The UK Government Tricks the SciTech Committee

Bishop Hill reports that the UK government response to the SciTech Committee is now online here.

The UK government submission “tricked” (TM- climate science) the SciTech Committee with untrue and/or deceptive assertions that the Muir Russell and Oxburgh reports were carried out ‘independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out.';

The ICCER [Muir Russell] and SAP [Oxburgh] were carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out.

Information obtained through FOI shows that John Beddington, the UK Government Chief Scientist was in direct contact with both UEA officials and even individual panelists, making sure, among other thing, that individual panelists were ‘warmed up”. Contrary to the UK Government’s claim that the panels were independent, one email from a UEA official says that they will keep Beddington “in the loop” and “seek his advice”. Contrary to the Government’s claims, the Muir Russell and Oxburgh panels were not “carried out independently” and the Government had an important role in “informing how these reviews were carried out”.

Here is a chronology of presently known contacts.

in response to Andrew Montford’s FOI request about Beddington’s activities, BIS stated that Beddington’s first documented contact was “a letter dated 23 December 2009 from Prof Trevor Davies informing Sir John Beddington of incidents at the Climate Research Unit and the steps being taken by the University in response”.

However, the minutes of a Dec 18, 2009 betweeen Muir Russell and UEA officials (including Trevor Davies) stated:

John Beddington has suggested that there could be a side investigation which looks at the science, in more detail than the Independent Review’s terms of reference. John Beddington has indicated he would be happy to be involved.

So presumably Beddington was in contact with UEA (probably Trevor Davies) prior to the first acknowledged date (Dec 23). The minutes of this meeting continue:

MR will want to talk to Watson and Beddington and maybe others. Will need to see
where the investigation leads.

The UK government did not disclose any documents pertaining to the contemplated discussions between Muir Russell and Beddington and/or Watson (also a senior government official.) In the minutes of the Jan 12, 2010 meeting of the Muir Russell panel (not published until after the panel reported), Muir Russell stated that he talked to Beddington on Jan 8, 2010 (also referring to an otherwise undisclosed discussion between Beddington and Trevor Davies):

MR updated the Team on two matters that had arisen on his exploratory meetings
at UEA on 18 December 2009:

First, his conversation with Sir John Beddington, on Friday 8 January. This had clarified what Sir John had in mind in terms of a “side investigation”. It appeared that, following a conversation with Trevor Davies, Pro VC at UEA and a former head of CRU, Sir John saw advantage in an exercise to look at the CRU work without the “adjustments” to data, of which much had been made by critics. This would test whether the adjustments made any significant difference to the conclusions – Sir John’s expectation as advised by Professor Davies was that they would not, which in their view would be helpful in responding to criticisms. The proposal was that a separate sub-group of respected statisticians would be invited by the Review Team to carry out this work.

Beddington’s suggestions here had an important impact on diverting the Muir Russell panel from the actual content of the Climategate emails. 99% of the Climategate emails are about proxy reconstructions – CRUTEM is mentioned on only a couple of occasions. I had stated that I thought that CRU’s secrecy was to protect the fact that their own “value added” to GHCN data was negligible, that their quality control was negligible and that it appeared that CRU did only a trivial averaging of GHCN data with some other data mixed in. CRU adjustments had not been a major or even minor issue at Climate Audit, perhaps the prominent critical site. My issues with CRU pertained to proxy reconstructions. But even though CRUTEM was barely mentioned in the Climategate dossier, Beddington’s influence on Muir Russell was such that this exercise (peripheral to the Climategate dossier) became a major focus of the Muir Russell panel, while important proxy issues were ignored.

The January 12 minutes state that Geoffrey Boulton would follow up with Beddington.

GB to speak to Sir John Beddington about the Team’s conclusions on his suggestion

Neither the Beddington FOI nor the Muir Russell minutes refer to these follow-up discussions. However, as noted above, the Muir Russell panel complied with Beddington’s request.

On Feb 10, Trevor Davies emailed Beddington as shown below, saying that he “will keep [Beddington] in the loop and seek [Beddington’s] advice.’

