The report is far from being a whitewash. And nor does it justify the claim of university vice-chancellor Sir Edward Action that it is a "complete exoneration". In particular it backs critics who see in the emails a widespread effort to suppress public knowledge about their activities and to sideline bloggers who want to access their data and do their own analysis.
Most seriously, it finds "evidence that emails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them [under Freedom of information law]". Yet, extraordinarily, it emerged during questioning that Muir Russell and his team never asked Jones or his colleagues whether they had actually done this.
Secrecy was the order of the day at CRU. "We find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness," says the report. That criticism applied not just to Jones and his team at CRU. It applied equally to the university itself, which may have been embarrassed to find itself in the dock as much as the scientists on whom it asked Sir Muir to sit in judgment.
The university "failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory requirements" -- FOI law in particular – and "also the risk to the reputation of the university and indeed the credibility of UK climate science" from the affair.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
From The Guardian (UK) report on Muir Russell's investigation of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia: