Peter Ridd
Peter Ridd

Sacked climate sceptic’s last roll of the dice

Sacked James Cook University professor Peter Ridd will appear in the High Court today to seek special leave to appeal his controversial dismissal from the institution.

The marine scientist was fired by the university in 2018 over criticisms of colleagues' research on the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Ridd has argued his sacking was due to daring to speak the truth about science and the Great Barrier Reef.

But the university has denied the professor's climate change scepticism was the reason for his dismissal, saying it was due to repeated breaches of the institute's code of conduct.

A 2019 court decision found Dr Ridd had been unfairly dismissed and awarded him $1.2 million in compensation.

However JCU won an appeal in the Federal Court last July.


Former James Cook University professor Peter Ridd
Former James Cook University professor Peter Ridd


If today's appeal is successful, a hearing would likely be scheduled for later this year.

Dr Ridd, who was based at the university for 40 years until his dismissal, has raised over $700,000 via a GoFundMe to help with legal costs and told supporters he believed he had a strong case, though it would be a challenge.

"The High Court does not agree to hear most cases," he wrote to supporters.

"My understanding is that they only look at cases that have a wider legal implication.

"Academic/intellectual freedom clauses are in most university enterprise agreements so hopefully the High Court sees our case as important."

A JCU spokesman declined to comment on the matter while it was before the High Court.

Following his defeat in the Federal Court, Dr Ridd said he did not take the decision to appeal lightly.

"The financial and emotional costs are high and legal action is fraught with uncertainties," he said, adding the hundreds of thousands of dollars already spent on fighting his dismissal "rests heavily on my conscience".




Originally published as Sacked climate sceptic's last roll of the dice