Boultonizing Holland’s Submission

Interesting new light on the Boultonization of Holland’s submission to Muir Russell at Bishop Hill (here).

Muir Russell’s first statement upon being appointed to look into CRU was:

Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find.

Instead, Muir Russell delegated the critical aspects of the inquiry to Geoffrey Boulton, who had worked for 18 years at the University of East Anglia in Environmental Sciences, overlapping Phil Jones, Tom Wigley, Ben Santer among others. In addition, Boulton has campaigned actively on climate issues and even signed the Met Office petition in December last year supporting CRU. His appointment to the panel was opposed by many submissions.

Muir Russell didn’t even bother attending any interviews with CRU scientists following his press conference, leaving the one interview of Jones and Briffa to the most conflicted panelist, Geoffrey Boulton.

In his press conference, Muir Russell was asked whether communications between the panel and the university would be public and promised that they would be. At about minute 26 in February, Muir Russell was asked (approx transcript follows):

Given that openness is the only weapon you have against allegations about lack of independence, will you do interviews? Will they publish those in some way or will they be public in some way? Will you publish communications that you will have and have had with the university?

Muir Russell answered:

we’ll put all that material on the website. It will come on at different times depending on its relevance to the stages that we’re at.

As with many other undertakings, Muir Russell breached this undertaking and did not place all communications with the University on the website – or even the majority of them. People who wish to see the communications promised by Muir Russell have had to use FOI on the University – with the University refusing many requests.

Muir Russell’s website shows Briffa’s response to some issues raised by David Holland. Boulton did not seek comments on Briffa’s response – the Briffa letter was posted up at the website only after the report was published (despite Muir Russell’s promise to post documents at their website as they were received.)

The response includes a May 6 letter by Geoffrey Boulton which refers to an “annex”, but the original letter together with the annex was not at the website. David Holland submitted an FOI for the original letter together with its annex, shedding some interesting light on how Boulton Boultonized the events described in Holland’s chronology.

The Annex is based on paragraphs 42-53 of Holland’s submission. (Muir Russell refused to place Holland’s full submission on their website.) Boulton’s annex is nearly word for word from Holland’s submission. Boulton removed Holland’s paragraph numbering (though his removal failed at one point and the number for paragraph 50 is embedded in his annex.)

However, Boulton removed some key portions of Holland’s chronology. Boulton removed the following from paragraph 42:

The above instruction imposed additional strict conditions necessary to ensure that Government and Expert Reviewers were reviewing the actual paper, as it would be published. It might be argued that it extended the “in press” deadline to any time in December 2005, although it did not specifically state that. It did make it absolutely clear, however, that a final preprint copy had to be held by the TSU by late February 2006 and that failure meant that citations must be removed.

Boulton removed the following sentence from paragraph 43:

As the writing team began work on the second order draft, Overpeck became concerned at not having the “final preprint” of some papers as the end of February 2006 approached.

Boulton removed all of paragraph 44 which read:

44. On 11 February 2006 in email 1141180962, Wahl tries to secure the acceptance of Wahl and Ammann writing to the editor, Stephen Schneider, of the journal Climatic Change:

“Hello Steve:
Caspar and I expect to have the final manuscript to you in 7-10 days
with all the revisions you requested in December. I have recently had
some correspondance with Jonathan Overpeck about this, in his IPCC
role. He says that the paper needs to be in press by the end of February
to be acceptable to be cited in the SOD. [I had thought that we had
passed all chance for citation in the next IPCC report back in December,
but Peck has made it known to me this is not so.] He and I have communicated re: what “in press” means for Climatic Change, and I agreed to contact you to have a clear definition. What I have understood from our conversations before is that if you receive the mss and move it from “provisionally accepted” status to “accepted”, then this can be considered in press, in light of CC being a journal of record.
Peace, Gene”

The deletion of paragraph 44 led to a non-sequitur in what would have been Holland’s paragraph 45, which stated:

45. The sentence, that Wahl put in parentheses above, shows that he had understood the clear TSU instruction that the paper had to be “in press” by 16 December and was not expecting his paper, written with Caspar Ammann, to be acceptable to the IPCC WGI TSU. Overpeck was overlooking this and a major effort was evidently underway to squeeze this critical paper into the IPCC report. Schneider eventually replied from Australia, accepting the paper in email 1141145428, received by Wahl at 9:33 PM on 28 February 2006.

Briffa’s “rebuttal” seized on the Boultonized omission, pointing out:

No text from Wahl is quoted above and therefore this statement is in error.

The statement in parenthesis was from Wahl’s original email:

I had thought that we had passed all chance for citation in the next IPCC report back in December, but Peck has made it known to me this is not so.

