The Muir Russell “Contract”

Apparently the U of East Anglia paid the Muir Russell inquiry nearly £300,000. David Holland has requested information on the contractual basis of these payments. Situation normal – the UEA has refused to provide the information and it looks like another appeal to the ICO.
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David Holland’s correspondence on the file is online here. His original request (Dec 22, 2010) was simple enough:

Please provide me copies of the Correspondence between the University and Sir Muir Russell that, in the view of the University, comprises the contractual basis under which Sir Muir and his team operated and under which the University was contractually obliged to pay the sums that you have disclosed of what, I assume, is taxpayers money.

Please advise me as to how the disbursements were made. For instance, were the fees of the legal advisors paid directly by the University? If not who paid and how were they reimbursed.

Rather than answer the question in a straightforward way, the UEA refused. In previous FOI cases, the institutions have often caused more damage to their credibility with implausible excuses and this appears to be one more example. In this case, the UEA denied that there was a “contractual relationship” between UEA and Muir Russell (despite some correspondence otherwise), thus claiming to possess no relevant information to the “contractual relationship”:

The University does not consider that there was a contractual relationship with Sir Muir Russell or the inquiry team; it was by way of a public appointment (as is commonplace in these circumstances). Nonetheless, it may be helpful to you in understanding the terms on which the appointment was made if we refer you to the agreed terms of reference (see: http://www.ccereview.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf, p.22) and certain email correspondence between Professor Acton and Sir Muir. (see attached .pdf file).

The attached file contained a summary of the agreement between Acton and Muir Russell, including a suggestion from Acton that Russell’s fee be “a bit higher, £40,000. Plus travel, accommodation and administrative support…”

Holland was understandably perplexed at the UEA’s claim that there was no “contractual relationship” between the university and Muir Russell, particularly when the attached email set out what clearly appear to be terms of an agreement. Holland reverted to UEA as follows:

I am perplexed that the University does not consider that there was
a contractual relationship between it and Sir Muir Russell, as you
very kindly attached an email exchange which, though I am not
lawyer, I am confident is proof positive that there was a contract,
since:

(a) There is the unqualified acceptance by Sir Muir – “I am happy to sign up on this basis”.

(b) There is a specified “service” – “the Independent Review”, the terms of which were proposed in the attachment sent by the University and agreed by Sir Muir.

(c) There is a “consideration” offered by the University – £40,000 plus expenses and an unqualified undertaking to cover “fees” charged for the additional expertise required by Sir Muir.

(d) You have in response to another request revealed that the total cost to the University of the Independent Review was nearly £300,000.

Please supply the draft announcement sent to Sir Muir and which he was happy to sign up to as this rather than what was published appears to be the basis of the agreement.

Please confirm that the University now accepts that Sir Muir Russell carried out his Independent Review on behalf of the the University and under contract to it.

Please supply without redactions point 3 of Professor Acton’s email to Sir Muir which is clearly part of the contract or it would not have been written.

Please supply the earlier email from Professor Acton to Sir Muir referred to in the paragraph following point 5.

Please supply any contemporaneous note Professor Acton took of the the “taxi” conversation referred to.

Please carefully search for any earlier or later information which might amount to variations in the contract terms, for instance there must have been some discussions, invoices and documentation to support the substantial cost beyond the £40k fee to Sir Muir.

In particular I wish to see any document that instructs or permits Sir Muir to “centralise” or “consolidate” elsewhere all the information pertaining to the Review originally “held” by public authorities subject to FoIA/EIR and to then delete it from the original authority’s records.

I note that you have not assigned an EIR reference to this request and would ask that you carefully reconsider the classification of it. I think this week’s Report of the Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology leaves no room to dispute that my requests are integral to a full understanding by the public of the most important “environmental matter” this country faces.


The Ballooning Cost of the Muir Russell Inquiry

When one re-reads the original email from Acton to Muir Russell, it sure looks like Acton thought that the budget for the inquiry was going to be in the range of £40,000 plus some incidentals and would be completed by middle February. It is not clear from the email that the university expected to pay Muir Russell £40,000 personally or that the report would eventually cost them £300,000. Perhaps this is what they contemplated all along – this would no doubt be clear from the agreement between the parties.

