Storm over stolen climate change data

AN independent review will investigate the allegations made by climate change “sceptics” that a series of stolen emails showed scientists were manipulating data, the university at the centre of the row said yesterday.

The material was taken from servers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit before it was published on websites run by sceptics, possibly in a bid to undermine next week’s global climate summit in Denmark.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) yesterday said distinguished Scottish civil servant and former principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Muir Russell, would head the independent review.

The investigation will look at the leaked email exchanges to see if there is any evidence of manipulation or suppression of data which would call into question the research findings of the centre.

The centre’s director, Professor Phil Jones, earlier this week said he would stand down from the post while the independent inquiry took place.

But he has said he “absolutely” stood by the science the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had produced and labelled suggestions of a conspiracy to alter evidence to support a theory of man-made climate change as “complete rubbish”.

The review will also look at CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, putting before peer review procedures and publishing data and research, and its compliance with the university’s rules on freedom of information inquiries.

And the probe will review and make recommendations on CRU’s security and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds, the university said.

The review will be completed by spring next year and made public.

Professor Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the university, said: “We want these allegations about CRU to be examined fully and independently”.

There is also a police investigation into the theft of the data, which includes more than 1,000 emails sent from or to members of the Climatic Research Unit, while threatening emails sent to Prof Jones in the wake of the leak have been passed to Norfolk Police.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, welcomed the appointment and terms of reference.

But he said: “One concern is that the results may not be published until the spring.

“This is probably necessary to allow a thorough investigation, but it does mean that those who are using ‘climategate’ as a propaganda tool for their own political ends might be able to enjoy many more weeks of mischief-making.”


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