In their most refusal of David Holland’s FOI request for IPCC review comments, the U of East Anglia relied on a supposed IPCC doctrine of implicit confidentiality – a doctrine that is more or less equivalent to “omerta”. Even for the University of East Anglia, the provenance of this doctrine is remarkable. Acton and Trevor Davies must have sniggered.
In their refusal, UEA stated:
The fact that the IPCC has clear protocols for what information is to be in the public domain also points to the implicit assumption that, as the requested information is outside those protocols, it has never been intended to be publicly available.
They apply the alleged doctrine of IPCC implied confidentiality to impute confidentiality to Annex C1 authors who did not claim it when requested. For example, they say of John Fyfe, Lead Author of a different chapter:
John Fyfe LA for Chap 8 of WG1: Did not clarify his position regarding confidentiality, but this is implicitly assumed following IPCC procedure
The doctrine of implied confidentiality in the running text is derived from the statement in Annex C2, which stated:
By explicitly indicating what materials should be openly archived, the IPCC implicitly indicated that other materials should not be disclosed.
If anyone is to speak on behalf of IPCC, it is the IPCC secretariat. However, in the 32nd meeting in Busan in October 2010, only a few weeks prior to the UEA refusal, the IPCC secretariat stated that, while the rights and responsibilities of IPCC cadres under national FOI and the Aarhus Convention needs to be clarified, the IPCC itself cannot provide individual legal advice:
E2. The rights and responsibilities of all those involved in IPCC activities under the Aarhus Convention and in relation to requests under national Freedom of Information legislation needs to be clarified for the various groups: elected officials (Bureau), staff of the Secretariat, TSU staff, and experts involved in IPCC activities. However, IPCC cannot provide individual legal advice.
I’ll discuss the merit (or rather lack of merit) of the doctrine of “implied” confidentiality on another occasion. Today, I’ll answer a smaller question: if the IPCC declined to interpret its procedures for FOI requests, who was the authority for the novel doctrine of “implied” confidentiality? The remarkable answer:
Only Acton’s University of East Anglia, as advocates of the Team, would have the temerity to use Phil Jones as a supposed authority on IPCC procedures in a proceeding affecting his own request to delete-all-emails. Having passed off Oxburgh and Muir Russell as “inquiries”, they seem to feel that they can get away with anything. Now that no one could touch them, using Phil Jones as an authority on undocumented and previously unknown procedures was a masterful touch sure to irritate their critics. Who better than Phil Jones to act as authority on omerta among the Team? Acton and Trevor Davies must have laughed.