One also wonders whether the university understood that Muir Russell wouldn’t even bother attending the only interviews with Jones and Briffa where evidence was taken (the March 4 and April 9 interviews). Trevor Davies was unaware that Muir Russell hadn’t attended these interviews in July 2010 (at the Guardian public meeting, he embarrassingly had to ask me for information about this). It seems entirely reasonable to inquire into the UEA’s “contractual basis” with Muir Russell – see Holyrood for a prior example of Muir Russell failure to manage costs.

Public Appointments

One also wonders from time to time whether prevaricating institutions consider the implications of their excuses or just make up the first excuse that comes into their head.

“Public appointments” in the UK do not give the university carte blanche to do whatever they want or to avoid FOI requests. Quite the contrary. “Public appointments” in the UK are highly regulated and institutions making “public appointments” must comply with a Code of Practice.

The UK Commissioner of Public Appointments – see here states that any “appointments processes should be made in accordance with the Code of Practice pdf .

2.02 Every individual who is involved in the running of a public appointments process to which this Code applies must comply with the Code Principles.

This Code sets out Seven Principles”, including the Principle of Independent Scrutiny, described as follows:

No appointment must take place without first being scrutinised by an independent panel or by a group including membership independent of the department filling the post.

One wonders how the UEA carried out these obligations in its “public appointment” of Muir Russell. One wonders how the “independent assessors” approved Geoffrey Boulton’s appointment, given the criteria that the appointees not have prior connections to the UEA or stated positions on the issues at hand.

In addition, the Code of Practice for public appointments requires something in short supply – “openness and transparency”:

The principles of open government must be applied to the appointments process, its working must be transparent and information provided about the appointments made.

They also require careful documentation of the appointment:

all stages of the public appointments process, including relevant conversations and decisions, must be documented by departments and those acting on their behalf and the information made readily available for audit or other investigation;

and

the Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000 and any related legislation or guidance must be considered and applied in relation to all relevant data obtained or held in relation to a public appointments process.

If a public appointment is to be made without compliance with the Code of Practice, the appointing body has an obligation to get permission from the Commissioner:

1.15 Any proposal to proceed other than in compliance with this Code must be agreed with the Commissioner in advance and the outcome (whether or not agreement has been reached) recorded in writing. All breaches of the Code, knowingly committed, or deviations from the procedures set out in this Code must be fully recorded at the same time for the purpose of subsequent public or other scrutiny. No individual other than the Commissioner (such as an Independent Public Appointments Assessor) has authority to agree any proposal to proceed in a manner which does not comply with this Code.

I don’t entirely understood why the University of East Anglia has taken the position that Muir Russell was a “public appointment” rather than a mere contract, as it seems to me that the obligations of the University for due diligence and transparency are significantly greater with a “public appointment” than a mere contract.

In any event, now that the university has adopted this legal position, no doubt we’ll see where it leads.


81 Comments

  1. Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    Thanks, Steve, for your tenacity.

    Climategate is only the visible tip of an iceberg floating on decades of abuse of government science.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    • Graeme
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

      For £300k, I wonder whether this needed to be sent out to tender in an official publication? At the very least, there should be a query through to the Department for Businesss, Innovation and Skills… This is quite a large proportion of the non-teaching budget to blow in one amount.

  2. DBD
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    Unbelievable. And these are educated adults right??

  3. Punksta
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    Prima facie evidence that the enquiries were a sham.
    Perhaps strengthens the case for a judicial intervention of some kind?

  4. geo
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    Oy vey. Yet another wonderful example of how much attitude matters when applying “neutral principles”, and how chest beating protestations to the contrary, it is clear here that UEA’s attitude has not changed in any appreciable way. They are still committed to “line dancing” at the far edges of the legally defensible re FOIA.

    And the problem with “line dancing” on a regular basis, is that you are nearly certain to slip over that line into inappropriateness fairly regularly as well.

    I hope (without expecting) that the parliamentary committee that heard their crocodile tears about the lessons they’ve learned on openness will take notice that nothing has fundamentally changed in this area at UEA.

  5. Steeptown
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    It seems like UEA is in it again. Either they committed to spend £300k without a contract (which seems like corruuption) or the committee members were public appointments, in which case all the documentation must be available.

  6. JohnOfEnfield
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

    @geo

    Surely it should read “legally INdefensible”.

    • geo
      Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 1:35 AM | Permalink

      Oh, no doubt it can be defended and they have lawyers that have said so.