Muir Russell is launching the Independent Review tomorrow. Our understanding is that he will state definitively that he will not be reviewing the ‘science’. Given the time which has elapsed since we instigated the Review (Dec 3) and other events, we are of the view that there should be as rapid as possible scientific assessment of key CRU publications. There has been discussion between the Royal Soc (Martin Rees, brian Hoskins), UEA (me, Peter Liss) and Alan Thorpe [NERC]. Initially we were hoping that the Royal Soc would undertake this, but Martin feels it more appropriate that the Soc helps us identify people with the appropriate standing, independence etc. We plan on issuing a statement to this effect tomorrow, Muir Russell has agreed.

It is difficult to say anything about the time-scale until the assessors have been appointed but we want this to be done as quickly as possible. Will keep you in the loop and seek your advice.
Best, Trevor

Beddington responded the next day, suggesting a telephone conversation the following week and observing that it is important for the Science Appraisal Panel to have a chairman ‘seen as independent’. Again, this email was not disclosed by the Government, only by UEA.

Trevor, thanks for this. I am currently in India, back next week and there may be merit in speaking on the telephone when I return. I think that it is important that UEA indicates that this decision relates to the science and is complementary to Muir Russell. It will be very important to have a Chair for such a review who would be seen as independent. I will ponder this, the choice of experts is rather more straightforward.
Best wishes,. John

A few days later, Beddington suggested Oxburgh as chairman of the Science Appraisal Panel. No email containing the suggestion was provided by either UEA or the Government, but a Mar 4 email from Davies to Beddington thanks Beddington for suggesting Oxburgh. According to Oxburgh’s evidence to the SciTech Committee, he met with UEA officials in February and did not agree to carry out the science appraisal that the UEA had already announced – instead agreeing only to examine the integrity issues already supposedly being addressed by Muir Russell by examining eleven publications selected by Trevor Davies based on CRU’s brief to the SciTech Committee, a brief in which CRU had tried to place itself in the most favorable light. (Oxburgh, as CA readers know, later claimed that the eleven publications had been selected by the Royal Society, even though they had been selected by Trevor Davies.)

On March 1, Beddington gave oral and written testimony at the SciTech Committee, assuring them that there was also going to be a science inquiry:

Professor Beddington: I would certainly comment that the terms of reference give the opportunity to investigate this in depth and I understand, as I indicated in my written comments to you, that I understood they were also going to supplement the Muir Russell Inquiry into some of the key scientific papers. I do not know whether the Vice Chancellor has shared that with you.

Q200 Chairman: He has said that this afternoon.

Professor Beddington: He has explained that to you. Well, taken together, I think that is an extremely comprehensive inquiry.

On March 4, 2010, Davies again emailed Beddington, attaching the draft invitation to Oxburgh panelists and the eleven publications later said to have been selected by the Royal Society. Again this was in the UEA FOI, but not disclosed in the Government FOI. in the email, Davies asks Beddington to ‘warm up’ David Hand, a panelist that Beddington had suggested (no document containing this suggestion was provided under either FOI though presumably there is one):

From Trevor Davies
To: Beddington
Re CRU Science Assessment Panel
Dear John
As you know Ron Oxburgh has agreed to do this. Thank you for the intial suggestion! He has cleared April 6/7/8 in his diary for a 2-day session at UEA, and anticipates writing the report on the last day.
We have a list of 12/13 names, approved by the Royal Soc, covering a range of interests and “attitudes” toward global warming. Ron has decided the first we should approach for his panel of 6-7 are (xxxxxx- expurgated- xxxxx

Michael Kelly; Herbert Huppert mathematician Cambridge, David Hand FBA Imperial; Kerry Emanual meteorologist MIT, Huw Davies ETH Zurich; Lisa Graumluich, tre ring analyst Univ Arizona
Ron is keen that they are “warmed up” by influential people rather than us inviting them cold. Martin Rees is asking Ralph Cicerone (President NAS) to approach the Americans, Brian Hoskins will approach Huw Davies, Ron himself is talking to Kelly and Huppert.

I wonder if you would be prepared to “warm up” David Hand – on the basis that you know him and you suggested him!

We are most keen, if at all possible, that we can hit the April 6/7/8 window and I’m sure you will be very persuasive in convincing him that this is an important job for science, etc.

For background I attach 1) a draft letter which will be sent to David by Ron 2) a list of the papers we anticipate will be examined
David’s contact details are …
If you are able to help, I will be very grateful.
Best, Trevor

On March 8, Beddington had a phone conversation with Davies (referred to in an email the next day.) On Mar 9, Beddington emailed Davies, copying another Government official, saying that Hand had been “warmed up”.

