Originally published on DeSmogBlog, co-authored by Richard Littlemore.
Affidavits filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court libel litigation brought by climate scientist Michael Mann against climate science denier Timothy Ball reveal that Ball's collaborator and self-styled "legal advisor" has misrepresented his credentials and endured some significant legal embarrassments of his own.
The affidavits also reveal that Tim Ball was "aware of the charges against John O'Sullivan almost from the start" and has tried to distance himself from his erstwhile advisor and writing partner.
The affidavits [1, 2] come from research of science and medical writer Andrew Skolnick, who documents O'Sullivan's misrepresentations, backtracking and questionable behavior.
Tim Ball and John O'Sullivan had a close working relationship, even before Mann sued Ball for libel in March 2011. For example, they co-authored the climate science denial book Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory, which was published in 2010.
Skolnick's evidence shows that O'Sullivan made a series of false claims, including:
One affidavit includes an online comment in which O'Sullivan says, "For your information, I am a retired academic and I have litigated personally or assisted others in pro se litigation at every level of court there is in New York State as well as Federal level, for over a decade and never lost."
Although O'Sullivan admits in this particular comment that he is not, in fact, licensed to practice law, in the U.S. or the U.K., he adds, "I'm just some Brit with a brain who can go live with his American wife in her country and kick ass big time around a courtroom."
Certainly, O'Sullivan was successful in winning an acquittal when he was personally charged in England as a high school teacher accused of sending lewd text messages and assaulting a 16-year-old female. Given the acquittal, it would not generally be appropriate to bring up this sordid and unproven bit of history, except that O'Sullivan himself went on to write an "erotic" "novel" with a startlingly similar storyline: Vanilla Girl: a Fact-Based Crime Story of a Teacher's Struggle to Control His Erotic Obsession with a Schoolgirl.
Although eager to present himself as a science researcher of accomplishment -- certainly Tim Ball's equal -- Skolnick's research found that O'Sullivan is highly prone to error, whether intentional or not.
This information emerged, and became relevant to this most recent libel action against Tim Ball, in part because Ball himself, in his Response to Civil Claim, stated that his communications with O'Sullivan were subject to solicitor-client privilege.
Mann then filed a reply, pointing out the facts documented in Skolnick's affidavits. As Mann's lawsuit proceeds, the court will inevitably rule on Ball's claim for "solicitor-client" privilege.
In the meantime, Ball has not submitted any affidavit from O'Sullivan attesting to his qualifications as Ball's legal advisor. If he did, O'Sullivan would be subject to cross-examination by Michael Mann's lawyer.
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