      Whether it can be defended successfully or not. . . now that is a different question, and largely a matter of the deepness of the pockets of those who care to challenge. Sad, but true.

  7. David Holland
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    How much do you think website management and report production should have cost? With “media advice” from the likes of Mike Granatt of Luther Pendragon, the total bill came to £52,666.68. Then there was £22,641.55 of lawyers fees. Almost a quarter of the cost to taxpayers was spent not doing the job. But look at the actual contract document!

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

      David, the provided email includes a phrase from Action “As I suggested in my email this morning..”. They should have delivered this email as part of the FOI response. I wonder what’s in it.

      • David Holland
        Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (Feb 28 13:00),

        I wondered also and asked. In the reply UEA say:

        [4] Please supply the earlier email from Professor Acton to Sir Muir referred to in the paragraph following point 5.
        [Information not held – s.1(1)(a), Freedom of Information Act]
        The University does not hold the requested document.

        So what happened to it?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          Re: David Holland (Feb 28 15:25),

          So what happened to it?

          I wonder if some of Acton’s communications on university business were from generic email rather university email. WOuld that evade UK FOI legislation?

          Or maybe Briffa took it home for safekeeping :)

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

          Re: David Holland (Feb 28 15:25),

          Do you (or anyone else) know anything about the areas of practice of the two firms of lawyers that were paid?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

      Something about the legal advice that remains very unclear to me.

      If (1) the university obtained legal advice; (2) Muir Russell is actually “independent” of the University and (3) the university provided the legal advice to Muir Russell, then it seems to me that the university waived confidentiality. If it wanted to preserve confidentiality, it should have told Muir Russell to get independent advice of its own.

      The Muir Russell report suggests that it relied in part on legal advice provided to the university, rather than to the inquiry.

      An important distinction.

      • David Holland
        Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (Feb 28 13:05),

        I agree. I will appeal several things. Legal privilege is not absolute in FoIA cases but still not easy to overcome.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

          David, would Acton be able to authorize the inquiry on his own – without approval from the UEA Board of Directors or equivalent? I doubt it. The Chairman of the UEA Board of Governors at the time, as I recall, was a Chartered Accountant from a respectable firm. Maybe he has some documents.

        • Dave
          Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 8:30 AM | Permalink

          Maybe I’m confused, but when the university calls it a public appointment, are they talking about this kind of thing instead:

          http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/UKgovernment/UKpublicappointments/DG_067071

          Perhaps there’s a government department/committee which was ‘responsible’ in the university’s view for setting up the inquiry, and which might be more responsive?

        • Iain McQueen
          Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dave (Mar 1 08:30),
          This is the whole point, and as I mentioned above Dr Iain McQueen (Feb 28 14:22), I think we will see UEA (Acton) claim that when he used the term ‘public appointment’ describing Muir Russell he was not using it ‘the formal government sense’. If he stuck to the formal government appointment idea then I think he would be in deep trouble over his whole appointment procedure, and subject to all the relevant regulations, including FOI disclosure.
          Remember the term was first used in this connection by Palmer in a FOI response to Holland, trying to slide away from the concept that Russell had an actual contract with UEA.

  8. Stacey
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    £300 000 for a report of 160 pages and a few meetings? Were the members still collecting their salaries from their employers?

    What would the deliverables be if you paid an architect or structural engineer this level of fee? One heck of a lot of drawings and calculations, meetings attended etc.

    At £300 per hour(without overheads) that’s 1000 hours of work or approximately 27 man weeks. Almost 7 weeks of continuous working for each member?

    • glacierman
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

      You have to pay higher fees if you want participants to provide cover to the pre-determined outcome.

  9. Punksta
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    Contract document :
    “Dear Muir
    …If the names emerge as chosen by us, the whitewash charge could appear”.

    Well if nothing else, they certainly chose dear Muir. And I wonder who else….

  10. j ferguson
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    My experience with whitewash is that it tends toward transparency. It takes many coats to reach opaque. Maybe these guys need a few more coats.

  11. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    out of the frying pan into the fire.

  12. bobdenton
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    The “Public Appointment” gambit by UEA is rather obscure. UEA is a public body and any appointment it makes is an appoimntment by a public body. The cleaners, teachers and librarians are all appointments made by a public body. Nonetheless they have a contract with UEA and most are probably employees. Muir was certainly not an employee of UEA, he was an independent contractor, appointed by a public body, though that makes no difference whatsoever to the relationship between them.

