hire a silly child who was never taught anything about reality?

    There is no freedom of speech within our universities – the liberal fascist groups just shut everyone down they don’t agree with.

  11. All I can say is that JCU is behaving as though it lives in it’s own little world completely out of touch with our reality.

    • Well, it does.
      Global Warming is a dangerous cult: profess or perish.
      The Borg are more open minded.

  12. Thankfully, the courts have not gone full-blown postmodern in their reasoning. At least not yet…

  13. Now JCU wants to go to a higher court to prove it can shut down the freedom of speech on academic issue by one of its professors.

    Outrageous? Yes. But after watching the circus at UEA, Penn State, U of Arizona and etc. Hardly surprising.

    • The expression in the UK used to be: If you are in a hole stop digging. If you keep digging you will end up in Australia!

  14. It’s just stunning to me that this kind of tyranny against academic freedom is being practiced not only at JCU but in other major universities around the world. This sounds more like the way drug cartels operate, not institutions of higher learning.

    Dr. Ridd, you will have my support in August or whenever needed.

  15. The “University” is not a “person” so administrators feel court orders can be ignored, assuming they will be fined and the fines paid by the government. When the judge orders the chancellor to be taken to jail, things will happen much more quickly.

  16. So Dr. Ridd’s new career is pursuing damages. It’s a shame to waste his expertise on this endeavor but I fully support him and hope he has quick and utmost success.

    • He is not “chasing damages” , that is the only recourse open to him. He is engaging in a much wider battle and this will probably be a far larger contribution to science than any single person has made in a long time.

      More power to him.

  17. This is wonderful news. The longer this goes on, and the longer it stays in the news, the greater the political impact.

    The greens and labor think they’ll just bounce back the next time around, but they could be headed for a generation out of power.

  18. Well, there are many Doom-Sayers… I, for one, look forward to the new Renaissance, the dogmas of today shattered and the reason to prevail.

  19. I think what we’re seeing here is more than just denial of reality by JCU, it’s punishment by process.

  20. It is *not* a “crisis of free speech”, it is an opportunity. Now is the time for every single professor who values their future scientific freedom to stand up and speak truth… the university can’t afford to fire all of them and go through the same expensive process as they have with Peter Ridd. If they try, the university administrators will likely be summarily removed from their positions for wasting taxpayer dollars, whereupon you ‘pierce the veil’, prove they did so out of *personal* ideological conviction while serving in a *publicly*-funded position (in which they are required to set aside personal convictions), and are therefore liable for paying back all that money to the taxpayers from their own pocket.

  21. 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.

    I’m very disturbed by this. Dr. Ridd going back would threaten his colleagues? Sounds to me more like the university threatening his colleagues in order to prevent him from returning. In other words, they can’t shoot him so they’re threatening to shoot all his colleagues instead. From their point of view, it makes sense. If Dr. Ridd is reinstated, it sends a message to other like minded professors that they would be safe to speak up. Can’t have another one!

    I’m disappointed that you’re not seeking reinstatement Dr. Ridd. But I know the personal toll it takes to fight a freedom of speech battle, so I don’t blame you for deciding to take that step. When the time comes to fight that appeal, my wallet will be open.

    • I interpreted that as meaning the colleagues in the Physics Dept would be threatened by those who don’t want Dr. Ridd on the staff at all.
      Even if the courts rule that Dr. Ridd himself can’t be punished, anyone who cooperates with him can still be punished.

      • Work places in Australia are very politically correct. Govn’t paid work places are infantile and even more politically correct. If Dr. Ridd had offended a female colleague he would probably be in jail now.

        It’s even worse in New Zealand. I got a severe warning from my direct manager once for working along side a female colleague for saying “There has to be a better way.” relating to how software deliveries were managed.

        • I don’t know how anybody can get productive work done in an environment like that. Glad things are not that bad here in the US, at least not yet.

      • Yes unfortunately the halo effect laws don’t cover others they only cover Peter himself. It is probably a change that needs to be made to the laws.

  22. Keep on fighting and keep us informed, sure you will get the funding needed.

  23. I am still not convinced the will be given leave to appeal, it will be interesting to see what argument they try.

    • In the US you have an automatic right to appeal to the lowest appellate court. After that, an appeal has to be granted by the higher appellate court, which is usually a state Supreme Court or the US Supreme Court.

