Peter Ridd in court.

We are all Peter Ridd! Read all about it.

Jennifer Marohasy was there too, see Jo Nova.

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35 Responses to Peter Ridd in court.

  1. amortiser

    I was there today.

    Remarkable stuff. Murdoch for JCU held the floor most of the day. Tried to establish breaches of the code of conduct against Dr Ridd.

    Ridd was very good under cross examination and very effectively held his position on his intellectual freedom rights.

    When Murdoch went after him on his statements on the Jones show on Sky, Judge Vasta intervened.
    He said that in the face of the criticisms that Dr Ridd made of the lack of quality assurance, lack of checking and reproducibility of the scientific research at JCU, and the Australian Institite of Marine Science that JCU didn’t address his criticisms but pursued code of conduct actions against him.

    He said that he thought it would be appropriate for JCU to make submissions addressing the issues highlighted by Dr Ridd but he was astonished that they proffered nothing in answer to Dr Ridd.

    The Judge said that he made these comments in fairness to JCU so that they didn’t first see this line of thinking in the reasons for his judgement emphasising that his view was not yet settled. It was a telling admonishment of the JCU case.

    When Murdoch stated that the action against Dr Ridd was not because of his differing views on the science, Steward Wood SC for Ridd laughed out loud as did the gallery. Judge Vasta admonished him for doing so but is suspect it was very much tongue in cheek.

    It was a very good day for Dr Ridd.

    Tomorrow will see the completion of the JCU defence and then the final response from Wood SC.

  2. Tom

    Many thanks, Amortiser and Rafe. Apart from Pell, this is the most important court case in Australia this year.

  3. NB

    Yes, thank you for this summary amortise. You are helping fill the information gap in an important way.

  4. amortiser

    Throughout Murdoch’s presentation, the Judge sought clarification and concluded his enquiry with “I understand your submission”.

    In the end I had the impression that this was shorthand for “what a load of crap”.

  5. Siltstone

    yes, thanks Amortiser and Rafe! Re “lack of quality assurance, lack of checking and reproducibility of the scientific research at JCU”, no wonder JCU were silent! They would not have clue what those things mean.

  6. NB

    ‘the right to academic freedom afforded by his own client [JCU] to their staff should be construed narrowly.’
    Case closed. The rest is detail. Trust nothing that comes from a university.
    I don’t think our universities can be repaired, so keep an eye on new sites for research and education.

  7. amortiser

    Siltstone:
    You would have thought it would have been front and centre in their defence if they had protocol in place. Dr Ridd would have been left without a leg to stand on.

    This is one of the big scientific scandals of recent years. Instead of showing that there was nothing to criticise or doing something to fix the problem they decided to firstly shut him up and when that failed they fired him.

    On these facts JCU has no integrity or reputation to protect.

  8. duncanm

    Wow..

    Judge Vasta asked JCU’s lawyers what steps the university had actually taken in response to Peter’s comments that the quality of the science was not being adequately assessed and verified. The judge said this:

    When nothing is done on [Peter’s] quality assurance complaints, but no stone is unturned in the disciplinary process, are the substance of Dr Ridd’s statements [about the behaviour of JCU] so untruthful?

  9. Lazlo

    amortiser

    Did the NTEU turn up in court, or are they just signifying?

  10. Lazlo

    National Tertiary Education Union. They said they were supporting Ridd.

  11. Leo G

    NTEU?

    National Tertiary Education Union

  12. Siltstone

    NTEU = National Tertiary Education Union
    Amortiser, should Ridd win, what possible grounds for appeal might JCU make out?

  13. Beertruk

    Nice.
    Disclaimer: I kicked in some spondoolies on Dr Ridd’s GoFundMe turnout for this.

  14. Lazlo

    This is a tricky one. From personal experience I know that the Misconduct Provisions in most University EnterpriseAgreements are seriously f***ed up, open to all sorts of interpretations. JCU have clearly chosen to take a hard line interpretation.

    I completely support Peter Ridd. I believe he is being persecuted for querying the “consensus” on AGW. I have personally donated $500 to his go fund me campaign.

    But when/if Sinc or Judith are accused of being untrustworthy, publishing stuff that is not quality assured, or perhaps insulting to a colleague. Should action be taken?

    Just asking..

  15. amortiser

    Might appeal on grounds of bias by the judge. Maybe on the grounds that he gave insufficient weight to the comments he made about colleagues. Would be clutching at straws unless they conclude that a University is a “safe space” rather than a place of robust discussion.

    It will be interesting to hear the response from Ridd’s counsel. He is making the case that the Code of Conduct is subservient to the EBA so he will be attacking the charges on that basis. One view expressed after the hearing today was that Wood SC is ready for a complete demolition job.

  16. amortiser

    I didn’t notice a union presence. I will keep an eye out tomorrow.

  17. Lazlo

    The Code of Conduct is certainly subservient to the EBA. It can only express intention.

  18. Lazlo

    Yes, the NTEU were only signifying academic freedom -notpepared to show in court.
    Virtue signaling ratbags.

  19. Siltstone

    It’s all out in the open, as it should be.
    Not like a recent case in Victoria.

  20. Lazlo

    Oh, and the Code of Conduct is not a legally sanctioned instrument, just an internal policy. Has no weight.

  21. amortiser

    Lazlo
    #2972113, posted on March 27, 2019 at 11:43 pm
    Oh, and the Code of Conduct is not a legally sanctioned instrument, just an internal policy. Has no weight.