As David Holland observed, Briffa’s response shows that he was in possession of Holland’s submission (contrary to UEA’s original statement that they did not possess a copy of his submission – a point that they conceded a day or two ago.) Briffa’s “rebuttal” applied only to the Boultonized version. Boulton’s reasons for Boultonizing the chronology have thus far not been explained.

More of the “small inaccuracies” that are traditional in British inquiries.

The new documents also show that Muir Russell moved his email contact from the public sector Judicial Appointments Board (which would be subject to FOI) to a generic address and that staffer William Hardie, (who is presumably will_50), seconded from the Royal Society of Edinburgh – an affiliation referred to by Muir Russell at the press conference – also set up a a generic email address distinct from his Royal Society of Edinburgh email (the RSE voluntarily complies with FOI).

37 Comments

  1. Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Geoffrey’s sole contribution to a grateful nation was the verb: to Boultonize.

  2. Hector M.
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Small typo:
    “Boulton removed all of paragraph 45 which read:
    44. On 11 February 2006 in email 1141180962,…..”

    You transcribe paragraph 44 but it is announced as paragraph 45.

    Steve: fixed.

  3. Ron Cram
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It seems to me Briffa is nearly equally at fault here. If I understand correctly, Briffa was in possession of Holland’s original submission but he comments on the Boultonized version which doesn’t quote Wahl knowing full well the original version DID quote Wahl.

    So what is the verb meaning to knowingly treat a Boultonized version as legitimate? We need to have a verb to name Briffa’s action here.

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Regarding Briffa’s action – I nominate “to Briffacate.”

      • mpaul
        Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

        or maybe proBrifficate :)

        • mpaul
          Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

          Oops, make that preBrifficate

        • mikep
          Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

          Fabrifcate?

    • TerryMN
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

      His reply, and later reference to Holland might also be considered a Major Briffacup. ;)

    • Luther Blissett
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 4:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

      In non-post-normal-science (ouch) contexts, ‘dissemble’ would be the appropriate verb.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm- boultonize is already an existing term – there are existing scientific studies of the differences between “air dried and boultonized treatment”.

    • TerryS
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Since he’s British use the British version boultonise with an ‘s’ instead of a ‘z’

  5. golf charley
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    ZT
    “Boultonize”, I think it is similar to “plagiarize”,but also incorporates “whilst at the same time making further mistakes, that will further discredit, you, and that which you seek to defend”.

    Yes, Boultonize, is a great new word.

  6. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Along this lines, when Oxburgh issued a report excluding key Jones’ admissions (on the grounds that “science was not the topic of the study”, he presumably issued the oxburghated cersion of his report.

  7. stan
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Inspector Clouseau investigates Dumb and Dumber. What a mess.

    • geronimo
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It is a mess Stan, but they are going to walk away scot free.

  8. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, thanks so much for this helpful and lucid synopsis. Your continued efforts are carefully followed and much appreciated. Thanks also to the person(s) who gave us those emails and documents that so clearly reveal what was going on at CRU and UAE. I feel sorry for anyone who is now or has been a student at UAE. Your administrative leadership is less than exemplary.

  9. David Holland
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am going to go with Briffacate. I will repeat here that it only a chance reply by Steve to a comment that I made at CA that I found my Briffacated submission and I remain amazed at Steve’s attention to detail. Over at BH I wondered what Judge would say if a lawyer presented Boultonised witness statement for the defence in which the court was unaware of the redactions and its author. I think we can ask the same for a Briffacated witness statement for defence.

    If found out, as UEA now are, I think the defence would collapse. This last twist speaks to the rigour and honesty of all concerned at UEA and in the Russell team. How many of them saw the Boultonized version and how many saw the Briffcated one? If Briffa could get the real thing (and he only had to ask) why didn’t Acton and Davies? I think I know the answer. What does this say for UEA if they all had or if they never bothered to find out what was in it?

    On another point Peter Clarke used his Edinburgh Uni email and I have filed an FOIA request on WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Actually it doesn’t really matter. For most that are employed someone will be responsible for their employment National Insurance contributions and so forth even when seconded, say, to the IPCC they remain employees. And they remain so even if on paternity leave, as Miles Allen tried to use to avoid disclosure. Information held on behalf of a public authority is still held by the authority.

    • TerryS
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      David, the DPA (data protection act) might gain you access to any email that specifically mentions you. The DPA is not restricted to government and because you are asking for information specific to you it might get documents that FOI doesn’t cover.

      • David Holland
        Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

        That’s how I get the best bits!

  10. Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 12:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm: “Boulton impregnated a piece of wood with natron and afterwards placed it in creosote at a temperature above the boiling point of water.” (as recorded here)

    This may account for the glassy stare. (And may also be under consideration as a legal defense).

    • Mark Adams
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 1:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

      ZT — That’s hilarious. About fell out of my chair laughing!