  24. I should let you all know that we are no longer seeking reinstatement …

    While I understand the decision not to return to JCU completely, I think this is the win the university was looking for. They got what they wanted, whether they appeal or not. It’s a sad commentary on the state of science that academia can “get its way” using these kinds of tactics.

  25. Just met Peter at Brisbane Airport. Great to meet him in person and wish him good luck.

  26. In the face of the 28 illegal actions for which JCU have been found guilty, it seems unlikely an appeal would ultimately be successful. It appears more likely to be just a use of the oft practiced legal tactic of using escalating legal costs and years of delays to force a less wealthy opponent to give up and agree to a much-reduced settlement.

    However, as of 1 July 2019 new legislation that provides enhanced protection for whistle-blowers has come into effect. It includes easier access to compensation and remedies if they suffer detriment following their disclosure.

    It would now appear that the longer JCU drags out settlement with Dr. Ridd the greater the risk of escalating the detriment. Clearly it should be the duty of the JCU Council to intervene and put a stop to this farce.

    The very nature of the 28 illegal actions of JCU indicates that these things did not just happen as a result of some impersonal corporate procedure. Personal decision making and responsibility must have been repeatedly involved. In view of the matters of important public interest with respect to both the Great Barrier Reef as well as academic research more generally, the personal detriment of Professor Ridd and his family and the interest of justice itself, a proper investigation of accountability is fully warranted.

    The era of a free pass for white-collar crime and malfeasance behind a cloak of corporate anonymity is ending and universities are overdue a closer look.

      • The court decision found that all the 17 findings, 8 directions, 2 censures, and final employment termination made by JCU against Professor Ridd were illegal.

        • Thank you for that. It’s quite a shame that Australians can’t get a true account of this event *IN* Australia and in Australian media. We have to go elsewhere for the truth.

          To me, this reeks of a “superiority complex” that the JCU believed they were above the law, or were just ignorant of the law. I am glad to see some correction happening. I wonder if the Federal/State Govn’t were ALP would the result be different?

  27. ‘It would now appear that the longer JCU drags out settlement with Dr. Ridd the greater the risk of escalating the detriment.’

    Yes,of course.
    As a long term Australian Taxpayer,unwilling to pay more for this farce, IMHO its time that JCU had some skin in the game.
    The next Commonwealth Grants round must be reduced by any costs involved in this litigation.
    This site needs to gear up for another funding appeal.
    For those in NSW with reasonable memories……….
    ‘I feel another racing greyhound moment coming on’.

  28. This sort of thing has been going on in Australian universities for some time. No surprise to me.

  29. Sadly wholey predictable, it’s ‘face’ the fear losing most, and having Peter back on campus would have been a major loss of that. While they may feel there is more to be lost in ‘cilmate doom’ funding than any payments to Peter.

  30. Peter, just tell us when and where to send the money. These SNIP are not going to win. Too much is at stake.

  31. This may turn into a watershed case.
    This case illustrates the danger of open ended unlimited state funded support, available to bureaucracy, i.e. the JCU, versus the common man, represented by Peter Ridd.
    The bureaucrats can continue their contemptuous actions against both the man and the courts, safe in the knowledge, they as bureaucrats will never have to answer personally, for their state funded activities. It is no matter to the JCU individuals extending this case duration, how lacking in balance or correctness they might be.
    This privilege, enjoyed by state funded persons to operate, safe in the knowledge they will never be held responsible, or suffer any personal risk for their misdemeanours, must change.
    It is not beholden on the the tax payers, nor is it their responsibility, to underwrite the folly and cost of public sector workers (JCU administrators) misdeeds/actions, no matter what they do.
    I am happy to support Peter’s crowd funding request, should that day dawn.

    • I also will be willing to put my hand in my pocket.But we must NOT let this just slide away.These”BureaucRATS”must be held to account for their actions.They MUST be shown that there are consequences for what they do.

  32. When you’re digging a hole like the JCU are doing all you can see is the hole and nothing else and you will go to silly lengths to get out of it.
    They thought they were digging a grave for Peter but it rather looks the other way around and they could be the ones underground by the end of this a bit like the “bowler hat” chap in this
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yShvgXZQBTs

    Will be ready and waiting for the reopening of the gofundme to help put them in their place.
    James Bull

  33. it would be instructive to know what the university said that was considered close to contempt.

    unfortunately, it’s paywallled…

  34. I have a feeling that it will become an important reference case down the track. Uni admins around the world will be carefully following it. I did not fund it last time as I like to clearly understand what is being argued.

    I will put something in for the appeal as the outcome alone is worth it. Besides, I don’t like bullies.