    It does have weight in that it is referred to in the clauses of the EBA. Where there is a conflict between the two documents, the EBA takes precedent.

    The odd thing I noticed was that JCU barely made reference to the EBA. It was as if it had been consigned to the bottom drawer. Their case was built around breaches of the code of conduct and how the code limited the scope of the intellectual freedom provisions of the EBA. It was quite bizarre.

  22. J.H.

    Good stuff. I was worried that politics would override justice. Looks like the judge wants JCU to address Dr Ridd’s criticisms before looking at code of conduct issues.

    Ridd should be able to win from there.

  23. None

    JCU I think was being really mean and tricky by using code of conduct to fire Ridd and that’s why I very much doubted that this will be an academic Freedom issue but it will be fought on the code of conduct technicalities. Still, because it is a code of conduct issue it has forced JCU to make absolutely ludicrous statements such as claiming period is not an expert yada yada and therefore they could justify throwing the code of conduct at him. And that was a very telling statement by the judge:

    When nothing is done on [Peter’s] quality assurance complaints, but no stone is unturned in the disciplinary process, are the substance of Dr Ridd’s statements [about the behaviour of JCU] so untruthful?

    I’m glad to have contributed to Ridd’s defense fund.

  24. 2dogs

    The Judge said that he made these comments in fairness to JCU

    Far too much of JCU’s case consists of assertions that they have not backed up with evidence. JCU has not presented any evidence that:

    * Ridd “is by no means a distinguished academic in his discipline presently or during his employment of the university”;
    * he violated the rights of others in his statements – those affected others need to testify if this is true;
    * his statements were in any way wrong.

    I think the judge is warning JCU that unless they start backing up some of these claims, findings of fact will be against them.

  25. Mother Lode

    He said that in the face of the criticisms that Dr Ridd made of the lack of quality assurance, lack of checking and reproducibility of the scientific research at JCU, and the Australian Institite of Marine Science that JCU didn’t address his criticisms but pursued code of conduct actions against him.

    JCU responded with “Your Honour, we beg you to rephrase your observation as we, not being legal professionals, are not as familiar with Latin (‘qualitia assurans’, ‘reprodus’, ‘abilitio’) as Your Honour.”

  26. Mother Lode

    The odd thing I noticed was that JCU barely made reference to the EBA. It was as if it had been consigned to the bottom drawer. Their case was built around breaches of the code of conduct and how the code limited the scope of the intellectual freedom provisions of the EBA. It was quite bizarre.

    It has possibly enough in every other case of clamping down on a rogue academic. Could lead to a certain tunnel vision and by the time they sought legal counsel in response to Ridd’s suit it was too late since Ridd had the trail of correspondence.

    Then it is up to JCU’s lawyer to find a strategy to deal with that reality – focus on arguing the code of conduct.

  27. Des Deskperson

    ‘The odd thing I noticed was that JCU barely made reference to the EBA. It was as if it had been consigned to the bottom drawer. Their case was built around breaches of the code of conduct and how the code limited the scope of the intellectual freedom provisions of the EBA. It was quite bizarre.’

    If JCU management want the Code of Conduct to be the overriding instrument in governing intellectual freedom, then why on earth did they agree to any clause in the EBA on intellectual freedom? It sounds like either stupidity or mendacity.

    Of course, the standard of HRM in university administrations is usually pretty week and poor. Remember QUT.

  28. John A

    J.H. #2972132, posted on March 28, 2019, at 12:33 am

    Good stuff. I was worried that politics would override justice. Looks like the judge wants JCU to address Dr Ridd’s criticisms before looking at code of conduct issues.

    Ridd should be able to win from there.

    Sounds like “a slam-dunk for the defence,” eh?

    But that kind of summing up was a feature of two other highly public cases – and look what happened to Lindy and to George.

    Let’s not hatchet our counts before they chicken…

  29. Des Deskperson

    ‘Oh, and the Code of Conduct is not a legally sanctioned instrument, just an internal policy. Has no weight.’

    The Code interprets and applies the Queensland Public Sector Ethics Act to JCU. This plus the fact that an employee would almost certainly have had to sign up to it when engaged, makes it, in my view, legally enforceable.

    However, this is, as they say, academic, since the EBA overrides it.

  30. amortiser

    John A:

    The difference with those 2 cases you cite is that here we have a judge only trial.
    While he was at pains to indicate that he had not yet made a definitive decision, you could see where he was heading without something new coming forward from the defence.

    Starts again in less than 30 minutes.

  31. Kneel

    “* Ridd “is by no means a distinguished academic in his discipline presently or during his employment of the university”;”

    Ah – then clearly, this supports Peter’s position, does it not?
    I mean, if he’s not “distinguished” despite 40 years of research and teaching, and a professorship, then I think JCU might have to show how the people he was allegedly disparaging were “more distinguished”, “better qualified” to comment etc – after all, if someone has been there for 5 years, doesn’t have a PhD yet, and very few published papers, they can hardly be “more distinguished” than Peter, can they? Are they *all* longer serving than Peter? They *all* have a larger publications list? Have none of them ever suggested someone at JCU was “an idiot”, “useless” etc? Hard to credit that is the case…

  32. The Sheriff

    Good to see Stuart Wood QC smashing JCU.

  33. 2dogs

    Hard to see how JCU can get around section 387 (d) of the Fair Work Act. Given they banned Ridd from talking to his wife.

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