From _Beddingoton
To – Trevor Davies;
Cc: Nick Grout BIS GO – Science

Following your phone conversation last night, John wanted to let you know that he has spoken to David Hand, who was in agreement with John’s suggestions (and therefore has been “warmed up”)
DELETED
Private Secretary to John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser

On March 22, Oxburgh panelist Michael Kelly distributed notes to other panelists raising serious questions about CRU). That evening, Beddington met with Oxburgh, saying in an email to Davies the following day that “knowing him [Oxburgh], he will certainly make it work.” In the same email to Davies on Mar 23, Beddington re-assured Davies that he had talked to Kelly and made sure that Kelly ‘understood the absolute need for objectivity particularly given his known stance’. (The precise timing of Beddington’s discussion with Kelly resulting in his report that Kelly “understood” things is not known from available documents.) Beddington’s Mar 29 email to Davies stated:

Trevor, thanks for the information on the announcements, which all looks to be going well. As it happens, I met Ron Oxburgh last night and he duly moaned at me putting his name into the frame, but my distinct impression was that he was rather pleased. Knowing him, he will certainly make it work.

You may know that I also talked to Michael Kelly who was very positive and understood the absolute need for objectivity particularly given his known stance.

I hope this is going to work out, but we have the right team so it should have every opportunity,
Best wishes, John

On April 14, following publication of the few pages of the Oxburgh report, Beddington congratulated Oxburgh on a “blinder played”. Beddington referred to a previous discussion at the House of Lords (perhaps the March 22 meeting mentioned to Davies). Beddington said that the next time “drinks” would be on him. (Oxburgh, by the way, is chairman of Falck Renewables, a large wind firm, whose profitability is dependent on government subsidies of wind energy.)

Dear Ron, much appreciated the hard work put into the review, general view is a blinder played. As we discussed at HoL, clearly the drinks are on me!
Best wishes, John

In a May 19 response to Andrew Montford’s FOI request, the UK Government conceded that Beddington had proposed Oxburgh and Hand, and had “encouraged” these candidates to participate:

The appointment process and selection conducted by UEA was informed by advice from the Royal Society, to ensure appropriate rigour, expertise and objectivity.

As part of proper practice, in putting together a high quality panel the UEA leadership also took soundings on potential members, including candidates for the role of chair, from senior figures in the scientific community. As the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Beddington was one of those consulted. Professor Beddington offered two names of possible candidates to lead the Review, one of which was Lord Oxburgh.

He also proposed the inclusion of Prof David Hands, President of the Royal Statistical Society, as someone well qualified to contribute.

In addition, at UEA’s subsequent request, Prof Beddington provided his good offices to encourage these candidates to give positive consideration to an approach by UEA.

Copies of two email exchanges are enclosed, related to these points. [these are the Mar9 and Mar 23 emails] <> <>

As shown above, the UK government’s evidence to the SciTech Committee – presumably drafted or approved by Beddington – that Muir Russell and Oxburgh were both “carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out” was untrue. Beddington was in frequent and direct contact with UEA’s Trevor Davies, whose office coordinated the “inquiries.” Beddington sidetracked the Muir Russell inquiry into an analysis of CRUTEMP temperature data that did not respond to actual criticisms from leading critics. Beddington nominated Oxburgh as Chairman, “warmed up” David Hand (and perhaps others). Beddington also had private discussions with Oxburgh and potentially refractory panelist Michael Kelly, ensuring that Kelly “understood” things. Beddington even entered into some sort of bet with Oxburgh about the inquiries, conceding that he lost the bet to Oxburgh in a “blinder” well played.

The UK government stated last year that there was nothing improper in Beddington’s contacts with UEA or the panelists. Perhaps so, perhaps not. If the government’s objective was that the inquiries be “independent”, then Beddington’s involvement with individual panelists seems very injudicious, to say the least. Be that as it may, given Beddington’s extensive involvement with both UEA and individual panelists, the Government’s evidence to the SciTech Committee – that “the ICCER [Muir Russell] and SAP [Oxburgh] were carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out” – was untrue and/or deceptive.