    Its all so silly when there could well have been a resolution early in the stage through talks around a table. Academics are seldom wise.

    M

  35. It is all very well announcing how much JCU have spent on the case buy this it is not their money, it is the taxpayer’s. The whole image of the University stinks since Prof.Robert Carter’s departure. The Government should act on this abuse of taxpayer’s money.

  36. When you get to the bottom line the problem is how government funding is administered and applied. Obviously they have tax payer money to burn.

  37. if jcu has a law dept I wonder how theyre seeing this
    fine example isnt it?
    your own incompetent management refutes legal results
    bet their homework if they have law students? gets interesting this yr or next

  38. Re. Michael Hart of July 20, re. issuing of “”Qualifications” .

    In the final days of the Australian Administration of Papua New Guinea, 1973, it was policy to never fail a PNG perron at school. All were given a pass but they were marked as A to F.

    The poor devils would turn up at the Police Station to join the Police Force, and we had to explain to them that a pass of less then say B was worthless. It was not a job I enjoyed doing.

    MJE VK5ELL

  39. Peter Ridd is fighting a battle for all of us in western civilisation . He may need all the support we can give if JCU continues with its legal options . They will want to drive him into the dust ,never to be seen or heard of again.
    Even now a search for Peter Ridd on the ABC news website only mentions he won unfair dismissal but means nothing in terms of his actual studies of the GBR . If Prof. Ridd wins this case it will not be a win for climate realists but if he loses it will certainly be a win for climate scam artists and their intelligent sheep .

  40. https://ipa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/190719-Media-release-IPA-James-Cook-University-Must-Give-Up-Its-Appeal-In-The-Ridd-Free-Speech-Case.pdf

    In this link (IPA Media Release) there is a table (excluding GST) showing that 495K of the 630K total was spent on Clayton Utz Professional fees. Splashing a listing around explaining these fees might shed light on the system. I was in Australia quite a few years ago and was told the same thing was going on there as was in the US. It was a shame because the research coming out of there that I knew about seemed better than the US. The situation developed because the honest, quiet types tolerated it too long. Corrupt administrators know that, but they don’t have good judgement anyway.

  41. JCU administrative elitists live in their own distorted alternate universe, from how I see this turning out.

    Close down JCU. Dismiss the alter-verse elitist administrators. Start an employment search for new administrators. Then re-open the place in THIS universe, with the new administrators at the helm. Re-hire Peter Ridd, and live happily ever after. [Yeah, like that would ever happen — what universe am I living in?]

  42. Geologist Bob Carter was a distinguished professor merciless subjected to the punishment of Big Climate enforcers. A third of a century at James Cook University ended with them taking away his office, his unpaid adjunct professorship, and eventually his email address and even his library card. Sadly, Peter Ridd is merely the next “cab off the rank” … and these cowardly bullies must be stopped. We can start by naming names, ad nauseum.

  43. Unfortunately, many of Justice Salvatore Vasta’s judgements have been overturned on appeal and we should be wary that this one may end the same way.

    • They appear to be in the contentious area of family law.
      This judgement is in a different area, the interpretation of contract and the obligation of an employer.
      JCU could well be thinking they have a chance in appeal, but for reasons including upholding the good name of the University and its body of work.They also bear no financial costs, so there is no disincentive there to appeal.
      If they lose again then certain persons who made the relevant decisions may get a gold watch, generous super and payout then quietly slip away, for family reasons.
      In which case the good name of the University will no longer be their problem, but they can argue that they did what was possible and it had to be done.
      So decisions for the Ridd team have to be made as the JCU responds, it calls the shots.
      Shooting the messenger, the Judge, may not cut it though.
      The decision was carefully argued and walled against successful appeal, in my non legal opinion.
      Similar minds, on appeal, may well concur.

  44. Amazing how much money JCU is spending fighting this. Always easy for public servants to spend other people’s money for political purposes. I and another resident in my fair town had to sue our city to secure reimbursement of parking mitigation fees collected by the city to construct parking at the beach. The law was reasonably clear that the money needed to be spent within five years for the purpose intended. The city held the money for twenty-five years and dipped into the till for unauthorized uses. We prevailed in court and they appealed. We won at the appellate level. It was actually funny watching the City Attorney trying to defend the city’s action before the judges. Of course they appealed to the State Supreme Court which refused to hear the case. So the city wound up reimbursing about $11 million less contingent legal costs to over 6,000 homeowners.

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