The Guardian Is “Bemused”

David Leigh of the Guardian has been added to the list of UK journalists who’ve engaged in phone hacking and other illegal/unethical conduct. Some of the more questionable conduct by UK journalists has involved their acquisition of information from police that police were not legally entitled to disclose either for payment or as a favour. David Leigh also had a role in the Empire Strikes Back phase of Climategate early last year and, in today’s post, I’ll discuss the connection.

Leigh’s admission of phone hacking is discussed at Bishop Hill here; Guido Fawkes here. Leigh himself admitted here.

There is certainly a voyeuristic thrill in hearing another person’s private messages…

Leigh differentiated his illegal phone hacking from that practised by News of the World because his cause was noble:

unlike Goodman, I was not interested in witless tittle-tattle about the royal family. I was looking for evidence of bribery and corruption.

Now the Climategate connection.

In February 2010, a couple of months shortly [Mar 7, 2012: subsequent FOI information shows that Wallis placed the Girling article in the Times on Feb 6, 2012] after Neil Wallis of Outside Organisation had been retained by the University of East Anglia to help them strike back against critics, Leigh authored a smear Paul Dennis of the University of East Anglia, entitled:

Detectives question climate change scientist over email leaks: University of East Anglia scientist Paul Dennis denies leaking material, but links to climate change sceptics in US drew him to attention of the investigators

Leigh’s smear began by reporting that Norfolk police had interviewed Paul Dennis (as, presumably, other faculty of the University of East Anglia.) However, Dennis had “refused to sign a petition in support of Jones when the scandal broke”. Furthermore, according to Leigh’s apparently disapproving “university sources”, Dennis was reported to have sent a letter to UEA head of department Jacquie Burgess “calling for more open release of data” – suspicious activity indeed. Dennis had also refused to observe the fatwa against communication with climate blogs that were critical of CRU and the Team and had even sent an article on isotopes to Jeff Id.

Leigh’s article disclosed two pieces of information that were not in the public domain.

First, Leigh “outed” Jeff Id by name, occupation and hometown. To that point, “Jeff Id” had been anonymous. His registration at WordPress was anonymous and his gmail account was anonymous. To Jeff’s knowledge, there was no public information that would enable Leigh to identify him. [Update 2.30 pm: A reader points out that Jeff Id had been publicly identified as Jeff Condon in a blog article on Jan 10, 2011. This does not explain all the facts. David Leigh identifies Id as "Patrick Condon, aeronautical engineer" from Illinois and located his telephone number. In addition, there are 34 Jeff Condons on LinkedIn - how did Leigh get to the right one?]

A few days before the article, Leigh had telephoned Jeff. Jeff asked Leigh how he had located him; Leigh refused to say. Jeff expressly asked Leigh not to disclose his personal information, which were then not on the public record. Leigh disregarded the request and then proceeded to “out” him as collateral damage in their smear of Paul Dennis.

A couple of weeks earlier, Jeff had been asked to answer a questionnaire by the UK counter-terrorism officer investigating the release of the emails and tree ring data. The policeman had contacted Jeff at his gmail address as “Jeff Id”. In addition to inquiring about his views on climate change, the questionnaire asked his name and address. Jeff answered the questionnaire (as did I and many Climate Audit readers). To Jeff’s knowledge and recollection, that was the only disclosure of his identity that could have led to Leigh identifying him. [Update - see above update.]

Leigh’s article also quotes from an email from Paul Dennis to me, which Leigh ascribed to “police files”.

UK police are subject to the Data Protection Act, which prevents the disclosure of personal data for unauthorized purposes -see the webpage of the Norfolk Constabulary on this topic here, which states:

Disclosure or passing of personal information to other organisations or individuals is strictly controlled….

The Police work in partnership with other agencies to reduce crime and disorder, reduce the fear of crime and protect the vulnerable. In order to work together it is necessary to share information. Often this information is about crime figures or areas where crime or disorder is a particular problem. However, sometimes it is necessary to share personal information to tackle a particular problem involving an identified offender or victim. Sometimes information is shared to assist the partner agency in carrying out their lawful functions, but only when it is necessary and proportionate to do so.