48 Comments

  1. per
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    nice coverage

    Not sure i follow the logic about a bet being lost/ won. “Playing a blinder” simply means to do a good job, so no significance there. Saying “the drinks are on me” may simply be camaraderie, meaning that I will buy you a drink. I don’t see where the idea of winning a bet comes from.

    per

    Steve – could be. I might be reading Canadian repartee into it. I’ve amended the comment, removing the speculation about the bet in light of your comment.

    • Posted May 9, 2011 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

      if you read other peoples “private” emails you must expect many colloquilisms

      Does

      “I could murder a pint”
      “Eee by gum it’s a bit parky today”
      “that’s a bog standard rainfall for summer”
      “The indian was in the central reservation”
      “use mikes’s nature trick”

      Mean exactly what they say?

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 9, 2011 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

        This was not a private email. It was an email by a government official in the course of his employment to the leader of an inquiry.

      • Dave Andrews
        Posted May 9, 2011 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

        Ford,

        You must be so much an ‘insider’ that you cannot even see that these emails show the old boys network circling the wagons to get the result they want.

      • Graeme
        Posted May 9, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

        Ford prefect

        In my world, those idioms mean just what you said…I could murder a pint just now

      • David, UK
        Posted May 21, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

        @ Ford:

        Of course colloquialisms don’t mean “exactly what they say,” and nothing in the above post suggests otherwise. You couldn’t be further from missing the point if you tried wilfully to do so. For example, no one here is suggesting that to “warm up” a person is to be interpreted as giving them a hot mug of cocoa and sitting them down by a log fire. I think we all know exactly what it really means, don’t we Ford?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

      Re: per (May 9 12:55),

      another objectionable aspect of Beddington asking Oxburgh to do a favor for him (chairing the UEA “inquiry”) is that Oxburgh is a director of a big wind energy firm (Falck) that is highly dependent on favorable government subsidies and now Beddington owes Oxburgh a favor.

    • simon abingdon
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

      To me “playing a blinder” implies a successful deception. Laudable on the football field; quite unacceptable in this context. Why/what were they “playing”?

  2. JCM
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    How very British.
    A bankrupt nation in so many ways. Now people will understand why there was a brain drain from the UK for so many years; just look at what was left behind.

    • David S
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

      How very unnecessary (or is it just bitter?). Please try to be more thoughtful than to write off an entire nation because of misbehaviour among the Establishment – it is pretty common elsewhere, as our US, Canadian and Australian friends can testify.

      • JCM
        Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

        David – I have read this blog since well before the UEA emails entered the public realm and my comment, not bitter, reflects the unsavoury events so well documented by SM. Why would any ambitious researcher or scientist wish to remain in an environment where dissembling and determination to avoid scrutiny of important work is so well entrenched ? In my view this has gone far beyond the Establishment.
        On May 23 the SciTech Cttee meets to hear presentations re Peer Review and a brief from http://f1000.com/ may well be of interest.

        • pesadia
          Posted May 11, 2011 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

          I reluctantly agree with your entire comment. It is a very sad state of affairs.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

      JCM,

      Wrong word. Not just ‘British’ but establishment everywhere.

  3. Steeptown
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    As well as Oxburgh being chairman of Falck Renewables, The prome minister’s father-in-law owns a wind farm in Scotland and the deputy prime minister’s wife (Spanish) works for a Spanish wind company. Wind subsidy corruption extends right to the top of the government in the UK.

    • Steeptown
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

      “prome” = “prime”

      Just in case anyone doubts my statement, see:

      http://www.cawt.co.uk/index.php?mact=CGBlog,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=122&cntnt01returnid=19

      and

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1285328/Miriam-Clegg-conflict-row-taking-job-Spanish-wind-farm-company.html

    • Posted May 9, 2011 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

      Oxburgh mother’s, father’s, cousin twice removed, sons daughter’s husband also owns a field where they want to build a wind turbine. Corruption or what?

      • TerryS
        Posted May 9, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

        Oxburgh mother’s, father’s,

        You mean grandfather.

        cousin twice removed,

        That makes the relation either on the same level as Oxburgh (second, third or fourth cousin) or his Great Great Grandfathers cousin.

        sons daughter’s husband

        Since this cousin has grandchildren old enough to marry it probably safe to assume you are talking about his Great Great Grandfather’s cousin’s granddaughter’s husband. This makes it Oxburgh’s fifth cousins husband who owns the land.

