Brill’s bills still unpaid, but Barry’s off to Vegas

The attempt by a small group of climate cranks to bring a legal case against the New Zealand temperature record will leave the taxpayer to pick up a bill likely to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Radio NZ News yesterday. Efforts by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to recover court-ordered costs of $90,000 from the NZ Climate Science Education Trust (CSET) are virtually certain to fail according to the official liquidator, leaving the bill to be met by taxpayers. The Trust has no assets, and the prospects of any pay out are rated “unlikely”. But despite initiating the legal case and orchestrating the trust’s attempts to avoid meeting its liabilities, Barry Brill, the retired lawyer and former National Party politician who chairs the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, is flying off to Las Vegas to speak at the latest climate crank networking event organised by far-right US lobby group the Heartland Institute.

The latest report from the official liquidator (pdf) makes it obvious that the CSET was formed with the express intention of bringing the court action and as a cover to protect the litigants from the financial consequences of failure. It also raises serious questions about the way that the case was funded. The evidence is damning:

  • The CSET’s statement of claim against NIWA was filed with the High Court on July 5th, 2010.
  • The CSET’s deed of trust is dated July 30th – more than three weeks after the case was filed in its name.
  • The CSET was not officially registered as a trust until August 10th, 2010.
  • The CSET did nothing except bring an action against NIWA.

In addition, according to the liquidator’s report, the CSET had no assets, did not receive or disburse any monies, and did not keep any financial records. But CSET trustee Bryan Leyland told the Sunday Star Times in January:

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”.

The statements made to the liquidator tell a different story:

The trustees were questioned about how the charitable trust funded the legal proceedings against NIWA. They advised that all legal advice and representation was provided on a pro bono basis and Mr Brill paid for the court fees personally.

Leyland’s comments to the SST are clearly not compatible with the statements made to the official liquidator. If a “large amount of money” was spent on the case, but legal representation was provided pro bono, where was the money spent and why was it not channeled through the trust and properly recorded in the CSET’s accounts? Either Leyland was misleading the Sunday Star Times, or he was misleading the official liquidator.

It’s worth recalling that Brill’s original presentation of the CSET’s arguments was so bad that the trust had to call in a barrister — Terry Sissons — to lick their arguments into shape, and present the case in the High Court. Did Sissons represent the CSET pro bono? On the face of it, that seems unlikely. If he did not, was he paid by Brill, the trustees or a third party, and why was that not recorded by the Trust as expenditure on their activities?

It is clear that Brill and the trustees have serious questions to answer regarding the management and funding of their legal action, and their misuse and mismanagement of a charitable trust.

Meanwhile, Brill is off to the Heartland Institute’s 9th “conference” on climate change. Readers with long memories may recall that the last time Brill addressed the world’s assembled cranks1 he was pushing legal action against national temperature records as something that should be tried all over the world.

Brill’s travel expenses are likely to have been funded by Heartland — who have a history of funding NZ climate crank organisations. He is set to appear on a panel2 discussing “international perspectives on climate change”, along with potty peer Christopher Monckton and Sebastian Luning from Germany.

I think we can safely assume that Brill will not be describing the failure of his much vaunted legal action, or passing the hat round in order to help the New Zealand taxpayer meet the costs of his stupid, self-serving and politically-motivated legal action.

  1. In Washington in 2011, see footnote 2 here. []
  2. From 4pm to 5pm on Tuesday , July 8, full schedule here. []

59 thoughts on “Brill’s bills still unpaid, but Barry’s off to Vegas”

  1. Didn’t the judge award costs against the individual directors rather than the Trust to prevent this from occurring? Or did the Trust manage to appeal this?
    This is disgusting behaviour by a small group of people who ironically bang on about how climate scientists supposedly wasting tax-payers’ money.

    1. NIWA asked for costs to be awarded against the trustees, but the judge declined to do so. But you are right about the disgusting behaviour.

  2. On the plus side, Heartland will not be happy with Barry. This case has neutered Brill, Dunleavy et. al. as spokesmen and consigned them as cranks who don’t pay their bills. Anyone is entitled to their day in court but you must pay your dues if you lose.

