The Reviews into the University of East Anglia's Climatic research Unit's E-mails - Science and Technology Committee Contents


Supplementary memorandum submitted by David Holland (UEA Reviews 01a)

DELIBERATE ACTIONS BY UEA TO AVOID RELEASING INFORMATION SUBJECT TO FOIA REQUEST

  On reviewing my earlier memoranda I realise that I failed to focus sufficiently upon the single most compelling reason that you should reject the Report of Sir Muir Russell and the recent memorandum from the University of East Anglia submitted by Professor Acton as blatant works of fiction.

Sir Muir's Report states in paragraph 28 on page 92,

    "There seems clear incitement to delete emails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made."

  This finding is utterly perverse.

  The Report then shows the infamous email Jones sent to Mann asking him to delete precisely the information I had specified just two days earlier. I must stress that what I was asking for was procedural information relating to the IPCC Fourth Assessment and nothing whatever to do with UEA surface temperature record which the Russell Review and UEA keep returning to. Also bear in mind that my request was, at the time it was being dealt with, the only one that had been made to the Climatic Research Unit at UEA during 2008. Also it was made more than a year before the FOIA request deluge that is alleged by some to have provoked the scientists to misbehave.

  Jones clearly indicated to Mann that data would be deleted at UEA and Mann's reply makes no suggestion that he might not comply in the USA. The email went beyond incitement.

  In the interview on 13 February 2010, reported by Roger Harrabin at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8511670.stm, Jones made it clear that his infamous email was a direct consequence of my 27 May 2008 request. Harrabin asked,

    "Why did you ask a colleague to delete all e-mails relating to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC?"

  Jones replied,

    "This was an e-mail sent out of frustration at one FOI request that was asking for the e-mail correspondence between the lead authors on chapter six of the Working Group One Report of the IPCC. This is one of the issues which the Independent Review will look at."

  The same email correspondence was covered by my formal request to UEA of 5 May 2008 and by my original email to Professor Briffa on 21 March 2008. The evidence I presented to Sir Muir's Review and your predecessor Committee is that the scientists directly involved in the writing of the IPCC Working Group One assessment of the science of climate change were advised by their Co-chairperson, in March 2008, not to make any new disclosures at all. So far almost nothing new has been disclosed without it being leaked or my having to appeal refusals and engage the Information Commissioner's Office. This is despite clear prior FOIA rulings that everything requested should have been disclosed.

  I note that, in his most recent submission to you, Professor Acton is now trying to imply that no information was deleted as a result of FOIA requests but simply routinely deleted prior to the requests. He states:

    We have established that the potential email deletion which gave rise to the ICO's concern did not take place, and the University has received undertakings from the CRU staff most notably involved in the emails that they will fully comply with the letter and spirit of Freedom of Information requests. Extracts from statements they have made on this subject are provided in appendix F.

  This is utter nonsense and the Report of Sir Muir Russell provides no evidence to support his claim. Nor are these statements signed or published at the Review Website. On the other hand, what is reported to have been said to Sir Muir on 18 December 2009, suggests very strongly that Professor Briffa expected information that was subject to FOI requests might well be deleted. UEA's Director of Information Services Colam-French is reported as having stated:

    For example Keith Briffa took home emails that were subject to FOI to ensure their safekeeping.

  This report of Sir Muir's meeting with IT staff and Colam was not properly indexed at the Russell Review website until long after the Review report was published and includes other evidence that information may well have been taken off-site and deleted from the CRU computers.

  Information that I requested was deleted according to a letter sent to me by UEA and available to the public at http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/spreadsheet_of_review_comments_f

  The leaked UEA emails had revealed that information I had requested was held in a spreadsheet that had been attached to one of them sent by Jonathan Overpeck from the USA. In a response refusing to disclose an FOIA request to UEA that I had made on 28 November 2009 for this spreadsheet, UEA replied:

    We believe that Regulation 12(4)(a) applies to your request because the only location that this information was held on was on a backup server as the original information had been `deleted' some years ago.

  On 21 March 2010 I asked Overpeck for a copy. I sent copies of my email request to Susan Solomon, Renate Christ, Rajendra Pachauri and my MP, Tim Boswell. I received no reply. A few days later the Information Commissioner's Office phoned me to advise that Professor Briffa had found a copy of the spreadsheet on a memory stick. On 26 March 2010 UEA disclosed the spreadsheet.

  We are not told when Briffa first started preserving information that was subject to FOIA requests, if he has more, or when any of the information which I requested was actually deleted. The implication from UEA that information I requested was already deleted makes no sense.

  Why would UEA have gone to the trouble of invoking the Ministerial veto of FOIA section 36 to refuse disclosure if it no longer held the information I requested? Several of the leaked UEA emails and others disclosed to me under the DPA and other FOIA requests show that after I first requested the information considerable discussion took place on how to use the FOIA to avoid disclosure.

  On 15 July 2008 Sir Brian Hoskins at the University of Reading told his Information Officer to contact UEA who were collaborating with the Met Office to "resist" my requests. Why would UEA be "resisting" requests for information that had been lawfully deleted before it had been asked for? It only had to state "the information is not held". At any time Briffa could have said the information had been deleted.

  We are also asked to believe that UEA carried out a careful review of its refusal to disclose information to me, as is required by the FOIA section 45 code of practice, but never found out that the information was already deleted. Clearly to review a decision to refuse disclosure other than on the grounds of it not being held the information the information must be physically seen.

  UEA's claim is nonsense and you should be aware that the Information Commissioner's Office conducted a far more thorough and independent investigation of my information request. In his Decision Notice Decision Notice FER0238017, issued shortly before Sir Muir Russell's ICCER report on 7 July 2010, there is no report that UEA ever claimed to the ICO that the information I requested was deleted prior to me asking for it.

  Despite the reprimand of your predecessor Committee, the Commissioner himself signed the Decision Notice after adding a rider to the effect that he remained satisfied that prima facie evidence existed of an offence which was not investigated only because it was time barred.

  Thus no rational person, regardless of their views on the science of climate change, can doubt that information on the assessment of climate change, which was lawfully requested under our freedom of information laws, was deleted blocked or concealed from Information Officers to prevent it becoming public. The documentary evidence of this is easily available on the Internet and fully understood by many thousands of people worldwide.

  The rigour or honesty of all who deny what happened will remain in doubt.

David Holland





 
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