        Now for some calculations.
        The shared ancestor is his Great Great Great Great Grandfather. Assuming there is no intermarrying you have 32 sets (Grandfather and Grandmother) of this ancestor. Assuming each of these sets begot 3 children, who in turn begot 3 children etc, then you have 32 * 3^7 fifth cousins or 69984 of them.

        You are seriously equating an in-law and a wife with a fifth cousin’s husband?

  4. Posted May 9, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    A brilliant account, Steve, thank you again, on behalf of the UK voter and taxpayer, that you care a great deal more than all the Beddingtons, Oxburghs, Boultons and Russells put together about truth and trust. The diversion by Beddington of the Russell inquiry away from all the questions about proxy reconstructions to CRUTEMP was colossal folly. Incompetence or worse, you’ve laid it out for all to see.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

      Thank you from another grateful UK’ian.

  5. Dishman
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    Sitting back and looking at it, I believe “HARRY_READ_ME” would be a reason to look at CRUTEM.

    I don’t, however, recall seeing any discussion of it by the panels. Maybe I’m just lazy.

  6. Stacey
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    It is very clear that warming up a person means just that. Placing said person in an office and ensuring the temperature settings are correct.

    Any suggestion that warming up a person would be to try to influence them, get them on your side or corrupt them would be an absolutely absurd suggestion.

    By the way I’ve lost the fairies at the bottom of my garden, please can anybody help?

    • JohnH
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 4:25 AM | Permalink

      For 20 gallons of whitewash you can have the purple one back ;)

  7. Posted May 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    It appeared that, following a conversation with Trevor Davies, Pro VC at UEA and a former head of CRU, Sir John saw advantage in an exercise to look at the CRU work without the “adjustments” to data, of which much had been made by critics. This would test whether the adjustments made any significant difference to the conclusions – Sir John’s expectation as advised by Professor Davies was that they would not , which in their view would be helpful in responding to criticisms.

    So CRU acknowledges that the unadjusted data is unsuitable for climate analysis and refers users to Jones’ adjusted CRU data instead. And folks at CRU expect that the adjustments don’t have much effect, as indeed the Muir Russell panel confirmed. The obvious conclusion is that the adjusted CRU data are suitable for climate analysis.

    Any other questions?

    • matthu
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

      Did you mean to say “The obvious conclusion is that the adjusted CRU data are unsuitable for climate analysis.”?

      • Posted May 9, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Permalink

        I was being facetious.

        • matthu
          Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:32 AM | Permalink

          Sorry! I realised afterwards.

    • steven mosher
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:12 AM | Permalink

      There is a similiar illogical chain. FOIA regulations require that CRU must show that any confidential data they use is necessary to their mission. Any yet, they defend there use of confidential data by showing that it gives the same answer as open data. Which means, of course, that its not necessary. weird.

  8. John T
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 8:18 PM | Permalink

    I don’t care how many panels and investigations weigh in. There’s one way and one way only to vindicate the science/scientists. The data and methods have to be subjected to the same public scrutiny as all “accepted” science. Until then its only hearsay.

    No court I know of would simply accept a statement that the evidence exists, and that it shows what the party says it shows. They’d demand the evidence be presented before the court. The same is true for science.

  9. Posted May 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

    Apparently Beddington learned his repartee from the 1980s UK TV shows ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and ‘Minder’ (as in ‘played a blinder’ and ‘the drinks are on me’). Both shows focus on the comic escapades of petty con artists.

    • Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

      So it’s Rod, ie Rodney Oxburgh, not Ron at all. It explains a lot.

  10. Paul_K
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

    “The ICCER [Muir Russell] and SAP [Oxburgh] were carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out.”