    The disclosed communications are sufficient evidence to create that relationship. If there is a further suggestion that there was no intention to create legal relations that intention is not stated and the relationship is not one which will normally imply an intention not to create legal relations.

    There is a further possiblity. UEA may be suggesting that Muir was appointed by the university to a public office – in short, he was an office holder. However, where a public body is empowered to make appointments to a public office, the public office, and powers, rights and privileges of the office holder arise separately from the appointing body. An office holder therefore may not have a contractual with the appointor. I think they will be hard pressed to show they have appointed Muir to a previously unrecognised class of public office.

    Muir is almost certainly an independent contractor with a minimal contract specifying the task and reward only – You produce an independent report, we will pay you £40,000 plus expenses and provide adminastrative support. There is no express provision regarding property in documents created in the process of producing the independent report. An independent contractor has a very wide discretion in carrying out the task and everything he creates, apart from the product contracted for, remain his, unless there is an express provision in the contract to the contrary.

    The FOIA 2000 only reaches so far and it may be that the remaining documents are beyond it’s farthest reach.

    ( I presume they will respond to item 6

    Please carefully search for any earlier or later information which might amount to variations in the contract terms, for instance there must have been some discussions, invoices and documentation to support the substantial cost beyond the £40k fee to Sir Muir.

    to which they have so far not responded).

  13. Dr Iain McQueen
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    They have put themselves in a bit of a pickle calling Muir Russell’s appointment a “public appointment” and I thought exactly what Steve has drawn our attention too. I have sat on several true Public Appointments Committees at high level for government posts, and in my field the regulations were rigidly (and irritatingly!) enforced. One of the first requirements is a public advertisement for the post, and even at that point many rules come to bear, defining where and how you phrase the advertisement.

    My guess when they are finally pressed by the ICO on this matter (as they surely will be eventually since they are provoking so much ire by their slippery prevarications) they will slither away from the concept of a true public appointment, and revert to nomenclature using such ill defined terms as “agreement”. Because they have already denied in a FOI responnse there was a “contract” some other descriptive term will be needed, the woollier the better!

    What a mess they are making for themselves. Can’t they see people are not just going to drop this matter?

  14. 007
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    did lewis carol write the email….that would be hilarious if it weren’t so serious.

    To paraphrase – “You need to appear independent so this is what you should do”

  15. Latimer Alder
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    I can’t believe that an experienced guy like Russell would raise a finger until he was sure that there was a valid contract in place, and so that he was certain of eventual payment. Or if he did, then he is a bigger fool than I already think he is.

    First rule of contract work: Make sure you have a signed valid contract before starting work. However much you trust your contractee. No contract = working for nothing.

    • Fred Bloggs
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

      He has been a full-time civil servant all his life and probably never had to negotiate an employment contract. He just climbed the pay scales. The world of contracting services is probably beyond his ken.

  16. hunter
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    The best whitewash money could buy.
    What a hoot.

  17. Gary
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    The price of whitewash seems to have risen quite high. Two or three faculty positions probably could be secured for a year with that amount.

  18. geronimo
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    Dr.McQueem: “Can’t they see people are not just going to drop this matter?”

    It is difficult for us to understand where they are coming from. They have already gotten away with refusing FOI requests and probably believe that they can do it again by running out the time. I say that, but I doubt they really have a plan. Why would they? They have already managed to exonerate themselves from a prima facie case of manipulating and hiding data, trying to stop papers they don’t like and multiple other misdeeds which, if they weren’t pushing the new religion, should have made them infamous. (And will do as time goes by) They have the entire establishment as a backstop, the ICO is powerless unless approached within six months of a refusal, they can run the clock down, and if they’re subsequently hauled before parliament they can expect the same kid glove treatment they received last time from Parliamentarians bought into the snake oil they’re pedalling.

  19. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    Any time you agree to pay someone for services and they agree to do it you have a contractual arrangement, even if it is just an email or a phone call. I call the plumber and he comes over and it is contractual and he could sue me if I don’t pay him. This is standard contract law (even in England, even for institutions) and UEA is living in some fantasy land if they think they can make up words like this. If they had failed to pay Muir Russell they would have quickly found out that they did in fact have a contract.

  20. stan
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Sloppy. Really sloppy.

