UEA “Welcomes” Untrue Muir Russell Finding

Shortly after the release of the Muir Russell report, I criticized their wrongheaded and untrue finding that there had not been an outstanding FOI request at the time of the notorious Jones’ request to delete all emails seeking information on IPCC correspondence that, in Fred Pearce’s words, was a ‘subversion” of IPCC policy on openness and transparency. See here for a review showing the falseness of their “finding”.

In a statement on Sept 2, 2010, UEA takes satisfaction in being cleared, despite the manifest falseness of the finding since David Holland’s FOI 08-31 prompted the delete email.

10.7 A number of emails appeared to incite deletion or evidence deletion of other emails, although there was no evidence of emails being deleted that were the subject of a request for disclosure. We accept this shows insufficient awareness of and focus on obligations under the FoIA/EIR, but we welcome the finding that there was no attempt to delete information with respect to a request already made. This confirms assurances already given to the Vice-Chancellor by colleagues in CRU that they had not deleted material which was the subject of a request. We have underlined that such action would have been one of the key elements necessary to constitute an offence under Section 77 of the FoIA and Section 19 of the EIR, the others being that information had actually been deleted, that it was deleted with the intention to avoid disclosure and that it was disclosable and not exempt information. Professor Jones has commented that, while emails are cleared out from time to time, this is to keep accounts manageable and within the allocated storage. (92, 28)

While Muir Russell had no excuse for their untrue finding (given the references to FOI in the subject line of the email), amazingly, the University left critical FOI request 08-31 out of its list of FOI requests tabled with the Muir Russell inquiry. See here for the UEA submission listing all FOI requests. David Holland’s FOI request 08-31 is missing from the list.

I noticed this omission at the time and notified UEA FOI Officer Palmer both of the error in the Muir Russell report and the University’s omission in their filing with Muir Russell, offering them the opportunity to notify Muir Russell of the error and asking Muir Russell to correct his report accordingly.

From: Steve McIntyre
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 10:39 AM
To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
Subject: Muir Russell

Dear Mr Palmer,

As I’m sure you’re aware, the Muir Russell inquiry incorrectly stated that they had seen “no evidence of any attempt to delete information in
respect of a request already made”, notwithstanding the fact that email 1212063122.txt of May 29, 2008, which they cite, occurs two days after and in reaction to David Holland’s request 08-31 of May 27, 2008.

I notice that the Muir Russell inquiries collation of FOI requests at their website 02 July CRU FOI&EIR requests.pdf omitted request 08-31 in their list of FOI and EIR requests. Under the circumstances, it is, to say the least, an unfortunate omission. Do you know why 08-31 was omitted from the Muir Russell list of requests?
Regards, Stephen McIntyre

Palmer replied that the omission was inadvertent and that they had mentioned it in their submission to the ICO and their public log. They didn’t mention whether they had mentioned in it in their submission to Muir Russell.

From: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
Sent: July-13-10 2:05 PM
To: Steve McIntyre
Subject: RE: Muir Russell

Dear Mr McIntyre
Thank you for drawing this matter to my attention. Having checked our records we realised that this request is indeed missing from the list provided to the Russell review. It is not on the list because the ‘CRU indicator’ within the FOI/EIR request master log was incorrectly set to ‘No’. This was simply due to human error and for which we, and I, apologise.

I would assure you that we have made no secret of this request; indeed, it was mentioned on several occasions in our most recent submission to the ICO in connection with the request for which we recently received a Decision Notice and is listed on our public Disclosure Log (see: https://www.uea.ac.uk/is/foi/disclosure/research)

We have now corrected the error on the master log and sent a revised version of the list to Sir Muir Russell.
Best wishes
Dave Palmer

I revisited the Muir Russell website and the list remains uncorrected at the Muir Russell website.

I’m quite sure that the omission of the critical email request was inadvertent, but it still was extraordinarily careless on a critical point, to say the least.

But, under the circumstances, it is exceedingly inappropriate for the University to take any satisfaction whatever in the finding that “there was no attempt to delete information with respect to a request already made” since the finding was incorrect, the FOI officers of the University know that it was incorrect and the University contributed at least in part to the untrue finding by filing an incorrect list of FOI requests with Muir Russell.


23 Comments

  1. Political Junkie
    Posted Sep 11, 2010 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

    Steve, if I read this correctly, you pointed out this omission July 13, 2010.

    This seems to have been ample time for Muir Russell to react by 1) correcting the record and 2) amending the statement that “there was no attempt to delete information with respect to a request already made”

    I trust the parliamentary committee will hold hiom to task on this!

  2. Rick Bradford
    Posted Sep 11, 2010 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

    I have come to the conclusion that this clique of UEA, Oxburgh, Muir Russell, the Royal Society just couldn’t care that their obfuscations, omissions, inconsistencies and economy with the truth are exposed. They don’t believe that anyone can touch them, no matter what they do.

    To the rest of us, they are simply raising a very large middle finger.

