House of Lords c/o University of East Anglia

In response to requests for mundane information such as the terms of reference of the Oxburgh Inquiry, Oxburgh pretty much laid down a gauntlet for an FOI inquiry, asserting that no relevant documents existed.

I am afraid that I am not able to be very helpful as none of the documents about which you inquire exists…

The only written record, apart from any notes that individuals may have kept privately but of which I am unaware, is our final report that was agreed unanimously. Similarly the terms of reference were given to me verbally and are encapsulated in the introductory paragraphs of our report.”

Needless to say, I submitted an FOI request to the House of Lords, being informed today that they had no documents.

Dear Mr McIntyre

Thank you for your request to the House of Lords administration on 3 June 2010. You asked for information under the Environmental Information Regulations on the following:

“1. Any documents containing information on (a) the terms of reference of the Oxburgh inquiry at the University of East Anglia; (b) the selection of the eleven papers; (c) the solicitation and appointment of panelists. Such documents may include emails to or from Lord Oxburgh and the (a) University of East Anglia and/or its officers and employees; (b) the Royal Society and/or its employees; (c) members of the Oxburgh panel, including Kerry Emanuel, David Hand, Huw Davies, Herbert Huppert, Lisa Graumlich and/or Michael Kelly.

2. Any documents containing information on interviews of CRU employees by the Oxburgh panel, including any emails, notes, memoranda or transcripts, including, without limitation, any emails to or from Lord Oxburgh and the parties referred to request (1) above.”

The House of Lords administration does not hold this information.

You have made your request to the House of Lords administration. The House is cited as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, and in the Environmental Information Regulations. However, the provisions of the Act and the Regulations only apply to recorded information held by the House of Lords administration. For the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, members are regarded as separate entities from the “House of Lords”. Accordingly members of the House of Lords are not themselves public authorities under the Act or Regulations. The provisions of the Act and Regulations will therefore not apply to information held only by an individual member e.g. their private correspondence or to correspondence they may have received.

I trust that the above explains why the administration does not hold the information you have requested.
[brassplate]
Yours Sincerely
Katharine Stevenson
House of Lords

The reason why the House of Lords doesn’t have any relevant documents may well be explained by the peculiar letterhead on Oxburgh’s letter to Kerry Emanuel, shown below:

The University of East Anglia previously turned down Andrew Montford’s FOI request from the University to Oxburgh – Montford having no reason to suspect that Oxburgh was using House of Lords letterhead with a UEA email address.

“Independent” inquiries – British-style.

PS- to clarify the House of Lords answer, they’re also saying that correspondence by individual members is not subject to FOI – since the members (as distinct from the House of Lords as an institution) are not “public authorities” subject to FOI. However, the University of East Anglia is a “public authority” subject to FOI and their excuses in their stonewalling of Andrew Montford are not necessarily going to stand up on appeal.


24 Comments

  1. Mac
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It is against parliamentary rules to use parliamentary stationery for other than official business. Also the designs and symbols of parliament must not be used for purposes to which such authentication is inappropriate, or where there is a risk that their use might wrongly be regarded, or represented, as having the authority of parliament.

    Lord Oxburgh should have used stationery in his capacity as a private individual or as a representaive of the University of East Anglia.

    After the expenses scandal parliamentary authorities take a very dim view of breaches of standards by members of both houses. The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards may well take Lord Oxburgh to task on this matter.

  2. Nick
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    are you going to report Oxburg?

  3. bender
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 10:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

    But hey … the inquiries are no more non-independent than the climate reconstructions. C’mon, Steve, get out your Oxburgh dictionary of statistical climatology. Look up “independent”.

    • Eric
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

      OMG -bender! Where have you been? I’ve missed your voice & your insight.

  4. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Before anyone thinks about reporting Lord O, read this - the story is stranger than you think.

  5. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SECOND REPORT OF SESSION 2009-10 FROM THE HOUSE COMMITTEE

    RULES GOVERNING THE USE OF FACILITIES

    House of Lords logo

    12. Save for the provision set out in the guidance on the use of House of Lords headed paper and envelopes, the House of Lords logo should be used by Members for purposes relating to the discharge of their Parliamentary duties only, and for no other purpose. Members should take care in ensuring that the House of Lords logo is not used in such a way that might bring discredit upon the House.

  6. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The use of the logo in this instance actually breaches the UK’s Trade Marks Act 1994

    http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1994/ukpga_19940026_en_

    Unauthorised use of Royal arms, &c
    (1) A person shall not without the authority of Her Majesty use in connection with any business the Royal arms (or arms so closely resembling the Royal arms as to be calculated to deceive) in such manner as to be calculated to lead to the belief that he is duly authorised to use the Royal arms.