    If these folks had any credibility left, this would definitely hurt.

  21. KnR
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    We already knew Russell’s inquiry was rubbish now we know it was expensive rubbish. Given the quality of the reviews as seen ,it is actual perfectly possible that there was no written contract and it was based on handshakes and gentleman’s agreement. That UEA have not change how they deal with FOI is not a real surprise , as one by product of the poor reviews was the message ‘carry on as before ‘ sent-out to CRU and UEA.
    Yes like so much in this area , its stinks , its going take the information commissioner getting down and dirty to get UEA and CRU back into line.

  22. David S
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    Looks like the UEA got excellent value for money. The report appears to have been only 7 times over budget, which is a dramatic improvement on Muir Russell’s previous record on the Scottish parliament building, where a £40 million budget ballooned to £424 million and the project was completed 3 years late.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/politics/holyrood-fiasco-peer-s-40k-for-chairing-climategate-review-1.1052947

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

      Re: David S (Feb 28 16:17),

      In this case, what appears to have been a £40 K budget ballooned to £300 K. The scale was smaller but still inflation by an order of magnitude.

      Following the money looks like a good idea here. They’ll have a harder time using exemptions.

      • Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

        I have to confess I’ve not got around to the latest on CA until now. But the numbers here are enough. This is absolutely hilarious. Well done Davids H for extracting yet another far-fetched excuse from UEA and S for the Scottish parallel. At some point balloons burst. You’re multiplying not just budgets but probabilities Sir Muir. Vanishingly small has it.

    • Skiphil
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

      Are there any real journalists left in the UK who could be stimulated to take a fresh look at this entire UEA – Muir Russell fiasco?

      Hugely ballooned budget for no recognizable quality of output (unless ‘quality’ is defined with reference to successful obfuscation, deception, and cover-up)……

      This should become a textbook case of abuse of public trust….

  23. Grant
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

    I’m not sure that the UEA can be considered a ‘public body’ ie. capable of making ‘public appointments’ which would be subject to the Commissioner of Public Appointments requirements.
    The UEA website does describe the university as ‘public’ but in reading into that definition it appears that it may only be ‘public’ in the sense of receiving public funding. Its assets and operation are not under government control(save for adherence to legislative requirements).
    I think the good Vice-Chancellor has a contract by whatever way he describes it.
    (When he has all of this sorted out he may want to consider changing the school colours to something other than ‘Black and Blue’)

    • Graeme
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

      a l,ow shot…but I posted on shewonk’s awful site…

    • Faustino
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

      This definition of UK public bodies does not include universities: http://www.pebble.uk.net/publicbodies.html

      However, given that UK universities are generally government funded, it may be that they are public bodies responsible to the funding department, e.g the Department of Education (or whatever its current title). My assumption prior to reading that definition was that non-private UK universities would be considered “public bodies.”

    • Faustino
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

      Notwithstanding the previous, the UK Information Commissioner has extended that definition to public-funded bodies; but not for FOI:

      “With the above point in mind it is interesting to read the UK Information Commissioners (http://www.ico.gov.uk ) decision published on the 4th August 2006 ( http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/pressreleases/2006/ic_rules_network_rail_subject_to_eir_04_08_06.pdf ) regarding Network Rail ( http://www.networkrail.co.uk/) who claimed that they were a private company and as such were exempt from both the UK Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the UK?s transposition of the EU Directive on the Freedom of access to Environmental Information. The Information Commissioner has ruled that Network Rail falls within the definition of a public authority under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), and must therefore respond to requests for environmental information.

      The Information Commissioner took the opportunity to clarify Network Rail?s status under both the EIR and the Freedom of Information Act. He has ruled that due to the public administration functions and the responsibilities of the company, Network Rail is considered to be a public authority under the EIR. However, it is not considered to be a public authority for the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act, and so will not have to respond to FOI requests.”

      http://www.epsiplus.net/news/news/uk_public_body_definition/%28year%29/2006/%28month%29/09

      Given that universities are subject to FOI, it would appear that they must be “public bodies.”

  24. Graeme
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    I will rtaise this with my MP. It is a shocking waste of public funds.

  25. Graeme
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    come on Grant…UEA is funded by the British Government. In what way is it not a public body? I think the governing council have gone way way ultra vires here and should be surcharged.

