Saturday, February 27, 2010
University ‘tried to mislead MPs on climate change e-mails’
The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails has been accused of making a misleading statement to Parliament.
The University of East Anglia wrote this week to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee giving the impression that it had been exonerated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). However, the university failed to disclose that the ICO had expressed serious concerns that one of its professors had proposed deleting information to avoid complying with the Freedom of Information Act.
Professor Phil Jones, director of the university’s Climatic Research Unit, has stepped down while an inquiry takes place into allegations that he manipulated data to avoid scrutiny of his claims that manmade emissions were causing global warming. Professor Edward Acton, the university’s vice-chancellor, published a statement he sent to the committee before giving evidence to MPs at a public hearing on Monday. He said a letter from the ICO “indicated that no breach of the law has been established [and] that the evidence the ICO had in mind about whether there was a breach was no more than prima facie”.
But the ICO’s letter said: “The prima facie evidence from the published e-mails indicate an attempt to defeat disclosure by deleting information. It is hard to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence.”