    The House of Lords Logo is actually the Royal Arms and that is the reason that the SECOND REPORT OF SESSION 2009-10 FROM THE HOUSE COMMITTEE posted the comment in the RULES GOVERNING THE USE OF FACILITIES

    House of Lords logo

    12. Save for the provision set out in the guidance on the use of House of Lords headed paper and envelopes, the House of Lords logo should be used by Members for purposes relating to the discharge of their Parliamentary duties only, and for no other purpose. Members should take care in ensuring that the House of Lords logo is not used in such a way that might bring discredit upon the House.

    If you wish to complain then you can send an email to

    standardscommissioner@parliament.uk

  7. EdeF
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe this was meant to be the House of Lords pub out near Chiddingstone.

  8. Martin A
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m confused. Was this logo on the letter that did not exist or was it on the letter that Emanuel refused to pass on?

  9. bender
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That letterhead looks kinda like a fax coversheet rendition to me, not a cheap fabrication.

  10. Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bender

    If it’s a real HoL logo then he is using it for non-HoL business, which he’s not allowed to do. Also the typography underneath is wrong.

  11. Sebastian Weetabix
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Correspondence between members of the Houses of Parliament & constituents etc. is not covered by the FOIA for the simple reason that people should be able to have such correspondence on a confidential basis – so you are probably barking up the wrong tree with that FOI request.

    Steve - did you read the postscript to my post?

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 6:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, I just thought I would attempt to add a little context! It wasn’t intended as a criticism.

  12. David Holland
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 3:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Regulation 3(2) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 states:

    (2) For the purposes of these Regulations, environmental information is held by a public authority if the information -
    (a) is in the authority’s possession and has been produced or received by the authority;
    or
    (b) is held by another person on behalf of the authority.

    Oxburgh set up meetings to discuss climate change matters and if he did it using HoL facilities it should be disclosed. Ask for a Regulation 11 reconsideration.

  13. ZT
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You may recognize the source of Lord Ronnie’s title in your spam folder:

    ‘Is the lack of a peerage holding you back? A peerage of your very own commands respect and guarantees influence. You will even receive an impressive coat of arms to use in all your correspondence. Yours for the trifling sum of only $100 or $200 (hereditary). Credentials suitable for the coming BP inquiry (inquisitor or defendant), by arrangement.’

  14. jorgekafkazar
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 5:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps “House of Lords” refers to UEA/CRU, a result of the frequent taking therein of the deity’s name in vain by “Harry,” the unfortunate asked to fix the CRU data waterboarding program.

  15. Tim G
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I really have a hard time caring about any of this. If the science is wrong it is wrong. If it isn’t then it isn’t. All of this other stuff is just a distraction. Worse, filing all of these FOIA requests is going to turn it into a DOS style attack — which was their justification for not responding in the first place. So ther you go, making their case for them. And spend your time on everything but the science.

    –t

    • bender
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Question: How do you “spend your time on the science” when you ask for the data and they won’t give it to you? Thanks for playing.

    • ZT
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I guess some see ‘science’ as somewhat distinct from truth or honesty. It is a slippery slope from there to climatology and phrenology (with all due respect to phrenologists).

      • ZT
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Actually – there are quite a few good climatologists – that was an attempt at humor…

  16. justbeau
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 8:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Does Ms. Lisa Williams have a secret second life masquerading as Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool?

  17. P Solar
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Lisa Williams is head of faculty at the UEA school of medicine. It’s hard to see how she is related to the good Lord and why she handles his email. This is more evidence that he is far from “independant” from his ex-employer and has not been out of touch for 18 years.

    The fact that HOL replied to the FIO request saying it was nothing to do with the House as a body, seems like a rock solid piece of evidence that the Lord in question is in breach or regulations in using the letter head in this way.

    I don’t know how serious that offense is but I would think it worth a formal complaint.

    It does seem like a pretty clear case of the deceitful misrepresentation that is specifically banned.

    [OT]
    http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/meeting2010.html
    The Conference will deal mainly with Financial Reform, Security, Cyber Technology, Energy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, World Food Problem, Global Cooling, Social Networking, Medical Science, EU-US relations.
    I suspect Her Majesty would not be amused.

    I’m not sure how that should be interpreted but I thought it interesting.

  18. P Solar
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    oops, Her Majesty got displaced. That phrase related to the post not the OT.

  19. nickleaton
    Posted Feb 24, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Not surprised. I have had state secrecy certificates back from the Lords to cover up their expenses.

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