Given the recent publicity about illegal and unethical practices by UK journalists, often involving UK police, both Jeff and I obviously wondered about David Leigh’s access to the above information. On July 25, we wrote to Damian Carrington, Environment Editor of the Guardian about the matter. (I had previously corresponded with Carrington in connection with my appearance at the Guardian symposium in July 2010 and was treated very cordially both by Carrington and other Guardian representatives on this well-convened occasion.) The following email was sent prior to the recent publicity of David Leigh’s past history of phone hacking (for causes that he believed to be virtuous):

Dear Mr Carrington,
In case you did not already know, in 2009-2010, Neil Wallis, then of Outside Organisation, acted as consultant to the University of East Anglia because “the university’s Climatic Research Unit wanted Outside to fire back some shots on the scientists’ behalf”. As is now widely known, at the time, Wallis was also then acting as a consultant for the Met Police. I am planning to write some articles on this and would appreciate a comment from you on an article published by the Guardian.

On Feb 5, 2010, the Guardian published an article by David Leigh, Charles Arthur and Rob Evans entitled “Detectives question climate change scientist over email leaks: University of East Anglia scientist Paul Dennis denies leaking material, but links to climate change sceptics in US drew him to attention of the investigators” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/04/climate-change-email-hacking-leaks

In the article, you identify the blogger known as “Jeff Id” as “Patrick Condon, aeronautical engineer from Morris, Illinois”. At the time, to the best of my knowledge and to the best of Condon’s knowledge, there was then no legitimately available information that would have enabled the authors of the Guardian article to identify “Id” as “Patrick Condon, aeronautical engineer from Morris, Illinois”.

The article also includes a quote from an email from Paul Dennis to me, the provenance of which is described in the article as “files obtained by police”.
Can you provide me and Mr Condon with an unequivocal statement that the Guardian did not use illegal or unethical means or accept information obtained illegally or unethically concerning Mr Condon’s identity or the police files referred to in the article. For greater reassurance, could you please describe the legal means by which you obtained Mr Condon’s identity and the excerpt from the police files quoted in the article.

Thank you for your attention.
Yours truly,
Stephen McIntyre,
Climate Audit

The Guardian reported back as follows.

A Guardian spokesperson said:

“I would like to make it absolutely clear that the Guardian did not use illegal or unethical means or accept information obtained obtained illegally or unethically concerning Mr Condon’s identity or the police files referred to in our article. To suggest otherwise would be totally untrue. We can also confirm the information did not come from the UEA or from Neil Wallis, either directly or indirectly.

The statement was obviously carefully worded with the sort of plausible deniability that we’re familiar with from the climate “community”. I replied as follows:

Dear Damian,
I appreciate your prompt response but your answer does not resolve the matter. We had asked you to show the legal means by which you acquired the information and you did not do so. I presume that you are refusing to provide this as opposed to this being an oversight in your response.

We also have a concern over your failure to exclude the police as the source of your information. If you are in a position in which you either can exclude them as a source and are prepared to do so, this would go some way towards re-assuring us. Otherwise, our concern that you obtained the information through use of information obtained illegally or unethically remains unresolved.

We draw your attention to yesterday’s article in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/21/phone-hacking-operation-motorman-files describing many incidents in which information was passed illegally to the media by the police (some involving payment, but, as I understand it, the passing of information can be illegal even without the payment of money.) We note that the Norfolk Constabulary is subject to the Data Protection Act and that their passing Jeff Id’s identity to you, if that is what happened, would not appear to be permitted under the circumstances at hand ( http://www.norfolk.police.uk/aboutus/yourrighttoinformation/dataprotection/frequentlyaskedquestions.aspx ).

In addition, if you did get the information from the police, you will understand our concern over Wallis’ potential indirect involvement, given that Wallis was, at the time, not only consulting for the University of East Anglia, but also consulting for the police and, as I understand, was particularly connected to John Yates, who was in charge of UK counter-terrorism operations (counter-terrorism officers were involved in the investigation) and to Andy Hayman, a former Chief Constable of the Norfolk Constabulary and also much in the news recently.

Accordingly, once again, I ask that you detail how you obtained the information through legal means as well as confirm that you did not obtain the information from police services (who, we believe, could not legally pass the information to you given the circumstances.)