    Although the whole process reeks of subtle and not-so-subtle intervention by the establishment, the above statement is probably legally factual, and may even be de facto truthful.
    John Beddington’s full title is “the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor” or GCSA for short. Each UK ministry (Department) has its own CSA. Whereas the Departmental CSA’s are full-time civil servants with defined executive powers and management responsibilities, the GCSA is typically a cabinet appointee with no defined management responsibilities or executive power. His role is to provide “independent external” advice to the PM and the Cabinet on scientific matters as well as ad hoc advice to other UK Government Departments.
    If John Beddington intervened entirely on his own initiative, then the above statement, I believe, is legally valid. If, on the other hand, he was given a mandate to represent the government in this – via either a minuted Cabinet discussion or an e-mail/written directive from one of the Cabinet members with appropriate delegated authority – then the Government’s statement above would be untruthful de facto and de jure. Since I doubt that such evidence exists, the statement is, as I said, probably legally factual. If the reality was that he received some post-prandial off-the-record suggestions by one of the Cabinet members with respect to intervention, then the government statement is still legally valid, but factually misleading.

    • DaveS
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

      “If John Beddington intervened entirely on his own initiative…”

      In which case, presumably, there would be no record of any contact between Beddington and any government minister or civil servant relating to any of the reviews between Dec 2009 and whenever the reviews were published (I forget the exact timing). Could an FOI be framed to test for the (non-)existence of any such correspondence?

      • Paul_K
        Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

        DaveS,
        You could try framing such a request but the chances of success would, I suspect, be very low. Cabinet minutes are privileged and subject to ministerial veto. In October 2010, some Cabinet minutes were released for the very first (and I believe, the only) time in response to a FOI request. The minutes related to a 1986 meeting!

        If you do want to pursue it, there is a special Cabinet team for dealing with FOI requests, or you could try raising the constitutional issue directly with the Ministry of Justice, which has direct responsibility for implementation of the UK FOI.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

      From the Government’s May 19th response to Andrew Montford’s FOI : “As the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Beddington was one of those consulted.”

      Which seems to imply that, as the Government saw it, Beddington was consulted in his role as GCSA.

      Steve; the idea that beddington was acting in a ‘private’ capacity is absurd (and not one that beddington himself has used). this observation should put an end to this line of speculation.

      • Paul_K
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

        One universe,
        It is not absurd from a legal perspective. There is a big difference between someone being consulted and someone being mandated to act as an agent. I was hoping to refer you to the 2007 CoPSAC document that summarised the GSCA’s roles and responsibilities, but for some strange reason the internet reference to the document does not seem to be working
        To be clear, I am not suggesting that the fact that the government’s statement may be, and probably is, legally defensible makes everything OK.

        • oneuniverse
          Posted May 17, 2011 at 7:03 AM | Permalink

          Paul,

          The CoPSAC 2007 document is mis-linked or missing from the archived BIS page, but I think I found a copy(?), Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees (Dec. 2007). Quoting from it :

          Government Office for Science
          The GCSA (Government Chief Scientific Adviser) and Head of the Government Office for Science is responsible for:
          • Providing scientific advice personally to the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet (in consultation with Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers when appropriate);
          • Advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet on aspects of Government policy on science and technology;
          • Ensuring and improving the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in Government;
          • Leading the science and engineering profession within the Civil Service.

          The archived BIS page refers to paragraphs 2.2 – 2.7 of CoPSAC 2007, but it seems they’re actually referring to the document Science & Engineering in Government – An Overview of the Government’s Approach. Quoting from it (paragraphs 2.4 – 2.10 contain a description of the GCSA’s roles and responsibilities) :

          2.7 The GCSA:
          • provides scientific advice personally to the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet;
          • assures and further improves the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in government;
          • leads the science and engineering profession within the Civil Service – the GCSA is the Head of Science and Engineering Profession (HoSEP);
          • engages other countries and international organisations on science and engineering to help achieve UK objectives; and
          • works to strengthen the interactions between research communities and policy makers.

          Note that along with his or her duties to the the PM & Cabinet, the GCSA is the head of the science and enginineering professions in the Civil Service.

          By my layman’s understanding, a consultation with Beddington in his role as GCSA is a consultation with a member of the Government, and any advice provided by Beddington in his role as GCSA is advice provided by the HoSEP.

          If the statement had been that the reviews were carried out independently of the Cabinet, then I’d agree it would seem defensible, but as it stands the Government’s statements above, in response to the FOI and to the SciTech committee, appear to be inconsistent with each other.

        • oneuniverse
          Posted May 17, 2011 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

          Paul, I’ve written a response @ May 17, 2011 at 7:03 AM, still in moderation.