    • Grant
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

      This from Wikipedia..(yes, I know..)
      “In the United Kingdom all universities, with the sole exception of the University of Buckingham,[9] are currently funded mainly by government teaching and research grants. At all universities, excluding the University of Buckingham, the government also regulates tuition fees, student funding and student loans. However, unlike in Continental European countries, the British government does not officially own most universities’ assets, and university staff are not hired as civil servants, so they are best described neither as public nor private, but as independent universities with public funding.”
      My main point however, was that he grabbed a term (‘public appointment’) to ‘make smoke’, when the smoke cleared we saw a contract.
      ‘make smoke’

  26. Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    I daresay that if one were to plot the costs of the Muir-Russel Inquiry, it would resemble the blade of a hockey stick. And one could also derive a correlation with rubber futures, if the right number of PCs are retained ;)

  27. Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:32 PM | Permalink

    A lot of astroturfing in this blog!!

    McIntyre you say:
    “Russell’s fee be “a bit higher, £40,000. Plus travel, accommodation and administrative support”
    Then you speculate:
    ” Acton thought that the budget for the inquiry was going to be in the range of £40,000 plus some incidentals and would be completed by middle February…It is not clear from the email that the university expected to pay Muir Russell £40,000 personally …”
    The email stated £40k is Russell’s [inflated!] fees.No need for speculation surely?

    Lawyers (non-specific local) £250/hr to (london specialised) &gt&gt £500/hr so the fee amounts to &lt 45 hours+expenses.

    To what end are Holland/McIntyre pursuing this? It is simply costing UEA more money.

    Please state objectives (“the truth” is not acceptabe – what do you want to do with the truth?)

    Does it actually disprove AGW?

    WHY?????

    • John M
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

      “the truth” is not acceptabe

      No kidding.

      • Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

        Please quote the full line
        “what do you want to do with the truth?)” i.e. the truth does not answer the question “what is the purpose”

        • John M
          Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

          Please quote the full line

          I was trying to be kind. When someone doesn’t accept “the truth” as a wothy purpose, it’s best not to bring it up. Sort of like not commenting about a wart on someone’s nose.

    • Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

      Holland, When you appeared on television in 2010 (2009?) you seemed like a reasonable person. Why are you happy to force further cost on the UEA. You know the state of university funding in this country.

      What is your purpose in pursuing this and costing the UEA further? You must have a worthwhile outcome in mind. Please share it!

      • jst
        Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

        Why is the cost of information that should be free be so high?

      • Keith Grubb
        Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

        In search of the truth my friend. Just like your friends at RC. What could go wrong?

      • Graeme W
        Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

        Forgive me for being confused, but why are these FOI requests supposed to be costing the university money? As I understand it, they have an FOI officer who will be paid the same regardless of whether they are answering these FOI requests or not. There is no additional cost to the university for that person’s time spent answering these queries. Then there are the appropriate university employees to which the queries are directed. Again, I suspect they are all employees that are paid the same regardless of whether they are responding to FOI queries or not.

        Therefore, I see no additional costs being involved. Am I missing something?

      • Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

        Re: thefordprefect (Feb 28 19:44),

        snip – editorializing

      • stan
        Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

        In the current conflict, credibility will ultimately be the coin of the realm. Integrity is a critical component of credibility. So is competence, even competence in the simplest of matters.

        This story raises the possibility that perhaps the authorities involved may have performed their duties with something less than competence. And if they are not competent at the most basic level in performing their duties, it raises questions about their performance with regard to other areas of their work.

        The same issues were raised by the Harry Read Me file, by the Jones UHI study, by Rahmstorf’s “worse than we thought” mess, and by all of the various manifestations of mannian math and their inevitably sloppy defenses by the team. When people fail to act with basic competence, the public is justified in wondering whether other elements of their work may suffer from similar failures.

      • Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 10:56 PM | Permalink

        ‘…might I propose a fee a bit higher…’ (Acton). Doesn’t sound like Acton was aware of the poor state of UEA funding as he happily negotiated the fee upward, does it? And once this negotiating tour de force was done, Sir Muir simply applied his usual x10 multiplier, and the rest is, well, the embarrassingly thin whitewash that Boulton cooked up.

        It will be interesting to see which whitewash will be considered the more cost efficient and effective by the scientific integrity historians of the future: Oxburgh’s or Russell’s?

