James Cook Uni to Pay Peter Ridd $1.2M For Unlawful Firing
Written by The Australian
James Cook University must pay Professor Peter Ridd $1.2 million after unlawfully dismissing him for publicly criticizing their climate-change reef science.
Federal Circuit Court Justice Salvatore Vasta on Friday handed down the penalty following hearings earlier this year.
He ordered the Townsville university to pay Dr. Ridd $1,094,214.47 as compensation for past and future economic loss because of the unlawful sacking, as well as general compensation for more than “three years of unfair treatment.”
JCU will have to pay a further $125,000 as a way of penalty.
The judge lambasted the university, saying it had “failed to respect (Dr. Ridd’s) rights to intellectual freedom”.
The physics professor, who specialized in marine environments and worked at JCU for 30 years, on Friday lamented the ugly affair, saying it was “a fight that should never have started in the first place”.
“I have worked for 35 years on the Great Barrier Reef and my genuinely held belief is that there are systemic quality assurance problems at Great Barrier Reef science institutions,” he said.
“I had a right, a duty, to say this.
“JCU has still not accepted this fundamental right despite the importance of the debate to the north Queensland region.”
Dr. Ridd said that if JCU appeals, which it can do within the next three weeks, it would cast doubt on the institution’s claim to uphold academic freedom.
Having already spent more than $200,000 of his own money fighting the legal battle, on top of $260,000 accumulated through a crowdsourcing campaign, Dr. Ridd said he would need to ask for further donations to fight an appeal.
JCU is believed to have spent more than $600,000 in legal fees.
“My lawyers say it is a landmark case so it is imperative that we continue the fight if necessary,” Dr. Ridd said.
Read rest at The Australian
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