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

Written Evidence Submitted by Andrew Montford (UEA Reviews 09)

  Your committee recently heard evidence from Lords Oxburgh and Russell and the Professors Acton and Davies. As you consider your next steps I would like to draw together in summary form some of the key features of the inquiries, which I hope you will find useful. In their evidence, several of the witnesses made highly controversial statements and I would also like to clarify some of what was said.


  As a result of the inquiries and the subsequent evidence sessions before the committee, many facts are now clear and apparently undisputed. In summary these are as follows:

  1.  The Oxburgh panel did not investigate the science, but only looked for evidence of dishonesty. We do not know if CRU science is a reliable basis for public policy.

  2.  Oxburgh told the committee that Acton's claim that the science would be investigated was "inaccurate".

  3.  Oxburgh reported that the Royal Society chose the papers for his panel to examine. This was incorrect and the list was chosen by UEA itself.

  4.  Oxburgh said the papers sent to the panel were chosen on the advice of the Royal Society. In fact the list was sent to panel members before any such approval had been received.

  5.  The Oxburgh panel did not look at CRU's controversial work on the IPCC reports. Because of this, many of the most serious allegations were not examined.

  6.  Oxburgh did not look at Keenan's fraud allegation, although the relevant paper was on the list his team was to examine. Oxburgh seemed not to have heard of Keenan.

  7.  None of the key CRU critics were interviewed by Oxburgh or Russell.

  8.  Neither of the panels gave CRU critics the opportunity to challenge evidence from CRU or others.

  9.  Russell did not investigate the most serious allegations—those relating to deletion of emails.


  While CRU purport to dispute some of the key allegations made against them, on closer examination there is little or nothing to support the case they are making. I list below three key examples.

  1.  The list of papers for Oxburgh did not included any of the key multiproxy temperature reconstructions. In his evidence, Professor Davies said that he disputed this, but this claim can be shown to be false. CRU has produced three multiproxy temperature reconstructions—Jones et al 1998, Mann and Jones 2003, and Osborn and Briffa 2006. None were on the list of papers for the Oxburgh panel and Professor Davies offered no evidence to support a claim that they were.

  2.  McKitrick's allegation of fabrication against Jones was disputed by Russell on the grounds that the IPCC authors had other reasons why they felt McKitrick's paper was wrong. Russell presented no evidence that Jones original claim—that McKitrick's results were statistically insignificant—was supported in the peer-reviewed literature. McKitrick's claim that Jones fabricated this statement therefore stands unrebutted.

  3.  Russell claimed to have examined Keenan's fraud allegation, but failed to mention or dispute the evidence central to Keenan's case—the Yan et al. paper that showed that the source documents behind Jones' findings did not exist.


  Several of the key allegations have not apparently been investigated at all.

  1.  It appears that Russell did not ascertain if CRU staff actually contacted any of the journals they discussed threatening, and if so what they said to them.

  2.  Russell was told that Briffa took home emails for safekeeping. Acton told the committee that this was probably because Briffa was unwell, although this contradicts the statement that his reason was "safekeeping". No further investigation appears to have been made.

  3.  Questions of cherrypicking of data and the use of ad-hoc adjustments to data appear to have gone largely uninvestigated.

  There can be little doubt that neither the Oxburgh or the Russell panels performed their tasks in an even-handed and thorough way. Some of the most fundamental questions arising out of the East Anglia emails have yet to be addressed—an extraordinary state of affairs after so much time has passed. I believe it is vital that your committee now state plainly that the University of East Anglia has failed to properly investigate the allegations arising out of the emails, and either launch your own investigation or call upon the government to set up a formal public inquiry.

Andrew Montford

22 November 2010

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