Climate Scientist Sues National Post

Wed, 2010-04-21 15:26Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Climate Scientist Sues National Post

Suit Could Hold Paper Responsible for Comments and Internet Repetitions

Dr. Andrew Weaver, one of the most respected climate scientists in Canada and one of the best climate modellers in the world, has launched a libel suit against the National Post newspaper and its publisher, editors and three writer: Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster and Kevin Libin.

In the words of a news release broadcast today, the suit is for “a series of unjustified libels based on grossly irresponsible falsehoods that have gone viral on the Internet.”

The 48-page Statement of Claim (download the PDF version here) sets out a National Post  pattern of reporting critical and erroneous material about Weaver and, in recent times, refusing to retract or correct when inaccuracies are brought to the paper’s attention. An obvious example was an allegation that Weaver had (or was about to) quit his Nobel-winning role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - an allegation Weaver dismissed out of hand.

Two elements of the suit could be of interest to every online publication that offers or encourages the retransmission of its material. In addition to citing reader comments among the libels posted on the National Post site, Weaver is asking for an unprecedented Court order requiring the newspaper to help track down and remove defamatory National Post articles from the many other Internet sites where they have been re-posted.

That, if granted, would cause the paper no end of trouble and could create a precedent that would make every paper in the world think twice before posting so much as a single DIGG link at the bottom of a story.

AttachmentSize
andrew weaver statement of claim.pdf2.03 MB

Previous Comments

Go Dr. Weaver! Stop their misinformation!

If he hasn’t already, Dr. Weaver ought to start a fund to accept donations to cover his expenses. I’m sure many who believe the science would contribute.

Grab ‘em by the ankles and shake the pennies loose!

This is exactly the kind of offensive strategy that scientists and the general public need to take. It’s a sad situation when the courts have to enforce what should be simple journalism, but this is what it has come to. Maybe with enough of these kinds of suits, media outlets will start to take their subject matter seriously again, instead of parroting the latest press release.

It takes a legal degree to know libel law well enough to figure out how this will go. If Weaver were in the U.S., he would have no standing if he were deemed a “public figure.” I don’t know if Canadian law makes that distinction. This may come down to a court deciding if a scientist counts as a public figure or not simply because he participates in international fora (Weaver is one of the IPCC lead authors) or appears on TV programs. Good luck to Weaver. denier journalism needs to get a black eye over all the lies they have been spreading.

My first reaction to this story was This is great! High time somebody went on the offensive and nailed these guys for their unsubstantiated rantings. Then I started to read the writ, and what an eye-opener. I don’t see that Dr Weaver has any alternative to launching a defamation suit. The vitriol being splashed around on the flimsiest of “evidence” is amazing. I wonder how these John Doe/Jane Roe defendants would react to their qualifications and moral character being smeared in this way? Nobody should be allowed to get away with making comments like those listed in the writ and then hide behind an alias. And what on earth has become of journalism? Doesn’t anybody run this past the lawyers anymore? If there isn’t a law, there should be.

Take the time to read it. Awhile back some of us who regularly comment here made a point of identifying ourselves and taking responsibility for our remarks. It’s time to say again, have the courage of your convictions. If you don’t have the nerve to comment under your own name, then think again about what you are saying.

This post is dedicated to Rob Port in North Dakota.

Fern Mackenzie

Fern, you missed a really important point about anonymous comments.

Astro-turf is an important part of this PR war. The so-called think tanks that are publishing bogus science and press releases denying climate change are also participating in on-line comments forums in an attempt to influence (or fabricate) public opinion. If we can force their identities out into the open, we can prove it, and maybe even counteract it.

I think this is a very deliberate tactic on Andrew Weaver’s part, and a clever bit of work indeed.

I think it will be important for these issues to be brought up in court of law because it will allow evidence to be brought forward on each issue mentioned in the case including Mann’s Hockey stick graph. Courts are great because it will help settle somethings as well for all the AWG supporters and non supporters alike, bring it on. So don’t crow so loud yet no matter what side your on look what happened to Gore in Britain the ruling was not in his favor and his film is now labeled propaganda in British schools. As Mr Littemore pointed out in the UofL paper its funny how its not the deniers who are the only ones who run to the law when confronted. look at what Mann did this week went after those who posted the Hide the Decline parody with the threat of Law suit. Interesting. Will see were this goes.

