Trevor Davies at the Guardian Panel

Sitting on the dais at the Guardian panel, it seemed to me that the most remarkable moment came when the audience laughed out loud at Trevor Davies about Muir Russell. Usually, you can’t hear this sort of thing from an audience, but you could hear it loud and clear at 1:29:12. The Guardian laundered this episode in their account, but it sure seemed like Davies totally lost the audience at this point.

In my talk, I reported Muir Russell’s failure to attend either of the evidence-taking interviews with Phil Jones following the unveiling of the Muir Russell panel (on Feb 11, 2010), a point previously reported at CA here, as follows:

Muir Russell was due to report in spring 2010, but as of the start of April, nobody at CRU had been interviewed on anything to do with the Hockey Stick or IPCC. In fact, Muir Russell does not appear to have even met with Jones or Briffa after the unveiling of the Muir Russell panel in February. Muir Russell didn’t even bother attending the one and only interview with Jones and Briffa on the Hockey Stick and IPCC on April 9. Nor did two other panellists.

Thus, Muir Russell’s non-attendance at the Jones’ interviews was an issue that I’d prominently raised at CA immediately prior to the Guardian debate and you’d think that Trevor Davies, representing the university and the inquiries, would have at least taken a look at Climate Audit given that I was attending and anticipated this issue being raised.

However, the issue, when raised by Sunday Times reporter Jonathan Leake, caused Davies to implode. Here’s an approximate transcript leading up to the Davies’ incident. It started with a question from Jonathan Leake of the Sunday Times, who, oddly enough, Monbiot recognized only as a “gentleman from the front”. Leake (approximate transcript):

Steve, in your presentation, you seemed to say that Phil Jones wasn’t interviewed by Muir Russell at all in person. He was interviewed by some other members of the panel. If that is true, who did? And it seems astonishing that the chairman of the inquiry did not interview .. if that is true, perhaps Trevor Davies can tell us who did… it seems remarkable.

Leading to the following exchange:

McIntyre – I’m going from the minutes of the report. In December, Muir Russell arrived; they had 8 meetings that day, one of which was between Muir Russell and Phil Jones, accompanied by Trevor Davies, at which I presume that no evidence was taken. In January, there was an exploratory meeting. The panel announced on Feb 11, there were two meetings with Phil Jones after that – one on March 4, as I recall, between Norton and Clarke covering CRUTEM series. And other one on April 9 with Boulton and Clarke again, covering the Hockey Stick issues and IPCC. Muir Russell didn’t attend either of the two meetings with Phil Jones after the unveiling of the panel, and which were the only two meetings at which any evidence was taken… Yes, it bewilders me that a responsible chairman of an inquiry did not attend the only material interviews with the people involved in the whole affair. Muir Russell did however have extensive meetings with administrative staff

Monbiot: Trevor, does that chime…

Davies- My memory for these details is not as good as Steve’s. He has confirmed that Muir Russell did indeed interview Phil Jones and in my list, he interviewed Phil Jones. And this info is in the back of Muir Russell report.

McIntyre – Not after the panel was announced and not where any evidence was taken.

Monbiot (speaking to Davies) – can you contradict that?

Long pause –

McIntyre – he can’t contradict that.

Monbiot – just a minute Steve

Davies – Steve will have to remind me when the panel was actually announced…

Uproarious laughter and applause.

McIntyre – Feb 11, Trevor

Davies – yes…

Long pause….

Davies – Steve appears to be…

McIntyre – it’s on page 92 or so…

Davies: there were interviews between Muir Russell, the chairman, and Phil Jones. Later on those interviews were done by the specialists.

Monbiot – when did those interviews take place between Muir Russell and Phil Jones?

Davies – the last one that I can see is on January 27.

Another not-so-good moment for the defenders of the Team that can’t shoot straight.

After the panel, the Guardian held a very pleasant reception at a nearby bar. I walked over with Davies, observing that it couldn’t have been much fun for him the last number of months. He took some offence at the Climate Audit had described him as “ever-present” [in the UEA's post-Climategate dealing with the public]. I laughed (I think) cheerfully at this criticism, observing that, in his shoes, I’d have tried to be “ever-present” as well and thus this was hardly a criticism.

I thought about this point when I got home. “Ever-present” is not a word that I use a lot. In fact, I’d only used the adjective once in connection with Trevor Davies.

Here

This, ironically, is the very post in which I itemized Muir Russell’s non-attendance at the Jones’ interview in meticulous detail. Davies presumably had to have read the post in order to object to being described as “ever-present”, but apparently hadn’t notice of the post’s actual content – Muir Russell’s non-attendance.

At the reception, Davies challenged me in front of a reporter to withdraw some supposedly inaccurate statements at Climate Audit about the Oxburgh inquiry terms of reference. The reporter seemed to want me to make the changes on the spot at the reception. I said that I would look at the matter when I got home and that I would be more than willing to correct any inaccuracies. They sent me a copy of a statement that they released after Roger Harrabin’s story on the matter, but, thus far, have not responded to two requests to identify what, if anything, at CA requires correction. More on this on another occasion.

