Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wag TV threatens to sue Wunsch

According to George Monbiot, Wunsch
says he has received a legal letter from Durkin's production company, Wag TV, threatening to sue him for defamation unless he agrees to make a public statement that he was neither misrepresented nor misled.
This is of course with reference to Durkin's swindle on global warming, which Wunsch complained vigorously about, saying he was "duped" and that the program was "close to fraud", and threatening to take further action.

Personally I don't think that lawsuits either way are the best way forward. Even if Wag TV were to win, it's unlikely that this would outweigh the bad publicity they would certainly receive, and I'm sure that Wunsch would do better to forget the sorry episode than try to drag them though the Independent Television Commission complaints procedure. As I said at the time, it didn't seem like he was really seriously misrepresented except perhaps by association (there are certainly lots of worse manglings of science in the media, deliberate or not). And the email he was sent prior to his appearance should have been ringing alarm bells:
The aim of the film is to examine critically the notion that recent global warming is primarily caused by industrial emissions of CO2. It explores the scientific evidence which jars with this hypothesis and explores alternative theories such as solar induced climate change. Given the seemingly inconclusive nature of the evidence, it examines the background to the apparent consensus on this issue, and highlights the dangers involved, especially to developing nations, of policies aimed at limiting industrial growth.
OK, it's not absolutely explicit, but there were some warning signs there...and a google on Durkin would have thrown up his history too.

Surely it's best to let this die and not give it any more publicity...oops :-)


EliRabett said...

There is a long history of denialist SLAPP suits and threats thereof. However, the worm appears to have turned on Tim Ball, and in this case denial would be a bitch, showing pretty clearly the intent of the producers.

I understand that English law differs from US law, but it also is a much sharper two edged sword.

EliRabett said...

Opps, that should have been discovery would be a bitch....

Anonymous said...

I think you're a little too easy on these dorks that have the money (or quick connections to it) for lawyers & frivolous lawsuits. It sounds quite a bit like Tim Ball's lawsuits (i.e. to those pointing out the "emperor's new clothes", i.e. ridiculing his claim to be "First Climatology PhD in Canada", publisher of top papers in the field etc).

James Annan said...

As for Tim Ball, if a durkin such as he chooses to sue someone for writing something that is plainly true and not in the least defamatory then there's not much you can do except roundly abuse him and hope to get his frivolous case dismissed as quickly as possible (noting that truth is not in itself a defence, in English law at least).

ISTM that Wunsch and Wag are both being a bit provocative here, and when two people go mud-wrestling, even the winner gets muddy. Just imagine Wag/Durkin's future as documentary makers, after having sued an interviewee who feels he was misrepresented! Similarly, Wunsch is probably better off focussing on the interesting and thought-provoking science for which he is famed, rather than hauling a journalist over the coals for getting something wrong (even if deliberately). Sometimes, it's better to just let things go.

OTOH it all makes an interesting spectacle for the punters, so I'll follow developments with interest :-)

EliRabett said...

Pass the popcorn

LuboŇ° Motl said...

Lawsuits are annoying and they usually increase emotions - but in this particular case, I would be happy if Wag TV were able to sue and win such a lawsuit (which is far from guaranteed, of course).

It would remind the alarmists that the normal legal system is still valid even though they behave like if they were assuming that they are already what the German chancellor in the 1930s became after he also absorbed the chair of the state president. ;-)

A paying Wunsch would be a great example. I think it's very obvious that what he is saying about his links with Durkin's documentary are lies, and whatever is the force that drives him to emit such lies, it would be great if this force were shown to have a limited power.