Ex-Professor Peter Ridd – Now Unemployed
After an almost unbroken 40-year association with James Cook University, Peter Ridd has been fired. His employment has been terminated because he dared to tell the truth.
Last year, ex-professor Ridd went on Sky News and explained that the Australian government is spending more than one billion dollars on the Great Barrier Reef, implementing recommendations from research that has not been checked.
He has explained that Australian coral reefs that have supposedly lost all their coral, are in fact covered in healthy coral. Reefs that are supposedly smothered in sediments are not. Reefs that have been damaged by cyclones and bleaching have rapidly recovered because these are natural phenomena.
The university is not questioning the veracity of what ex-professor Ridd is saying, but his right to say this. In particular, the university is claiming that he has not been collegial, and continues to speak-out even after he was told to shut-up.
Ex-professor Ridd intends to fight all of this.
Ex-professor Ridd has reopened his GoFundMe site here.
The latest allegations, terminating in his sacking, were made a week or so after the very successful February 2018 GoFundMe campaign that raised almost $100K for Ridd’s legal defense.
The new allegations were built on the original serious misconduct charges that James Cook University made against ex-professor Ridd that can be found here . The original allegations relate to his comments in August 2017: that in the light of the replication crisis, much of the science coming from major Great Barrier Reef science institutions is unreliable due to inadequate quality assurance procedures. It is quite possible that much of the “science” claiming damage to the reef is flawed or highly exaggerated. In ex-professor Ridd’s view much of it is plain wrong.
All of the documentation is being made public, so you can make-up your own mind.
Ex-professor Ridd believes it is essential that all this information is available. There are hundreds of pages altogether. An easily readable summary can be found in this file Summary of Allegations with brief explanation
The dozen or so new allegations made by the university follow a familiar theme to the original 25 or so allegations. Perhaps the main points are James Cook University:
- Objects to the GoFundMe campaign because it breaches what they claim to be confidentiality provisions in Ridd’s employment agreement. The confidentiality direction is under contention in the Federal court. The university claims that Ridd was not allowed to talk about their action against him, i.e. he is supposedly not allowed to talk about JCU’s allegations and actions against him. They made allegations about him talking to his colleagues, newspapers and bloggers about the case, and other instances where he did not remain silent. Of all the university’s objections, most are related to the confidentiality restrictions.
(Of course, had Peter Ridd gone along with this he would have been unable to raise funds to get legal advice – to defend himself.)
(b) Claim Ridd has a conflict of interest with the Institute of Public Affairs because they have helped pay for some of his legal costs and paid for an air ticket and accommodation to be a special speaker at a couple of public meetings, the latter being standard practice in academia.
(c) Deny that they have curtailed Ridd’s academic freedom despite censuring him for his comments that are clearly within his area of expertise viz Great Barrier Reef science and Quality Assurance problems in science in general.
Three other remarkable allegations are that James Cook University:
(d) Claims that Ridd was wrong to state in the GoFundMe campaign that the university did not allow him to tell his wife about the original allegations. It is certainly true that after a couple of months the university finally relented and allowed Ridd to talk to his wife. Then shortly after, the university made two allegations of serious misconduct about emailing his wife information relating to the case.
(e) Accused Ridd that he “trivialised, satirised or parodied” the disciplinary process by sending a copy of a newspaper article about the case to an old friend with the subject line “for your amusement”. The university particularly objected to the use of the word “amusement”. Naughty word apparently, but the university thought-police got it totally wrong. Ridd sees nothing amusing about what is happening to him. The strain and pressure is constant and potentially crushing – he was being ironic.
(f) At the initial, and very frightening, serious misconduct interview in August 2017 when Ridd was handed by the Dean and HR representative the first set of allegations, and where there was a clear and imminent threat of dismissal, Ridd made it clear that he was going to fight the allegations all the way. Ridd said the words, “You should look at me as a poisonous fruit” and “[the University] could eat me…but it will hurt; I will make sure it hurts”. The university claims that this “language used is threatening, insubordinate, disrespectful”. In context, Ridd had just been told he was going into a procedure where the university is the judge, jury and probable executioner. He was simply being defiant against the odds.
But there is so much more, and you will have to read it yourself below.
In summary, in ex-professor Ridd’s opinion, the university restricted his academic freedom, attempted to silence a high performing and well-respected scientist with unjustified confidentiality restrictions, object to assistance from other parties, deem adversarial language as threatening or trivialising or disrespectful, and uses huge quantities of tax payer funding to a prosecute its case, and scare any other scientist who may be wish to speak-out into silence.
What next? This is going to court and ex-professor Ridd hopes to win.
This is a very important case as there are multiple modern societal failings contributing to this most unfortunate situation.
Nothing will change unless ex-professor Ridd has the opportunity to keep fighting.
Universities (not just James Cook University) no longer value free speech and debate, and there has been a general failure of our scientific institutions to do something about the replication crisis where around 50 percent of scientific findings are likely to be flawed.
This is a David and Goliath battle with one side having massive financial reserves and the other forced to rely on donations, all very generous – a few big, but a huge number that are small and also so important.
Please go here to donate if you can.
This file is the letter of termination by JCU. 2018-05-02 Letter – Professor Ridd – Final Determination_Redacted It marks an end to an almost 40 year association of Ridd with JCU.
This file is the response to the allegations by Ridd’s lawyers 2018-02-22 Letter to CU – response to third allegations (1)_Redacted
This file contains the allegations made against Ridd 2018-02-08-allegations-of-serious-misconduct-1_redacted B This file has the attachments. 100Mb file 2018-02-08 – Allegations of Serious Misconduct – Attachments_Redacted with all the gory detail.
This file is the notice of intention to terminate Ridd’s employment. 2018-04-13 Letter to Professor Ridd 13 April 2018_Redacted
This file is a brief response by Ridd’s Lawyers that foreshadows continuing legal action. 2018-04-20 Letter to JCU – 20 04 18_Redacted
This file is an updated Statement of Claims that is before the court (needs redacting) 2018-05-18 Amended Statement of Claim (1)_redacted
Allocation of donated funds:
It is difficult to predict the exact outcome of the case and it is possible that not all the GoFundMe money will be needed especially if the university decides to do the right thing and settle, and acknowledge what has actually happened, and reinstate Peter Ridd as a professor at the university. And who knows what will be happen if/when the university loses. Whatever funds ultimately are available at the end of the case will be used to either help other academics in similar situation or to support the quest for better quality assurance systems in science. There is a clear need for a fund to help people stand up for free speech and academic freedom. Ridd has only been able to fight because he has had enormous support for which he is eternally grateful. There are various avenues for this to be done including contributing to the Bob Carter memorial Fund.