23 Comments

  1. Stirling English
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    In my part of the audience, there had been laughter (and disbelief) almost every time Davies opened his mouth after his opening statement. His mouthing of platitudes without substance had been going on throughout.

    By the end I almost felt sorry for him…he was so patently floundering and out of his depth. And when the incident Steve describes took place, I was reminded forcibly of Ceauecescu’s famous speech where he mistook derision from the crowd for applause. Until the dreadful realisation came that the game was up and he had no option but to flee.

    Poor Trevor.

  2. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    Steve, your comment that “Muir Russell did however have extensive meetings with administrative staff” was the killer moment for me. Did you say it with a dead-pan expression?

    I guess that sentence neatly summarises Muir Russell, the bureaucrat of the Scottish parliament fiasco.

  3. Stirling English
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    I’d also note that according to his biography, Prof. Davie sis a prodigious author. He has produced over 270 publications in his 40 year career at UEA.

    My arithmetic tells me that he has averaged one publication every 57 days. Not a bad rate when he has all his admin, PR and teaching duties to perform. And external dirctorships and representation on various public and scientific bodies. Plus conferences, sickness and vacation.

    I wish I had his energy and commitment to be able to study so many subjects and keep all the details at the forefront of my mind.

  4. Barry Woods
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

    It crossed my mind today, that the Guardian and George Monbiot may have been surprised by the make up of the audience, largely evenly split with a lot of journalists?

    I know, I was half expecting a very pro AGW make up with a lot of obvious activists present, etc..

    With Steve Mcinytyre, Doug Keenan being given a very hard time by activists questions.. There was really, only one such question, with George gave more than a little bit of time too, untill the audience forced him to move on.. ie other quuestioners were not allowed so many responses and repetition of the same question.

    After all it was a Guardian debate, had been advertised in the Guardian, and the online article sort of buried away a bit, after a few days in the Guardian environment section,.

    I had to dig around a bit to find it, to purchase my ticket..

    George Monbiot (the chair) has been strangely quiet, directly reporting about the debate it in his blog..

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/georgemonbiot

    Links, but no comment by him yet.

    It was a good largely a good natured debate, with some interesting outcomes, not lease Trevor Davis on the interviews..

    This was the last question from the audience I think, George had said the gentleman in the blue shirt, at the front.

    I started to ask:

    “A question for Fred Pearce, has the culture in climate science changed, or is it business as ususual…”

    I was going to cite Judith Curry’s (who Fred had mentioned positively as trying to bring both sides together) recent experience at Collide a Scape – challenging some RealClimate regulars to read AJ Montford’s ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ and being met with many and varied reason NOT to read it.

    But George cut me off, saying the other gentleman in the blue shirt…

    Turned out to be the tImes correspondent, with a very interesting result from his question…

    I’m sure Trevor Davis would have prefered mine…

    Steve: I, like many others, thought that Monbiot did an excellent job as moderator.

  5. Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

    Barry, I was sitting a couple of rows behind you and heard the exchange – yes, George Monbiot was rather insistent, wasn’t he, that it was Jonathan Leake who got to ask his question.

    It’s interesting that out of all those present, at least three of the questioners picked out were journalists – Jonathan Leake, Roger Harrabin and Fiona Fox – and you have to wonder if the selection was quite as random as George made it appear. Or maybe it was because there just happened to be lots of journalists present.

    I think a show of hands would have been enlightening, at the beginning and end, perhaps, to find out roughly which side of the fence we were all on. But I would agree that the split between AGW sceptics and non-sceptics seemed about even.

    I was impressed by the courtesy with which the panel dealt with one another; you especially, Steve, came across very well in that regard, I think but it was a civilised affair overall.

  6. Tony Hansen
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    So we have ‘Ever-present’ Davies, ‘Seldom-if-ever-present’ Russell and ‘Omnipresent’ Boulton trying to make sure that everything looked presentable.
    Largely by making sure that those with genuine concerns were ‘Not-allowed-to-be-present’.
    Was consistently honourable behaviour ‘never-present’?

  7. RiHo08
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    Did I mis-hear? Did anyone else hear Trevor Davis say that one of the goals of the investigations was “Reputation preservation?” That is, the preservation of the reputations of Phil Jones, the Climate Research Unit, and the University of East Angla. Isn’t reputation preservation what the investigations both in Great Britian and at Penn State were all about? What a great distraction from the real issues that need elucidation, debate, and public awareness. Defensiveness, minds closed to the possiblity that models are tools for qualitative data and not objective data; energy expended to attack non-consensus scientistis; willingness to accept and work within a large measure of uncertainty, make gridlock a certainty and effective action unlikely. This sideshow becomes the public focus, this is the “travesty”, not where did the heat go.

  8. xysmith
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

    snip – it is an editorial policy of this blog that there is no point trying to debate the “big picture” in a few sentences on every thread.

    • xysmith
      Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

      I wasn’t attempting to debate the “big picture” as much as I was wondering who it was that made such a nonsense statement and laying out the reasons I felt it was nonsense. But it’s your blog, enjoy.