    1. I see the cost of attending the conference is only $129 including meals plus discounted hotel options. Heartland is subsidising this conference in a big way to encourage people to attend, which indicates the lack of credibility or interest in the event.

  3. At the time it was hard for me to imagine that they believed they would win. I told people that an 8 year old who understood how to average like quantities would be able to see how fallacious their arguments were. I did suspect they thought the publicity they would generate would increase the doubt of the populous concerning climate science regardless of the outcome as the public would be unlikely to follow any technical discussion or judgement but would only recall the initial doubt. What one hears or reads first is what sticks in the mind.

  4. However,
    This is small change for a supposed “science” that has made no progress in estimating climate senstivity to CO2 over the last 3 decades, despite hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at this supposed problem in the meantime.

      1. Ooh, I reckon he knows this sucks, and just how hypocritical it is to defend dumping this cost on taxpayers… but what’s a Denier to do? Nothing left but to double down on the crazy- and go down with the ship.

        A committed inability to understand ECS is a tribal requirement. Like algoreisfat and claiming to have bested Mike Mann…

        1. 35 years ago, ECS was estimated to be between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees, with no central estimate.

          35 years later, ECS is estimated to be between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees, with no central estimate.

          1. Please confine discussion in this thread to the subject of the original post. If you want to know more about what we’ve learned about the climate system in the last 30 years, please read the IPCC or Spencer Weart. ECS is not the only relevant metric.

          2. andyS, you could go and have a nice wide ranging discussion on the topic over at Bishops Hill in the cosy warmth of avoiding reality. You used to like talking about the NIWA and Climate Science Coalition over there didn’t you. In fact back in December 2010 other contributors were asking you to keep them up to date with the court case.
            Are you going over there to update them Andy? Remember, it is Bishops Hill so you can give free range to your fantasies of what actually happened and how the brave CSC triumphed against the naughty lying NIWA.

            1. Sorry, Beaker, I am busy helping with my son with his school assignment.

              It’s on wind farms

            2. Well if your son needs any help from someone who knows what they are talking about, we can post up lots of objective information on the upcoming open thread. A lot better dont you think than claptrap from the daily mail and your NIMBY facebook friends.

            3. Dear Mr Beaker,
              I appreciate your kind offer of help.
              We have done some studies of wind turbine manufacturers specs and how they match to data provided by NIWA on NZ average wind speeds

              If we feel we need further input from someone who uses a muppet pseudonym, I’ll be in touch

              Once again, thanks

            4. If we feel we need further input from someone who uses a muppet pseudonym

              This from someone using a golliwog as an icon? Puhleese!

            5. Well you know enough about maths to comprehend how many errors you could include if you were using a coarse national data set at a height of what 10m? and then extrapolating this up to hub height for a specific location. Will you be including estimates of surface roughness and accounting for the terrain? Perhaps you are just involving your son into your obsesive compulsion, seeking to invent evidence that wind turbines are somehow wrong for some reason. If so, you may want to ask yourself why wind turbine developers seeking finance have to pay for power forcast based upon data from an anemometer mast with instruments at or close to hub height, and several points below, along with temperature, humidity and barometric pressure readings – all over a period of eighteen months plus (10min averages), the forecast being prepared by an independent consultant of the banks choosing? The banks get good forecasts of power production, see the performance of turbines they have funded, and go on to fund further developments. They don’t bother with national wind speed databases.
              It could be a little embarrassing if the son assisted by the parent proud of their prestigious maths degree ignored all such pertinent data just to present a meaningless mashup of average wind speeds and manufacturers rated power. Far more embarrassing than using the name (just the one mind you!) Beaker.

            6. Beaker, this is a year 9 assignment, not a PhD project.
              However, we can’t get too much information from the wind industry, because in general I find them very rude and aren’t interested in helping the public.

              How many hours or weeks do you think is appropriate for a year 9 poster project?

            7. “How many hours or weeks do you think is appropriate for a year 9 poster project?” For a foolish and pointless exercise, no hours at all. There is a lesson to be learnt in that for you andyS.
              Were the wind industry very rude to you? Before or after you started shouting Birdchoppers?

