Jamie Doward, home affairs editor
The Observer, UK
Stewart Dimmock's high-profile fight to ban the film being shown in schools was depicted as a David and Goliath battle, with the Kent school governor taking on the state by arguing that the government was 'brainwashing' pupils.A High Court ruling last week that the Oscar-winning documentary would have to be screened with guidance notes to balance its claims was welcomed by climate-change sceptics.
The Observer has established that Dimmock's case was supported by a powerful network of business interests with close links to the fuel and mining lobbies. He was also supported by a Conservative councillor in Hampshire, Derek Tipp.
Dimmock credited the little-known New Party with supporting him in the test case but did not elaborate on its involvement. The obscure Scotland-based party calls itself 'centre right' and campaigns for lower taxes and expanding nuclear power.
Records filed at the Electoral Commission show the New Party has received nearly all of its money - almost £1m between 2004 and 2006 - from Cloburn Quarry Limited, based in Lanarkshire.
The company's owner and chairman of the New Party, Robert Durward, is a long-time critic of environmentalists. With Mark Adams, a former private secretary to Tony Blair, he set up the Scientific Alliance, a not-for-profit body comprising scientists and non-scientists, which aims to challenge many of the claims about global warming.
The alliance issued a press release welcoming last week's court ruling and helped publicise Dimmock's case on its website. It also advised Channel 4 on the Great Global Warming Swindle, a controversial documentary screened earlier this year that attempted to challenge claims made about climate change.
In 2004 the alliance co-authored a report with the George C Marshall Institute, a US body funded by Exxon Mobil, that attacked climate change claims. 'Climate change science has fallen victim to heated political and media rhetoric ... the result is extensive misunderstanding,' the report's authors said.
Martin Livermore, director of the alliance, confirmed Durward continued to support its work. 'He provides funds with other members,' Livermore said.
In the Nineties, Durward established the British Aggregates Association to campaign against a tax on sand, gravel and rock extracted from quarries. Durward does not talk to the media and calls to the association requesting an interview were not returned last week. However, he has written letters to newspapers setting out his personal philosophy. One letter claimed: 'It is time for Tony Blair to try the "fourth way", declare martial law and let the army sort out our schools, hospitals and roads.'
He later clarified his comments saying he was merely pointing out that the army had done a 'fantastic job' in dealing with the foot and mouth crisis. He has also asked whether there has been a 'witch-hunt against drunk drivers'.
Dimmock also received support from a new organisation, Straightteaching.com, which calls for politics to be left out of the classroom. The organisation, which established an online payment system for people to make contributions to Dimmock's campaign, was set up by Tipp and several others. Its website was registered last month to an anonymous Arizona-based internet company.
Tipp, who is described on the website as having been a science teacher in the Seventies and Eighties, declines to talk about who else is backing it. 'There are other people involved but I don't think they want to be revealed,' he said.
He said he thought his organisation could bring more cases against the government. 'There are a lot of people who feel the climate change debate is being hyped up,' Tipp said. 'To try to scare people into believing the end is nigh is not helpful. We've been contacted by other teachers who raised concerns. There's a lot of interest, especially from people in the US.'