Professor Michael Mann — the litigious climatologist who invented the discredited “Hockey Stick” chart and was implicated heavily in the Climategate scandal — has lost a long-running lawsuit against Canadian climate sceptic Dr Tim Ball.
Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, had taken exception to a joke made by Ball in a 2011 interview, that he “should be in the State Pen, not Penn State.”
He sued Ball for defamation in the British Columbia courts. The case has dragged on for eight years and, together with a separate legal action launched by Professor Andrew Weaver, leader of the British Columbia Green Party, exhausted Ball’s savings and made his retirement years a misery.
Finally, the British Columbia Supreme Court has found in Ball’s favour. As a bonus, Mann will now have to pay Ball’s court costs.
This is the second case Ball has won against vexatious climate activists masquerading as dispassionate scientists.
He won the first last year against Weaver, who objected to a piece that Ball had written called ‘Corruption of Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years’.
The strategy employed by Weaver and Mann is not uncommon among the climate alarmist establishment: use the threat of litigation — or actual litigation — to bully and intimidate climate sceptics into silence.
As the judge in the Weaver case noted this is essentially a freedom of speech issue:
The law of defamation provides an important tool for protecting an individual’s reputation from unjustified attack. However, it is not intended to stifle debate on matters of public interest nor to compensate for every perceived slight or to quash contrary view points, no matter how ill–conceived. Public debate on matters of importance is an essential element of a free and democratic society and lies at the heart of the Charter guarantee of freedom of expression. As Justice Lebel observes, such debate often includes critical and even offensive commentary, which is best met through engagement and well–reasoned rejoinder. It is only when the words used reach the level of genuinely threatening a person’s actual reputation that resort to the law of defamation is available. Such is not the case here.
Ball’s criticisms of Mann concerned his now-infamous “hockey stick” graph which he created in 1999, initially to huge acclaim from the climate establishment. It featured prominently in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment report. Mann was widely feted for providing hitherto missing evidence that late 20th-century global warming was dramatic, unprecedented, and man-made.
However, sceptics soon began questioning the credibility of Mann’s chart.
As Bonner Cohen reported for CFACT in 2017 while the lawsuit was still dragging on:
Astounded by the sudden disappearance of the Medieval Warm Period — a time generally considered to have been warmer than the present — a growing chorus of critics demanded to see the underlying data on which the hockey-stick graph was based. Mann and his co-authors refused to release the data, even though their paper had been funded by U.S. taxpayers. The episode raised allegations that climate alarmists were engaging in “secret science.”
One of those critics was Tim Ball. In a 2011 interview, he quipped that Mann “should be in the State Pen, not Penn State.” Mann sued Ball for defamation in British Columbia under a procedure known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). SLAPP lawsuits are intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by threatening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism.
Mann did not help his case against Ball when he reportedly refused a direction by the BC Supreme Court to turn over data relating to his Hockey Stick chart.
Ball wrote at the time of Mann’s refusal:
We believe that he [Mann] withheld on the basis of a US court ruling that it was all his intellectual property. This ruling was made despite the fact the US taxpayer paid for the research and the research results were used as the basis of literally earth-shattering policies on energy and environment. The problem for him is that the Canadian court holds that you cannot withhold documents that are central to your charge of defamation regardless of the US ruling.”
It now appears that he called it correctly.
Ball — who described his experiences on the Delingpole podcast for Breitbart News in 2016 — can now enjoy a well-deserved and happy retirement.
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