    • Mark F
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

      Of course it doesn’t prove or disprove global warming, but the information being so tenaciously held in contempt of FOI requests just might do so. Why else would so many people risk so much?

    • pete m
      Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

      Objective 1 – to show the inquiry was not independent, as loudly trumpted by your favourite blogs.

      Objective 2 – to show the inquiry spent more time and money on not investigating their remit, but rather on how to avoid doing so.

      Objective 3 – to show the UEA was complicit in the above.

      Objective 4 – to teach them all a lesson so it never happens again!

      ps objective 4 is the crux to it all.

      They broke the law on FOI.

      They committed scientific malfeasance which is contributing to governments worldwide imposing taxes and changing policies that harm their economies and their citizens.

      And you are worried over the already paid up salary of an FOI officer being occupied by a few more requests? Shame on you.

      • Posted Mar 2, 2011 at 1:42 AM | Permalink

        TFP has no reply when you actually answer him. Funny how that works.

    • steven mosher
      Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (Feb 28 19:32), why did Jones ask to have mails deleted?

  28. JimB
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

    TheFordPrefect: Back from touring the galaxy?

    Consider: The costs are principally due to UEA intransigence. instead of asking what McIntyre et al are seeking, ask what in hell UEA is trying so desperately to hide.

  29. AusieDan
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

    I really do not see what you people are going on about.
    The management of this contract/ agreement / public appointment / wigwam has been properly managed according to the best principles and practices of the AGW Cult, which as you all well know are pure, blameless and as white as the drive (woops but snow is a long lost memory now, ain’t it?).

    And Ford Prefect, I’m with you in the sense that i’m not, if you get my drift.
    I can see why you chose your nom de mom de mom.
    I well remember the small car which you have chosen to identify with.
    Truly the best car on the road in my youth, except for all the others.

    Oh and yes / sarc off
    I’ll leave it to you to guess which parts are on and which are off and which are only truely off.

  30. DEEBEE
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    C’mon — he is saying that they have already spent too much, do not make them spend more. Obliquely like the clemency plea of an orphan who killed his parents. Except in this case the plea is coming from the perfect small car

  31. Julian
    Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    Finally something that makes sense.

    An inquiry that seems to be a whitewash, is exactly that, for the simple reason that it was bought and paid for.

  32. Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 2:47 AM | Permalink

    I think there is some confusion on this thread between what is a public body:
    a) for the purposes of the FOI Act
    b) for the purposes of appointments.

    While I don’t know anything about appointments, the FOI Act defines “public body” within the terms of the Act rather than by reference to an overarching definition elsewhere. The definition used is therefore likely to be different to the definition used for appointments commissions and the like.

  33. MangoChutney
    Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 2:48 AM | Permalink

    I think the appointment would be a consultant appointment. UEA would have to comply with their own procurement rules which would cover appointment of consultants.

    UEA procurement procedures are here:

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/fin/purchasing/procpolicy

    9. Spending Units must consult with the Purchasing Office on any purchase (or grouping of similar purchases) where the estimated value (excluding VAT) is £20,000 or more. Such consultation is intended to agree the method of procurement, tender list, conditions of contract and criteria for appraisal of tenders.

    10. The University’s policy is unequivocally in favour of competitive tender as the best means of achieving value for money. However, the cost of tendering needs to be considered against the potential savings. For this reason the following thresholds will apply:-
    (a) Sealed bid tender procedures will apply to all purchases where the estimated value (excluding VAT)is £20,000 or more;
    (b) Quotes will be obtained in the case of purchases where the estimated value (excluding VAT) is between £5,000 and £20,000.
    11. In the case of purchases that exceed the EU Thresholds¹, the Spending Unit concerned shall liaise with the Purchasing Office in sufficient time to ensure compliance with the EU Regulations.

    The £147K spent on fees is just below the EU threshold

    /Mango

    • MangoChutney
      Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

      Also there must be a purchase order, which would have terms and conditions, otherwise they aer breaking their own rules

      /Mango

      • Al Gored
        Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

        Hey Mango,

        How do you suppose Richard Black is going to spin this?

