Scientists broke the law by hiding climate change data
- (Note: I'm sorry if this is off topic, but very informing about our obstacles' for Truth in every category...Dex)
Scientists broke the law by hiding climate change data: But legal loophole means they won't be prosecuted
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 11:21 PM on 28th January 2010
Accused: Professor Phil Jones asked a colleague to delete emails relating to a report by the IPCC
Scientist at the heart of the 'Climategate' email scandal broke the law when they refused to give raw data to the public, the privacy watchdog has ruled.
The Information Commissioner's office said University of East Anglia researchers breached the Freedom of Information Act when handling requests from climate change sceptics.
But the scientists will escape prosecution because the offences took place more than six months ago.
The revelation comes after a string of embarrassing blunders and gaffes for climate scientists and will fuel concerns that key researchers are too secretive and too arrogant.
It will pile pressure on the director of the university's climate change unit, Professor Phil Jones, who has stood aside while an investigation is carried out, and make it harder for him to return.
The ruling followed a complaint from retired engineer David Holland-66, whose Freedom of Information-requests were ignored.
Last night Mr Holland welcomed the watchdog's decision but said it was disappointing the researchers would not be prosecuted.
'All we are trying to do is make the scientists follow their own professional rules by being open, transparent and honest,' he said. 'We are not trying to show that human beings don't affect the climate, but to show that the science is not settled.'
Scientists at the University of East Anglia were encouraged to delete emails concerning claims that man-made emissions were causing global warming
The Climategate row broke in November when hundreds of stolen emails from the world-renowned Climate Research Unit in Norwich were posted online.
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The emails appeared to show researchers discussing how to manipulate historical temperature data and dodge requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
One request came in 2008 from Mr Holland, a grandfather from Northampton and an engineering graduate. He was seeking evidence that scientists had cherry-picked research when preparing the previous year's UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
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After the request was received, a message from one academic to another on May 28, 2008, said: 'Oh MAN! Will this c**p never end?' In other emails the researchers complained that the unit was being bombarded with FOI requests from sceptics. And in another, researchers appeared to be encouraging each other to delete emails.
After the emails were published, Mr Holland complained to the Information Commissioner's Office. An ICO spokesman yesterday confirmed that the UEA breached the Freedom of Information Act.
He added: 'The emails which are now public reveal that Mr Holland's requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation.'
Climate change sceptics welcomed the ruling and called for the Climategate inquiry to be made public. Lord Lawson, head of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said it should also investigate whether the CRU denied opportunities to scientists trying to publish dissenting views.
Last week, the IPCC was forced to apologise after wrongly claiming the Himalayan glaciers could vanish within 25 years. Critics have also accused it of exaggerating the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes.
Earlier this week, Britain's chief scientific advisor, Professor John Beddington, called on climate scientists to be more honest about the uncertainties of global warming.
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