  9. Roddy Campbell
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    I’m afraid it was me who laughed first, loudest, and applauded when TD asked when the Panel was formed. An angry gentleman behind said to me ‘Why should he know? It was an independent enquiry.’ Which I found even funnier I’m afraid, showing slight lack of grasp of TD’s role both at UAE and on the Guardian panel.

    Steve, I was the guy who randomly shook your hand in the lobby when you arrived and were looking for your Guardian hosts.

    Finished Pearce’s book yesterday. Excellent I thought. He does have temporal perspective. And a sub-thriller style – ‘it was a grey day when a nervous Phil Jones approached the House of Commons committee room’ sort of thing – which I like.

    • Dominic
      Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 4:24 AM | Permalink

      Gosh. You must have been sitting beside me! I was tempted to turn to the chap behind and ask him why independence should imply ignorance but didn’t as the look on TD’s face was too priceless to miss!

  10. Stacey
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 4:53 AM | Permalink

    At the end a bit barbaric I know, I shouted read the emails to which Bob Watson muttered something along the lines of yes yes of course I will read the emails?

  11. Barry Woods
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

    I do agree! George Monbiot was a Very good Chair

  12. Barry Woods
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    The second bigest laugh was when, Bob Watson said that he had only

    ‘read a few emails’

    with someone calling out from the audience

    ‘Do you always forget to do your homework’

    Can you hear that audience reaction on the audio (haven’t had a chance to listen yet)

    I was NOT criticising George Monbiot, for chosen the Times journalist over my question, not least because George pursued Trevor Davis, about whether he could contradict Steve’s time line of interviews.. Trevor could not! So a very interesting answer… (we both had blue shirts)

    I just thought it funny, that Trevor might have prefered mine,as the last question, because with the Times final question it ended quite badly for UEA.. I got to ask Fred Pearce my question anyway, afterwards at the book signing.

    Is it possible that a couple of the panelists were expecting a much more pro/partisan debate, and felt that they had to do minimal prepartion and just wing it..

    ie how can Bob NOT have read the emails!!!!
    Or review a selection of them (10,000 emails sent, one saying, I’m going to murder my neighbour, a %review would clear me, of any misdeed, if my neighbour went missing!)

  13. dearieme
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 7:31 AM | Permalink

    For years I have wanted someone, somewhere in the world, to declare a Great War on Trevor. This Trevor will do.

  14. labrador
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

    So who was it that was wearing the “hockey stick” shirt?

  15. Sean
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    Speaking of Trevor Davies, have a look at the New York Times editorial page today:

    “Goldman did not admit or deny the allegations, but it did acknowledge it made a “mistake” by not disclosing to investors that a hedge fund participated in selecting the securities in question, while intending to bet they would default. Goldman also said that its marketing materials were “incomplete,” that it “regrets” the oversight and that it won’t make the same mistake again.”

    So, Goldman told investors that Goldman selected the papers … I mean the securities … but actually, behind the scenes, they got help from a guy who had an undisclosed interest in picking only certain securities and leaving other ones out.

    For this they paid $550 million.

    • kim
      Posted Jul 22, 2010 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

      Well, of course; the paltriness of the fine is because Goldman’s actions were in the service of a matter of much less moment than Climate.
      ================

  16. toad
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Barry Woods. ‘George Monbiot was a very good chair’. Why are you so charitable ? Had you said the ‘debate’ was brilliantly stage-managed by Monbiot, I would have concurred. However, let us consider the ‘panel’ from right to left. Keenan was totally predictable, he repeated the accusations he’s voiced many times over. Watson could be relied on to waffle about 99% of cats prefering whatever.
    Steve was, as we anticipated, brilliant, but he was there to do the job that was expected of him, which was totally to demolish the argument of the man from the CRU. This leaves Monbiot himself, poor Trevor Davies who must have wondered what had hit him, and of course Fred, who was hardly likely to make life difficult for George.
    Piers Corbyn provided just that little bit of audience revolt which allowed George to do his ‘I’m in charge bit’. The mix of questions was exactly what George was looking for, I wonder how he managed that ?
    Result, ‘Man from CRU’ leaves with ‘flea in ear’,which was exactly the point of the exercise.

  17. toad
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    Last Wednesday evening was one none of us will ever forget. Whether it was the last nail in the CRU’s coffin remains to be seen. More people are even angrier than ever after the latest revelations. For me the highlight of the evening was when the first questioner was selected. A young woman right in front of me stood up and said ” My name’s Julia, and I was at Copenhagen”. I think that said it all !

  18. Dung
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

    I also got Steve’s signature in the front of my HSI and I am really proud of that (second in the queue hehe)

  19. Dung
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    George Carlin was wonderful :)

  20. Theo Goodwin
    Posted Jul 22, 2010 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    Load writes:
    “A young woman right in front of me stood up and said ” My name’s Julia, and I was at Copenhagen”. I think that said it all !”

    To an American sitting at home, all the women sounded like the same young woman, except for Fiona, of course. I have taken the train from London to “Tattoo” during Edinburgh’s street festival, and I believe all those young women were on that train. Quite a multicultural mix, or so they appeared.

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