On March 31, 2008, David Holland sent a letter to Keith Briffa asking about several IPCC issues. In correspondence released from the Hadley Center, Briffa indicated his intention of being unresponsive. On May 15, Briffa sent an unresponsive reply to Holland, following which Holland initiated a FOI request on May 27, 2008 leading to an acknowledgement on June 3 and Refusal Notice on June 20. This one has additional interest in that Holland asked for copies of expert comments on IPCC chapter 6 sent directly by Caspar Ammann to Keith Briffa, sent outside the formal review process. Both Briffa and Ammann refused to release these comments. For some reason, Ammann seems to think that he is not subject to IPCC requirements that expert comments be open and that he is entitled to make secret comments.
May 27 FOI Request
David Palmer, Information Policy Officer
Information Services Directorate
University of East Anglia
Dear Mr Palmer,
Your Ref: FOI_08-23 IPCC, 2007 WGI Chapter 6 Assessment Process
Thank you for your letter of 19th May 2008. My request remains on the basis of either the FOIA or the EIR and it is not immediately obvious to me how one decides which might apply in advance.
I have now read Dr Briffa’s letter of 15th May in answer to mine of 31st March for which I have thanked him. As he indicates that he will refer further enquiries to you. I must advise you that I do not feel it answers any of my questions satisfactorily apart from the last and continue to seek any and all documents held by CRU relating to Dr Briffa’s participation in the IPCC, 2007 assessment reports.
In addition to the questions I put to Dr Briffa, and without limiting my request for all information relating to the IPCC assessment process not already in the public domain, I will specify further particular areas for which I am seeking information.
1. The IPCC stated on July 1, 2006:
“We are very grateful to the many reviewers of the second draft of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report for suggestions received on issues of balance and citation of additional scientific literature.”
Did the IPCC receive any such “suggestions” in a written form other than those reported in the documents for each chapter entitled “IPCC Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report: Expert and Government Review Comments on the Second-Order Draft”2? If so, please provide them.
2. The IPCC also stated on July 1, 2006:
“Reviewers are invited to submit copies of additional papers that are either in-press or published in 2006, along with the chapter and section number to which this material could pertain, via email to ipcc-wg1 AT al.noaa.gov, not later than July 24, 2006. In the case of in-press papers a copy of the final acceptance letter from the journal is requested for our records. All submissions must be received by the TSU not later than July 24, 2006 and incomplete submissions can not be accepted.”
Please provide a copy of all such responses.
Any such responses described in 1 and 2 above are clearly “written expert and government review comments” as defined in “Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports” in the Principles Governing IPCC Work.
3. Please also supply any emails or other documents from IPCC contributing author Caspar Ammann or the Journal Climatic Change that discuss any matters in relation to the IPCC assessment process.
June 3, 2008 Acknowledgement
Dear Mr Holland,
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST
(Our Ref: FOI_08-31)
I acknowledge your request for information received on 27 May 2008. Your request is being considered and you will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party. I recognise that this query is pursuant to another ongoing request but the nature of this request and the inquiries require to meet it are such that it would be more efficient and effective to deal with them as two separate requests.
June 20 Refusal Notice
Dear Mr Holland,
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST (Our Ref: FOI_08-31)
Your request for information received on 27 May 2008 has now been considered and it is, unfortunately, not possible to meet your request.
In accordance with s.17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice, and I am not obliged to supply this information and the reasons for exemption are as stated below:
s.1(1)(a) Right to be informed if information held” : Information not held
s.41, Information provided in confidence: Release of the information could result in an actionable breach of confidence
We are unable to provide the information requested in sections (1) and (2) as we simply do not have the requested information. After consultation with colleagues, I would suggest that you contact the IPCC directly for this information.
In regards the correspondence from Mr. Ammann, s.41 is applicable as we have consistently treated this information as confidential and have been assured by Mr. Ammann that he believes it to be confidential and would expect it to be treated as such. The public interest in withholding this information outweighs that of releasing it due to the need to protect the openness and confidentiality of academic intercourse prior to publication which, in turn, assures that such cooperation & openness can continue and inform scientific research and debate.
I apologise that your request will not be met but if you have any further information needs in the future then please contact me.
If you have any queries or concerns, or, if you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request please contact me at: …
As noted previously, IPCC policies state:
All written expert, and government review comments will be made available to reviewers on request during the review process and will be retained in an open archive in a location determined by the IPCC Secretariat on completion of the Report for a period of at least five years.
And yet here we have the spectacle of Caspar Ammann, sending expert comments to IPCC author Keith Briffa, stating that he “believes” his expert comments to an IPCC author to have been sent in “confidence”. What a crock.