  3. AusieDan
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

    It is indeed unfortunate and perhaps even distressing that this FOI request was inadvertently left off the list of FOI requests.
    It is also unfortunate xxxxxxx etc etc xxxxxx that this and the many other misfornutate errors and omissions were not brought to the relevant investigating committees.

    Tsk Tsk Tsk – human error – such is life, I guess.

    I am not a citizen of the UK.
    So all I can do is to strongly recommend that each UK citizen reading this, promptly brings these unfortunate omissions and errors to the attention of your local MP.

    Surely someone in authority is interested in ferreting out the truth?

  4. Brownedoff
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 1:42 AM | Permalink

    AusieDan Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 12:49 AM

    “Surely someone in authority is interested in ferreting out the truth?”

    I regret to inform you that the answer to your question is NO.

  5. Russ
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 3:43 AM | Permalink

    Keep up the battle, Steve. We know whats going on, and they can’t hide it forever.
    They may cloud it and white wash it, but in the end it will come back to bite them for what they have done. Only the truth will set you free, and they keep changing their truth.

  6. Benjamin
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    Why dont you send an e-mail to Muir Russel with the evidence that this statement is untrue ?

  7. pesadilla
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 5:40 AM | Permalink

    snip

    There seems to be a high level of irritation just below the surface and the continual probing (AUDITING) needs to be widely circulated in order that they are not able to claim that they played a blinder.
    I cannot recall one straight answer to any of the questions asked at any of the enquiries.

  8. Green Sand
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 5:43 AM | Permalink

    Steve, sorry if I am reading this incorrectly but in:-

    “While Muir Russell had no excuse for their untrue finding (given the references to FOI in the subject line of the email), amazingly, the University left critical FOI request 08-23 out of its list of FOI requests tabled with the Muir Russell inquiry. See here for the UEA submission listing all FOI requests. David Holland’s FOI request 08-31 is missing from the list.”

    Shouldn’t the ref 08-23 be 08-31?

    Steve- fixed.

  9. TimG
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    Come on. Anyone half compentent would have known exactly what emails were getting the most play on sceptic blogs and would have noticed this particular omission.

    I do not accept the explaination that it was ‘accidental’.

  10. JEM
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    If it was accidental it was exceedingly sloppy, since given the nature of the contention over this point one would have expected a certain degree of double-checking.

    Of course since ‘exceedingly sloppy’ seems to be a pretty good summary for just about everything that’s come from these folks, I suppose it would be unreasonable to expect anything better in this area.

    Whitewash is quite forgiving of sloppy application.

  11. PhilH
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    OT. Steve, will you add Judith’s new blog, Climate Etc. to your roll? You are on hers.

    Steve: done

  12. TLC-LosAlamos
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Covering-up the ClimateGate Cover Up. Seems the ClimateGate dung heap continues to grow, and honest science suffers.

  13. Neil Hampshire
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    Hmm!

    Muir Russel receives a full list of FOI’s except the most controversial and contentious FOI

    Oxburgh receives a list of eleven papers except the most contoversial and contentious ones

    Is there some kind of pattern here?

  14. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    Steve, “I’m quite sure that the omission of the critical email request was inadvertent,…

    No you’re not. :-) That’s just you bending over backwards, as usual, to publicly give these people the benefit of the unlikeliest of doubts.

    It seems most convenient that their inadvertent oversight just happened to remove the one FOI request that pre-dated Phil Jones’ ‘delete all’ email circular.

    The entire climate science drama is unaccountably filled with the protagonist mistakes that all somehow tend toward support of the AGW story tellers.

    I guess Mike Mann’s omission of the R^2 admission before Congress was another one of those inadvertent mistakes – a spontaneous and unaccountable lapse of memory; like Wahl and Ammann forgetting to mention the lack of statistical skill in their HS apologia, until you forced their hand. Innocents, all.

  15. Don McIlvin
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Well now, perhaps there is a basis for an FOI request on whether Dave Palmer actually “sent” MR a revised list with the missing detail, or did he inadvertently send a copy of the unrevised list? I hate to be so cynical, but..

  16. David Holland
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    It is not only my FoIA request of 27 May 2008, FOI_08-31, that Russell does not show but also FOI_09-174 made on 28 November 2009 and of course much of my submission itself. It is hard to think it is all accidental.

    On 12 April 2010, 6 weeks after I submitted it Russell’s “William” emailed:

    Your submission has not yet been published as the Review’s legal advice is that it could be open to a claim of defamation under English law if it publishes the current version of your submission, as it makes references to, and comments upon, a large number of individuals. The Review, unlike the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, does not have Parliamentary privilege.