  11. Steve
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I believe that if a generic email account is accessed through the service provider’s webmail service from a computer at the place of work, there would be a record on the server of the interaction at the place of work. This assumes that someone would be accessing generic email while at their office.

    Most institutions and places of work have web and email policies that do not recognize access of any information via their network as being private. Any information would belong to the institution in question.
    You would have to know what to ask for.

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I remind readers that there was considerable discussion after Boulton’s appointment about the shall-we-say Boultonization of his CV. Boulton’s Inquiry bio omitted the fact that he had worked at UEA for 18 years. The Inquiry bio remains uncorrected.

    See CA discussion here . At the press conference, BOulton admitted to working at CRU from 1968 to 1986, strangely failing to report his continued employment until 1986, but did not make the necessary corrections to his Inquiry bio. In the prss conference, Boulton emphasized that this was 30 years ago, but not mentioning whether he knew Climategate principals Jones, Wigley, Santer, etc Or Acton or Trevor Davies (with whom he is seen at a jovial event a couple of years ago.)

    Boulton also stepped in at the press conference, when a reporter asked why the Issues Paper didn’t mention the delete-all-emails email (about which the Inquiry later made untrue “findings”.) Muir Russell promised to examine the matter and to work closely with the ICO – more promises that Muir Russell thumbed his nose at. Boulton stepped in, saying that they did mention the email – but it was a boultonized reference since he moved the pea under the thimble to another email (the reporters being unaware of the trick).

    • Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 5:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

      There’s a small typo which needs corrected in your 2nd para. Boulton stated he was employed at CRU to 1980. It only later came out he was also employed part time from 1980 to 1986

    • Skiphil
      Posted Jan 15, 2013 at 10:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Can we say that the entire inquiry was Boultonized?

      He seems to have been the linchpin rather than Muir Russell, who seems more like an empty suit.

      I wonder if Boulton might even have been involved in discussion with UEA first, about how to staff and shape the inquiry, before Muir Russell was announced? That might explain why Boulton seems to have been so central to the whole inquiry, even though he was announced as a fill-in appointment??

      • theduke
        Posted Jan 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Richard Drake’s report on today’s proceedings at Bishop Hill:

        EA never considered a retired judge to lead the inquiry. Oh well. He had no idea about Boulton being chosen by MR until the public announcement on 11th February 2010, although all selections had been made by 18th December. This surprised quite a few I think. He said that the view of Trevor Davies and others at UEA was that there was some bad blood between Boulton and UEA and it wasn’t likely to be a very happy choice for UEA but they had to wear it. The PRES asked later if he’d not wanted to say something to MR about this. He insisted that he trusted MR – though elsewhere he said he’d never met him before and had barely heard of him. Yet it only took between 30th November and 3rd December to approach MR and seal the deal. From then it was reputationally vital to keep the whole MRG at arm’s length.

        I don’t think Acton’s statements here are credible. He alternates between knowing everything in great detail to knowing nothing about extremely important things he should have known.

        Boulton’s relationships with those people Steve lists above, his proximity to them since 1986, should be examined in detail.

        The inquiry itself needs to be investigated as a potential abuse of the taxpayers’ money. It didn’t uncover the truth. It left more questions unanswered than it answered. The university’s reputation was not salvaged.

        • Skiphil
          Posted Jan 15, 2013 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

          Re: Acton’s statement about possible ‘bad blood’ between Boulton and UEA, why does this ring false to me? Acton is trying to create psychological distancing for what is clearly a biased, inappropriate appointment.

          Methinks Lady Acton doth protest too much….

  13. alex verlinden
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    with everything I read here, it is worse than I thought …

    historians on this, in 50 years time, will raise their eyebrows way above their forehead …

  14. Brian H
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 3:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    All the assurances of openness contain weasel-words that permit de facto unlimited discretion and selectivity on the part of the releasers. Which, of course, torpedoes the entire enterprise.

    Transparent BS.

  15. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Unbriffakinglieveable!

    • Michael Jankowski
      Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 4:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

      (minus my typo, of course)

  16. Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 5:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So, to Boultonise something, one would need to buy a Boult-O-Matic. Made, of course, from totally green materials – snip

    • Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 9:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Snip? Aw come on! Mine wasn’t nearly as offensive as the Monty Python skit!

  17. golf charley
    Posted Nov 24, 2010 at 6:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Pontbrifficate. To appear to be thinking about something, whilst actually trying to convince people of the opposite

  18. Chris
    Posted Nov 25, 2010 at 6:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Muir Russell also ‘managed’ the collosal overspend on the Scottish Parliament for which he was criticised widely. One of the main failings of his was delegating a lot of things and then failing to manage them fully.

    Looks like this is a career trait rather than a one-off.

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