The New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET), the body established three years ago to bring a legal case against the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), has been put into liquidation without paying the costs awarded against it after its case failed — confirming my suspicion when the trust was formed that it had been created purely to protect the litigants from the consequences of a failed action. The NZCSET owes NIWA at least $89,238.90, but Steve Kilgallon at the Sunday Star Times reports that no monies have been paid:
NIWA chief executive John Morgan said it was still considering pursuing two of the trust’s key players – former wine journalist Terry Dunleavy, a Justice of the Peace and MBE, and retired lawyer Barry Brill, a former National MP – for the money, but was waiting for the liquidation process to finish.
He added: “On the surface it looks like the trust was purely for the purpose of taking action, which is not what one would consider the normal use of a charitable trust”.
Kilgallon also spoke NZCSET trustee Bryan Leyland:
Trustee Bryan Leyland, when asked about its assets, said: “To my knowledge, there is no money. We spent a large amount of money on the court case, there were some expensive legal technicalities.”
Funding had come “from a number of sources, which are confidential”.
Leyland thus confirms — perhaps inadvertently — that the NZCSET was created solely to bring the court action, and to protect its own trustees from the consequences of their actions. It was apparently able to find “a large amount of money” to pay its lawyers to run the action, but not to pay the costs awarded against it.
A quick look back at some of the dates associated with the trust and its case against NIWA is instructive:
- The NZCSET’s Statement of Claim against NIWA was filed in the High Court on July 5th 2010.
- The NZCSET’s Deed of Trust is dated July 30th, so the trust did not exist at the time the case began.
- The NZCSET’s registration as a trust was not granted until August 10th, shortly before news of the case hit the press.
- In the two and a half years since the formation of the NZCSET there is no sign that the trust attempted to meet any of its stated educational objectives.
It is quite clear from the actions of the trust, and the glib statements made by its trustees, that it was never intended to do anything other than bring a case against NIWA. It was always a legal manoeuvre — an attempt to hide the perpetrators of a piece of politically and ideologically-inspired tomfoolery behind NZ trust law.
If NIWA decides not to pursue Dunleavy, Leyland and Brill for restitution of its legal costs, then the NZ taxpayer will have to pick up the bill. Even if funds are forthcoming, they will not cover the huge waste of scientist and management time spent in handling the case. Having failed to make warming go away by litigation, they must now face up to the heat of public outrage at their scandalous misuse of public money.