    What I was asking about in the two missing FoIA requests was the change in the “in press” deadline reported by Steve on 25 May 2008. Briffa tells us on page 26 of Russell evidence item 120 that Solomon, Jones Overpeck and Manning made the decision to change the deadline for papers to be “in press” from 16 December 2005 to 24 July 2006. The “new guidelines” that Manning sent out on 3/4 July 2006 began by stating:

    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. To ensure clarity and transparency in determining how such material might be included in the final Working Group I report, the following guidelines will be used by Lead Authors in considering such suggestions.

    I did not believe the “many” bit. There are 11, 289 comments and since WGI TSU did not intend to publish them electronically, they could say “many” asked for the changes they made with impunity – they thought. Searching for all the ways you might ask to have the deadline or guideline changed I can find only one from Rasmus Benestad in Chapter 11 and even he does not ask to have papers cited that were not “in press” until after the end of the review process.

    I had pointed out in the HoC submission that the “in press” deadline change circumvented the review process but with the strict word limit had not made the point that the reason stated was a pure fabrication. On the Russell submission I mentioned this in paragraphs 62 and 63:

    62. I have extensively searched the thousands of comments in several chapters of WGI and can find no evidence that “many” Reviewers wanted to add citations to papers that did not meet the originally published timetable and guidelines, but there will always be some that will ask for exemptions to any rule or deadline.

    63. As the official comments were not published until long after the final report, only the individual Reviewers knew what comments they had each made on the draft and were in no position to question the reason the TSU gave. Even if this was the real reason, it does not justify the abandonment of the prescribed criteria of the Expert Review process, which were there to ensure that it was above reproach.

    I have since checked even more carefully and I am confident that only Benestad’s comment comes close and the claim that “many” asked is untrue. This is a more serious charge than just breaking the rules and may explain why Solomon advised Mitchell, Hoskins and Briffa not to give me any information. Solomon’s email and one from Briffa are appended to my submission to Russell.

    The “new guidelines” invited suggestions for new citations and this was one of the things I requested in FOI_08-31. Leaked UEA email 1154353922.txt shows that some suggestions were sent to Briffa. By this time Steve had told me he had asked for Wegman and NRC 2006 to be cited to support the McIntyre and McKitrick criticism of Mann et al., so on 28 December 2009 I asked UEA for the spread sheet in FOI_09-174. On 26 January 2010 David Palmer advised me that it was deleted, but my request and this reply is also omitted from evidence item 116.

    On 21 March 2010, because of Palmer’s reply I emailed Jonathan Overpeck and Susan Solomon and asked if they had a copy. They did not reply but on 26 March UEA, found a copy and sent it me. Steve’s suggestions are not included. The suggestions are printed as the last page of Briffa’s evidence in item 120.

    Having been emailed that my submission would not be published, as a result of a comment by Steve, I realised that speciously edited bits of it are in Briffa’s Annex in evidence item 120. Paragraphs 62 and 63 are not among those Briffa cares to answer. Others like paragraph 44 and 64 are omitted to enable Briffa to deny that the change in the “in press” deadline was to retain references to Wahl and Ammann.

    I have sent a formal letter of complaint to Russell and sent it to the the HoC Select Committee with suggestions for their next meeting with Russell.

    • Posted Sep 13, 2010 at 3:28 AM | Permalink

      Re: David Holland (Sep 12 18:47), Thank you very much David for putting all this down here. I think it deserves elevating to its own thread. In fact I’d like to see your whole submission put up as a separate thread somewhere for discussion. It’s enough material to kick-start another book to follow Andrew Montfort’s Hockey Stick Illusion, in my opinion.

      my submission would not be published, as a result of a comment by Steve

      Can you elaborate?

  17. Frank
    Posted Sep 12, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    I’d guess that the revised list was sent to Muir Russell without any explanation of why the omission of the Holland request is important. They may have simply sent a revised list without explaining what new information was added.

  18. Posted Sep 13, 2010 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

    David/Steve, Is the full text of FOI 08-31 available somewhere?
    We can get some idea from 1212009215.txt (Jones’s “Keith should say” email)
    and 1211924186.txt (Osborn to Amman, can we say its confidential)
    and of course from your submission but it would be good to see the whole request.
    On the site Palmer links to we can see the excuses for not complying
    (including protecting the confidentiality of academic intercourse…)
    but not exactly what was requested.

4 Trackbacks

  1. By IPCC:s undergång | The Climate Scam on Sep 17, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    [...] 3)      Steve McIntyre kastar än mer ved på brasan genom att bevisa att Oxburgh-rapporten ljugit inför parlamentet då man påstått att en del av det granskade materialet varit rekommenderat av Royal Society. Se här. McIntyre har i tidigare inlägg också hudflängt Muir Russels rapport, se t.ex. här. [...]

  2. [...] Read the original article here [...]

  3. [...] Palmer of this omission and asked him to notify the Muir Russell inquiry – reported at CA here after the University had added foolishly endorsed the untrue Muir Russell finding on this matter [...]

  4. [...] Sep 14, 2010, after a CA post on the matter on Sep 11, Lisa Williams of UEA wrote Muir Russell, observing that the Muir Russell [...]

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