          I should also have added – the final bolded paragraph (containing “the idea that beddington was acting in a ‘private’ capacity is absurd”) to which you responded was Steve’s inline comment.

  11. Paul_K
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

    I might have added to the above that the possibility that Beddington intervened in the enquiry processes entirely on his own initiative should not be lightly dismissed given his background and stance on climate change.

    From John Beddington’s official short bio (Source: Govt Office for Science):-

    “Throughout 2008 and 2009 Sir John raised the concept of the “Perfect Storm” of food, energy and water security in the context of climate change, gaining considerable media attention and raising this as a priority in the UK and internationally.”

    And from a recent speech (same source):-
    “Another crucial part of my role is to work with Ministers, the scientific community and the media to ensure that the scientific method, risk and uncertainty are understood by the public. This is especially important at present given the misunderstandings around climate change.”

  12. kim
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

    The sun has risen,
    British policy cock crows.
    Cabinet ar’t work.
    ===========

  13. Alexander K
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    So much for the oft-quoted ‘cleared by public enquiries’. It is becoming manifestly obvious that the so-called enquiries were anything but enquiries and the good ‘ole boys of the Brit establishment under discussion are not just vain, arrogant,and dishonest, they are rotten to the core. snip

  14. peter dunford
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    Amid all these references to the scientific assessment panel, lets not forget he admitted to SM that his review did not investigate the science. I don’t think the committee have grasped that fully
    .

  15. Chris
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:26 AM | Permalink

    Irony.

    You have a series of emails written by a group of scientists which to the bystander suggest that they are attempting to affect the scientific process in such a way that only their views are published and any dissenting ones are suppressed.

    The leakage of these emails triggers the need for an enquiry.

    You then have a series of emails written by a those organising the enquiry which to the bystander suggest that they are attempting to affect the enquiry outcomes in such a way that the original group are exonerated without too much scrutiny.

    Did the second group not learn from the first ? And these are intelligent people ?

  16. johanna
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Yep, “playing a blinder’ just means performing well. It’s a dead-end for practical purposes.

    Having worked in government for quite a while, I suggest that it is perhaps a distraction to look for conspiracies, collusion, corruption and links between. The processes are a much more subtle form of groupthink. Nothing needs to be said, or written down. Everyone is ‘on the same page’. This is the case for the vast majority of things that happen in government, without comment or criticism.

    I have the greatest respect for you and the work that you are doing. But wearing out tiresome opponents who are convinced of conspiracy theories is an ancient and well-honed skill in bureaucracies. These skills are often extended to those who have legitimate claims, such as you.

    There is no end to the rabbit-holes that can be created for you to spend time and effort in investigating.

    Unless you have a smoking gun, your extraordinary ability and credibility would surely be better utilised in exposing the lies and chicanery that underlie the decisions that are costing billions of euros/dollars a year to ordinary punters.

    Your last post is about chasing chimera. Nothing will ever be proved, and few people outside the intenserati of climate politics will care.

    I hope that you will take these comments in the constructive way that they are intended. It just seems a shame to see thousands of bureaucrats sidetracking you when there is more important work to be done.

  17. Don Keiller
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    I was speaking to a Member of Parliament (MP) yesterday about “Climategate”.
    He told me that the problem was that most MPs are not scientists and had “bought into” AGW.
    They saw UEA as the “good guys” who had made a mistake and needed to be helped out.

    Explains much.

  18. P. Solar
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    UEA’s FOI refusal to Holland stated:

    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).

    Of course this cannot be proven to be a lie because they are not making a clear statement of fact they are stating what they “consider”, an opinion. (Thanks to their “brief” for the legal get-out language trick).

    The other point to consider is that SIR Muir Russel and LORD Oxburgh are members of the House of Lords: the upper chamber of the Houses of Parliament.

    Now while Her Majesty’s Government or “the Government” is a subset of Parliament , it is Parliament as a whole that creates and passes laws and hence governs the UK, not HMG. To say peers are independent of Government is simply playing with words.

    It’s comparable to saying senators in the U.S. are not part of government.

    • Louise
      Posted May 13, 2011 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

      Sir Muir Russell is NOT a Peer, Lord, member of the House of Lords, member of the Upper House or any other way a member of the geovernment.

      The title Sir does not entitle anyone to become a member of the House of Lords.

3 Trackbacks

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