Travis Curr

I like the part about the NP having to help get third party websites to remove the defamatory material. It recognizes that libels can travel fast and far on the Internet and it takes a lot of work to counter them.

Just want to indicate support for Dr. Weaver - I do hope this will make some of the media think a little from now on, before they go off on rants!

Good for him!

While we generally support the legal efforts of alarmist Dr. Weaver, we are chuckling over the fact that the Nationial Post is essentially bankrupt. No money to get out of those guys. Soon, we will be starting a new column on our own blog (www.friendsofginandtonic.org):

“The prophecies of Lorne Gunter!”

Hey, you warmists, can you sing? If so, join us here:
http://friendsofginandtonic.org/page1/files/df94ee20f16da9cf2edea970232325c4-42.html

Ironically, Dr. Singer (the famous denialist) cannot sing and Dr. Weaver cannot weave.

I can only be supportive for Dr. Weaver. Journalists have the task to inform correctly, and in case of mistakes, adjustments must be taken care of. Protection

Bankruptcy does not discharge liability for tort. And the Claim names individuals.

I believe accusing someone of a crime is libel.

The National Post claimed that the break-ins did not happen. Making a false report to the police is a crime in the U.S,; I guess it is in Canada too.

Canada does not have the U.S. First Amendment which makes
libel cases hard to win in the U.S.
I suspect that if Weavers lawyers took this case forward, it will be won.

It’s despicable what the NP and especially the comments said about Dr. Weaver. This sounds like a slam dunk libel case, but it is often a long and difficult process suing the media. I hope Dr. Weaver is able to see the suit through tot he bitter end. He deserves justice.

Tadashi Watanabe, an outspoken AGW denier and professor of industrial chemistry at the University of Tokyo, wrote about what he calls “Climategate” on a monthly science literacy magazine “Kagaku” (meaning “chemistry”, not “science” in general in this case) in the March 2010 issue, and in the May issue again. The content can be viewed at the web site of the magazine http://www.kagakudojin.co.jp/kagaku/ (Note that all contents and menu of the web site are in Japanese, and that the magazine contents are in the format of “Flash” rather than PDF.)

Near the end of his article in the March issue, Watanabe mentioned that Weaver demanded resignation of Pachauri, with reference to the 27 January issue of “National Post”. It was framed as if IPCC was being discredited even by its insiders.

In Japan, there is no discernible fossil fuel lobbyist activities. (On the other hand, nuclear power lobbyist activities which sometimes promote AGW alarmism is discernible though it is not strong either.) Watanabe may be an exception. His beliefs that the environment is becoming better by business-as-usual and that the goverment expense for AGW mitigation is wasterful seem to be his own, but his stories about the issue of climate change sounds to be made in North America. (Other outspoken AGW denialists say something much more original.) I do not know whether he is paid by someone to make propaganda or he does with his own missionary zeal.

It’s one thing to make a mistake. But to make a few and not retract them when these ‘errors’ are pointed out?
Makes one wonder what their agenda is

It appears that this is the area where one is guilty until proven innocent. Surely if there were break ins, there would/should have been police reports. Easy to verify. Until day in court for all concerned, these posts are pure speculation or somewhat along the same lines as a lot of the what could be determined as “defamation” on this site. Think “Canada” “constitution” freedom of speech, etc., etc. Blogs decision appears to be “GUILTY” because we say so.

A blog post of interets:

“…Here’s a couple of examples. On February 3, 1997, Corcoran wrote a piece for the Globe and Mail that stated that the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association (NSRA) had used money from public funding to attack tobacco-industry-friendly politicians. The NSRA did no such thing, and the NSRA sued the Globe and Mail and got an apology and a settlement…” http://broughton.ca/bob-broughtons-blog-mainmenu-26/154-corcoran-2

Did the Post respond? It has been over 3 weeks since the statement of claim was filed.

What has happened to this suit?
Has the NP responded?