        • MangoChutney
          Posted Mar 2, 2011 at 2:35 AM | Permalink

          Richard Black will just ignore anything that is an inconvienent truth

          /Mango

        • MangoChutney
          Posted Mar 2, 2011 at 2:39 AM | Permalink

          and the annoying thing about Richard is he often writes really good stuff about the environment and conservation, but completely loses his head when it comes to AGW and he never fails to follow the party line

          /Mango

  34. Snotrocket
    Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    I have written the following to my MP:

    “It has come to my notice that the ‘independent’ inquiry into the UEA CRU (following ‘climategate’) carried out by Muir Russell was actually paid for
    BY the UEA. Muir Russell was contracted for the sum of £40k plus expenses, accommodation and admin support. In fact, the amount paid by UEA for the Muir Russell’s inquiry was £300,000. do you think this constitutes ‘independence’?

    “Furthermore, the UEA is now refusing legitimate requests for information under the FOIA. Perhaps they are stalling so that they can exceed the statute of limitations of six months on FOI requests, as they did during the ‘climategate’ controversy.

    “Your thoughts, and reactions to this would be most welcome. I would also like to know if you intend to raise this with your fellow MP for Norwich South, Simon Wright.”

  35. Brownedoff
    Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    The law firms are:-

    Olswang LLP and Taylor Wessing

    (see bottom of page 9 of http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/49914/response/127907/attach/3/Response%20letter%20Holland%20112%20101119x.pdf)

    —————–
    Olswang LLP (see http://tinyurl.com/ye5lpu2)

    Olswang is a leading business law firm with a distinctive approach. Our pioneering and problem-solving ethos has established a commanding reputation in the technology, media and real estate sectors, as well as a wide range of other industries.
    —————–

    Taylor Wessing (see http://tinyurl.com/5thp3lg)

    Our aim is to be at the forefront of developing those solutions by serving clients in the sectors that we believe are the industries of tomorrow:

    Technology, Communications and Brands
    Life Sciences and Healthcare
    Real Estate and Infrastructure
    Energy and Environment
    Financial Institutions and Services
    ————————

  36. Al Gored
    Posted Mar 1, 2011 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

    Well, one could say that this is ‘worse than we thought,’ except it is was predictable for this whitewash.

    Congratulations on digging it out of that muck.

    Prepare for another whitewash to whitewash this.

    • Posted Mar 6, 2011 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

      Yes, Al Gored, there is no shortage of public funds for whitewash to cover the misdeeds of “public servants.”

  37. Paintitblack
    Posted Mar 6, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    So you guys think it’s a whitewash because UEA paid someone to carry out the enquiry> What would make you happy? That someone did it for free? Or that they used a staff member?

    • Punksta
      Posted Mar 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

      Not only did UEA pay, they also chose the stooges who would ‘investigate’.

      What is needed is an independent investigation, something competely beyond the UEA’s control. Like a judicial enquiry.

      • Posted Mar 6, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

        No. It’s a whitewash because they utterly failed to do what they set out to do. It almost seems as if they were paid to fail.

    • John M
      Posted Mar 6, 2011 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

      You must have an interesting take on all that drug research funded by “Big Pharma”.

10 Trackbacks

  1. […] mellan UEA och David Holland angående ”The Independent Climate Change Email review” här. Än så länge har UEA inte lämnat ut sin fullständiga överenskommelse med ordföranden för […]

  2. […] McIntryre is continuing his pressure on the University of East Anglia on the Muir Russell inquiry. The University are trying to suggest […]

  3. By The Muir Russell ?Contract? « Bee Auditor on Mar 16, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    […] Source: http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/28/the-muir-russell-contract/ […]

  4. […] I had suspicions before, after reviewing these two posts on “contract” and “expenses” for the Oxburgh report at CA,  followed by Bishop Hill’s […]

  5. By Anonymous on Apr 24, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    […] […]

  6. By The Telegraph s**t stirring again on Apr 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    […] […]

  7. By Mutual Fingerpointing « Climate Audit on May 5, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    […] from the University of East Anglia on their contract with Muir Russell, they refused (see CA here) The University does not consider that there was a contractual relationship with Sir Muir Russell […]

  8. […] When David Holland sought information from the University of East Anglia on their contract with Muir Russell, they refused (see CA here)… […]

  9. […] this case, the original request from David Holland in December 2010 (see CA post here) was for the documents, that “in the view of the University, comprises the contractual basis […]

  10. […] a contract with Muir Russell; instead, Muir Russell was a “public appointment”. I did a blog post two years ago in which I raised questions about the veracity of UEA’s answer. The issue is at […]

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