Thanks, Steve Mc

The Guardian replied that they were “utterly bemused” by our concern and re-iterated that “nothing illegal or unethical” was done to obtain the information, again refusing to disclose how they got the information:

I have to say we’re utterly bemused by your questions over this report. To reiterate our very clear statement, nothing illegal or unethical was done to obtain the information.

Of course we can’t give you an account of how we obtained the information – we take protecting our sources very seriously.

If you still believe you have any evidence of wrongdoing, you should give it to the police and the information commissioner.

The Guardian’s repeated refusal to exclude counter-terrorism police as the source of Leigh’s information leaves obvious question marks. We know that the University of East Anglia retained a former News of the World operative with close connections to the police as an agent to strike back against their critics. It’s hardly implausible (though not proven) that police either connected to this operative (or otherwise) might have leaked personal information to the Guardian as part of the UEA’s campaign to strike back at critics. The Guardian purports to be “bemused” at the idea and is indifferent to the disclosure of Jeff Id’s personal information, presumably on grounds similar to those proffered by David Leigh in relation to his phone hacking (where the Guardian apparently condoned illegal conduct if it believed the cause to be virtuous or if they disapproved of the target.)

However, Jeff obviously has a different view. Jeff is not “bemused” by disclosure of personal information against his express wishes, particularly when, in his view, the disclosure of his personal information lacked any legitimate journalistic purpose and when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that personal information had been leaked to the Guardian by the police, that the police violated UK law in disclosing the personal information to the Guardian and that the Guardian knew that the police had violated UK law in giving the information to Leigh (if indeed the police were the source of the information, as it appears.) Nor has Jeff been shown that the police leak (if that is the source) was not connected to the University’s desire to strike back at critics, either via the University’s retention of former News of the World operative Wallis or otherwise. Jeff has written once again to the Guardian. However, as the Guardian observes, it is unlikely that the matter can be resolved without an investigation by the Information Commissioner and doubtless that’s where this file is going as well.


226 Comments

  1. Green Sand
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, many thanks for this article, words fail me, but thankfully they do not fail you.

  2. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

    snip – you’ve linked to a comment AFTER the Guardian article which does not enter into the timeline and is being snipped to avoid distraction. If you have a point in referring to this, please provide it.

  3. Ivan
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Unbelievable! One suggestion, Steve: you could write a shorter and simpler version of this article and publish it in the WSJ or some similar outlet. It would have a far greater impact.

  4. Steven Mosher
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There are only a couple ways to get jeff’s real name.

    1. If they had dennis’ mail to Jeff with full headers then They have Jeff’s IP. Service provider is ATT. If you have a contact ( for journalistic purposes obviously) inside ATT or other service providers who dishes info or if you know some Private Eye trick of the trade you might be able to get the name from the IP.

    2. Contact inside wordpress.

    3. Contact inside the Police, especially counter terrorism.

    • Tom Gray
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

      If you have the Email ID and a contact at the ISP or Email provider then getting the name of the account associaed with that Email address would seem to be quite simple.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The email provider was gmail where jeff was only Jeff Id.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

          Yep. from email all you could get is the IP. From IP all you can get is the location and service provider.

        • ChE
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

          When you open a gmail account, you have to give them another email address. That other email address may also be a free webmail address, but sooner or later that has to lead back to a real popmail address. It may take a lot of effort, but a determined police investigator can and will trace it back to a human identity. So now we’re back to the police again. I can’t imagine all of these providers cooperating with some private dick.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

          Incorrect, from memory. You don’t have to give another email address. (I’ve set up a Gmail account for my mother and others in the last year.) You can link back to another email address but they don’t insist on that.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

          Yep. from email all you could get is the IP. From IP all you can get is the location and service provider.

          These seems to depend on how you send the email.

          I have a gmail account I use only for spam control. If I log into gmail and send myself email from there, my actual IP is not in the first header. Google’s appears.

          If I send from home, my real IP shows. At least that’s what just happened when I did it just 3 minutes ago.

        • ChE
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

          But the question remains, once they have your IP, so what? Without the power of subpoena, they can’t get anything more. And any ISP would be nuts to voluntarily give any personal information over to a reporter or private detective, for fear of legal consequences. YMMV in other countries, though.

          In addition to possible law breaking, it’s possible that someone on the inside of his ISP exposed his employer to lawsuit.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

      As I recall, Jeff was Jeff Id at wordpress.

    • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Number 1 would most likely be illegal.

    • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It was hardly a secret. Here is an article from Andrew Breitbart’s site, Jan 8 2010, lauding the heroes of Climategate:

      ” Remember these names: Steven Mosher, Steve McIntyre, Ross McKitrick, Jeff “Id” Condon, Lucia Liljegren, and Anthony Watts.

      • Venter
        Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

        In case you’re hard of reading, read these two paragraphs again in Steve’s post

        QUOTE

        Leigh’s article disclosed two pieces of information that were not in the public domain.

        First, Leigh “outed” Jeff Id by name, occupation and hometown. To that point, “Jeff Id” had been anonymous. His registration at WordPress was anonymous and his gmail account was anonymous. To Jeff’s knowledge, there was no public information that would enable Leigh to identify him.

        A few days before the article, Leigh had telephoned Jeff. Jeff asked Leigh how he had located him; Leigh refused to say. Jeff expressly asked Leigh not to disclose his personal information, which were then not on the public record. Leigh disregarded the request and then proceeded to “out” him as collateral damage in their smear of Paul Dennis.

        UNQUOTE

        The article you linked to did not specify Jeff ID’s occupation, hometown, phone number etc. Yet, Leigh ” called ” Jeff ID on phone and refused to state how he got the information.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

          Here, two days later, is an article from the same source with all that information – about a page of what Jeff was doinfg that day etc.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

          Well, OK, not the phone number. But he wouldn’t have been hard to track down.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

          except his name is not jeff condon

        • Venter
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

          Spot on, Steven. In his hurry to rush to the defence of any bad practice associated with the team and it’s associates, Nick did not even bother to read Steve’s post. Otherwise he would have seen that Steve has clearly mentioned that Jeff ID’s name is Patrick Condon.

          So Nick, any more lame excuses and implausible defenses?

          Steve: Both Patrick and Jeff are right. Patrick was not on the public record though. However, the fact that Jeff Condon was already known definitely makes it more possible to track him down.

        • Venter
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

          That was my point, Steve. Patrick was not on public record. Nor his name, city and state and phone number. But as per your post, Leigh called Jeff at his phone number, referred to him by the name of Patrick and wrote about his city and state. That sort of information is not obtainable easily or legally.

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

          Steve: Both Patrick and Jeff are right. Patrick was not on the public record though. However, the fact that Jeff Condon was already known definitely makes it more possible to track him down.

          Turns out this is not true. The white pages lists a Jeff as Patrick J. Condon in Morris. It seems people unintentionally list alternate names.

          I was able to find the white pages listing by omitting first name and then entering last name and town here: http://www.whitepages.com/dir/morris-il/condon

          I couldn’t have done this back in January 2010 because I didn’t know Jeff’s last name or town. It seems Bigjournalism had mentioned last name. I’m pretty sure I knew he lived in Illinois, and I would have remembered because I live in Illinois. Knowing the last name, if it was my job to find out who Jeff was, and it was worth devoting roughly an hour, and I was willing to guess and phone all potential candidates, I think I might have ended up calling Jeff and referring to him as Patrick.

          I suspect a newspaper could find this.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

          Lucia, using Condon and Illinois and phoning people is a different approach than Nick Stokes’ workplace suggestion.

          A strong argument against Nick’s suggestion is the fact that the call came to Jeff at home rather than at work. There’s no reason why Leigh would spend a minute’s effort trying to get Jeff’s home number if he had his work number.

          Do we know whether Illinois was publicly known at the time? or the sort of public information that Leigh would have? In any event, while Leigh could have gone through the Illinois Condons to find Jeff, I can’t see why he would go to that trouble for an incidental point in the story. (Plus he indicated his willingness not to print Jeff’s information, but the editor didn’t implement his request.)

          My own surmise remains that Leigh got the information from the police – recall that Leigh referred to “police files” in connection with the dennis email to me. Even if the police violated the Data Protection Act in giving the information to Leigh, as I mentioned in a comment a few minutes ago, it seems to me that the Guardian can use the information under a journalistic exemption.

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

          Steve–
          I agree it’s a different approach. I’m just saying that it turns out Patrick is the name currently on Jeff’s white pages entry.

