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The skeptic at the centre of the heated debate about climate change that has been taking place in Canadian newspapers is moving the dispute to the courts, where Tim Ball is seeking $325,000 in damages for a letter to the editor that he says amounted to a "malicious attack" on his reputation.

Mr. Ball, who is the country's most well-known critic of global-warming theory, is suing the Calgary Herald and its editors, the University of Lethbridge and one if its professors, Dan Johnson, for defamation, according to documents filed this month with the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench.

The dispute stems from an opinion piece on global warming that Mr. Ball wrote for the Herald last April and a published letter written by Prof. Johnson, an environmental scientist at the southern Alberta institution, who subsequently questioned the credentials attributed to Mr. Ball at the end of his article.

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Mr. Ball was described as the first climatology PhD in Canada and as a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years.

Although Mr. Ball acknowledges that he only became a professor at the university in 1988, in his court documents he accuses the Herald of being negligent for not checking the accuracy of other contents of Prof. Johnson's letter.

The letter suggests Mr. Ball "falsified his professional and academic credentials" and that he does not have the qualifications to make "serious comments" about global warming, according to the lawsuit.

The allegations have not been proven in court. No statements of defence have been filed.

The Herald's lawyer, G. Scott Watson, said the paper has no comment on the suit.

However, the newspaper did publish a "clarification" last month.

The clairification noted that according to Mr. Ball's curriculum vitae, he has published 51 papers, 32 of them "directly related to climate and atmosphere."

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The University of Lethbridge says it cannot talk about the case because the matter is before the courts.

Prof. Johnson says he stands by his letter, pointing out that in science, the standard is publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals, not newspapers, newsletters and the Internet.

"The whole thing is a little disturbing," Prof. Johnson said. ". . . I'm not wild that I'm being sued for a lot of money."

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