            8. That Year 9 Project of mini Andy will be a fascinating read no doubt. I guess the teacher will spot the anti-wind energy zealot father’s gobbledygook from miles away…. 😉
              I am reminded of one of the last episodes on Shortland Street…. It ended with the Dean calling home to have a stern word with the father who had written his sons paper… 😉
              You must be sooo desperate AndyS. Fighting societies progress towards a lower carbon economy must be mentally straining…. Oh the inner turmoil…. 😉

            9. For a foolish and pointless exercise, no hours at all

              Why do you think my son’s homework assignment is a foolish and pointless exercise? Have you even asked what the exercise is?

            10. Thomas
              My son’s project won’t contain any anti-wind rhetoric

              I explained to him that in order to pass, he need to give the information that the teacher wants, not that which is correct.

            11. andyS what a despicable ba$tard you are:

              I explained to him that in order to pass, he need to give the information that the teacher wants, not that which is correct.

            12. andyS what a despicable ba$tard you are

              You really are quite fond of this “despicable” word aren’t you?

              Unlike you and your ilk, I don’t feel the need to indoctrinate children with my world view. They are quite capable, in my experience, of determining what is right and what is correct, which are not the same things

              I once had an argument with my primary school teacher, who asked me about a shape, which she thought was a “diamond”. I saw a square rotated through 45 degrees, so square is the right answer.

              However, “diamond” was the correct answer

            13. No Andy, to pass your son has to do his own research and report what he finds.

              On Wind energy (and the rest of the topics we cover here) he will likely find that you have been lying to him and indoctrinating him all these years with your wicket mind. Bummer when he grows up and figures it all out!

              And yes, I second Ian in saying what needs to be said.

            14. “I explained to him that in order to pass, he need to give the information that the teacher wants, not that which is correct.” Projecting again andyS?

            15. This episode in the book of AndyS against the rest of the world (somebody ought to write that one….) reminds me of a student I knew from my own high school time. His parents were brainwashed enough in the Hitler times that they could not believe the Holocaust happened and so on. The had taught their son that the Brits had started the war and that it was all the fault of the international Jewish bankers anyway….
              Needless to say that the poor lad was very confused when reality finally struck him at school. He eventually realized what had happened to him. He could not reconcile this and fell out completely with his parents who many years later died, still in denial about history. I guess this will repeat itself in many cases with the epic deniers of reality today and their offspring.

            16. Thomas,
              Thanks for taking the time to use the Hitler analogy.
              As it happens, my mother was brainwashed in 1930s Germany to believe that the Jews were untermenschen, and it took some time to undo this propaganda from her brain when she was evacuated to Britain after several members of our family had been killed

              Thanks again for reminding me if these times

            17. No Andy, to pass your son has to do his own research and report what he finds.

              ..which is precisely what he is doing, teenage hormones and Facebook distractions notwithstanding

            18. Tha thread at Bishop Hill that you link to has one comment from me, where I appear ambivalent about the issue, and several comments by Richard T.

              So why do,you think I am the one who is responsible to the Bishop Hill readership about this case?

            19. I would never describe you as responsible, I was simply pointing out that you used to like talking about the NIWA over at Bishops Hill, and others there wanted you to keep them up to date with this NZ story. However interest in this story at Bishops Hill just stopped. Was it because yet another nail in the coffin of AGW turned out to be a figment of the deniers imagination, and they whacked their thumb with the hammer, again.

  5. In a peculiar way I’m not worried that the Climate Science Coalition has used this dubious trust and obfusticated about the whole thing. It proves to me they have no ethics, cannot be trusted and are incredible hypocrites.

    So their “science” is even less credible to me. A thicket in a field is a perfect description. Pay the money back you thickets.

      1. As they have to date cost the NZ taxpayer around $400,000 and growing, I hope your “concern” with regards taxpayers having to foot bills…(e.g. you uneducated response to the Greens proposed Carbon tax) will also extend to the repayment of these tax funded costs also.

      2. In my humble opinion Brill and his compatriots should have their passports confiscated until they pay up. We must start to put and end to the chain dragging of these guys. The cost that loggerheads as these cause to society is far more than the $$ of legal expense. Every year that passes without our society making solid plans to mitigate the damage we are wrecking on the planet is costing us so much.

        1. Would you propose the same for all people that don’t pay their fines Thomas?
          for example, the thousands that don’t pay their traffic infringement and speeding fines?
          Would you also confiscate their passports?

          Perhaps you’d like to explain to us the legal framework under which this might work.

          I don’t put any judgement on the Brill et al case here. If what they did was apparently unethical but within the framework of the law, then maybe the law needs a revamp.

          However, you can’t start demanding confiscation of passports just because they disagree with your views

        2. Were it a fine, or a student loan, then there are restrictions on travel from NZ; entry to other countries – particularly the states – is restricted as well. But then it depends on who you are.

  6. I understand the CSC used this trust obviously as a mechanism to avoid liability. Which of course is hypocritical of them, given their criticisms of alleged money grubbing climate scientists.

    However this reminds me of the way the building industry sets up project specific companies so that if it goes wrong you have a company with no money left, and you can’t sue the main company.The law is a joke.

    1. A quick google of “trustee personal liabilty NZ” yields the following gem:

      It is a common misconception that an independent trustee’s liability is limited to the assets of the trust regardless of the circumstance in which liability arises. However, this is not the case. Trustees act personally. This means that a trustee is personally liable for any debt incurred when acting as a trustee, regardless of whether the trustee can benefit personally from the trust. There is no special status at law that attaches to acting as a trustee such that personal liability can be avoided.

      Although it is common for a modern deed of trust to include a clause limiting the trustee’s liability to the assets of the trust, what many trustees fail to appreciate is that this limitation of liability applies between the trustee and the beneficiaries, not between the trustee and the world at large.

      Any limitation of liability must be expressly stated. Simply entering into a contract or agreement as a trustee is generally insufficient to ensure limitation of liability…

      I expect that NIWA’s lawyers are now poring over the NZCSET trust deed as they contemplate their next move.

      Go NIWA!

      1. Having now read the NZCSET trust deed, I think Dunleavy, Edmeades and Leyland will be toast, should NIWA decide to pursue them.

        Of course, the indemnity clause in the deed would enable those gentlemen to recoup their personal losses from the (non-existent) assets of the Trust!


        Here is the link;

        (Search keywords ‘Climate” and “Education”)

    1. Let’s say, for sake of argument, that the NZCET gets their work published in the peer-reviewed literature (I know, a belly-aching laugh a minute, but let’s just imagine this scenario)

      Do you imagine that NIWA with their non-peer-reviewed temperature series would look that flash?

      Just a thought

      1. Two problems with your thought.

        The Treadgold reconstruction would fail to pass peer review (unless the peer was Monckton) in any mainstream climate journal, because it includes basic errors. These were described in NIWA’s evidence to the High Court, but that evidence is not currently available to the public (both parties and the judge have to agree to its release). If Treadgold et al had not made those errors, their series would have been pretty much indistinguishable from NIWA’s.

        NIWAs revised series was reviewed by the Aussie BOM, who are peers by any sensible definition. It is robust.

        As Treadgold admitted a long time ago, this was all a political stunt. They should pay up and shut up.

      2. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Lyndon LaRouche is elected President of the United States… Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Tony Abbott experiences an epiphany on the road to Savage River, and defects to the Greens, taking half of the Liberal cabinet with him… Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Ann Coulter is appointed as the head of the EPA…

        Followed by a non sequitur. Well done, andy!

  7. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that US Democrats finally take a stand on climate issues…

    But wait, strange as it seems, that is actually happening:

    Democrats are convinced that climate change is the new same-sex marriage, an issue that is moving irreversibly in their favor, especially among young people, women and independents, the voters who hold the keys to the White House in 2016…

    “The climate deniers in the GOP are beginning to sound like the Flat Earth Society, and what will help them in GOP primaries and gerrymandered districts is going to kill them with swing voters in national elections… (it)
    plays into the Republican troglodyte brand: anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science.”

    Hmm… anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science. Who else fits that description, I wonder?

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