          I just searched my blog entering “jeff id Illinois”. I find this:
          http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/the-debate-is-over-blago-is-out/#comment-9676

          January 31st, 2009 at 9:12 pm
          lucia,

          I’m also an Illinois resident.

          So, I know I knew Jeff lived in Illinois. I know several of my regular commenters live in Illinois.

          Jeff, I can’t see why he would go to that trouble for an incidental point in the story

          Agreed. I suspect the main thing for Leigh may have been that he wanted to chat Jeff up on the phone to be able to “dig” for more story on Dennis. Turned out there wasn’t much– but that might have been the motivation to find Jeff.

          David may well have gotten this info or other info from the police. I think the UK authorities should be looking into potential breeches of this sort and some things about this event look suspicious. But it’s also possible it will turn out that Leigh didn’t get Jeff’s particulars from the police.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

          Paul Dennis adds the following new information:

          A little later that morning I also received a phone call from the counter terrorism unit apologizing that an article had been published and was there anything they could do to ‘help’. This seemed strange at the time and I thanked them for their concern and said I wasn’t concerned about the article.

          This is definitely further circumstantial evidence that Leigh interviewed the local police and they told him more than they were authorized to.

          Sometimes these discussions are useful. I think that I understand the Guardian’s position quite clearly now and am satisfied with their position. With the benefit of the discussion, I now don’t see any issue in them using information from the police even if it was provided to them illegally. Nor do I see any hypocrisy in the Guardian’s conduct in this affair. Quite the opposite. I’ll write to them and say so.

          After seeing people’s attempts to locate Jeff from public information – and I was really re-thinking this after Nick pointed out that Jeff Condon had already been identified, I’m satisfied that, while someone could have located Jeff with enough diligence, the facts still point overwhelmingly to the police as the source of this information, And no one advancing other alternatives has plausibly explained how Leigh had an excerpt from the Dennis email attributed to “police files” – other than the obvious explanation: that he got it from the police.

          From a puzzle solving perspective – which is generally my interest – I’m satisfied that the information was leaked by the police to the Guardian. I suppose that I could FOI the police about their disclosure, but it’s fairly low priority for me.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

          In doing this review, I was unaware that Jeff Id had already been identified as Jeff Condon. This is definitely relevant information. It doesn’t explain everything – for example, it doesn’t explain how David Leigh was able to quote from the Paul Dennis email attributed to “police files”. The form of identification as “Patrick Condon” remains unexplained. If Leigh’s Ur-document was the cited website, then Leigh would have identified him as Jeff Condon, not as Patrick Condon. So there are unexplained facts still, but also a need to get too excited until we see whether these other matters can be provenanced as well.

        • Bebben
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

          The Guardian replies to you that

          “Of course we can’t give you an account of how we obtained the information – we take protecting our sources very seriously.”

          If their source was a website, why didn’t they simply state so? Surely it isn’t a source that needs protecting.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

          that’s what I think as well. In the Gordon Brown case, where the Guardian had made allegations against the Sun of a phone hack, the parties involved later revealed that the source came from a parent support group – so the source was not protected on that occasion.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

          It is difficult for anyone to claim they are absolutely anonymous these days. When climategate occurred there were a number of posts on the matter, a lot of interested reporters and several who knew my last name. Steve did not claim here that I was ‘impossible’ to locate there are unusual circumstances surrounding the Guardian article which make the story worth discussing. I’ve posted this intro on my blog.

          Steve McIntyre has posted on something we’ve discussed behind the scenes for some time now. It was a weekend morning at the end of January 2010 when I got the call from Guardian reporter David Leigh for asking for Patrick Condon. Now, the interesting thing about it was that I had not released my first name to anyone except to Steve McIntyre in my entire gmail or blogging history. [Steve - Jeff's email in question was on January 31, 2010 AFTER he had just been called by Leigh.]

          My gmail contains every blog comment and emial associated with the Air Vent blog since its inception. I can look back and find every single disclosure of my name in its history. There are very few prior to climategate and everyone I wrote to except one, I introduced myself as Jeff (my middle name). That is the name I use for everyone except banks. Even wordpress and gmail, by which all of my blogging communication occurred, had no information on my address or phone numbers.

          In fact even the UK anti-terror police knew me as Jeff when they wrote to me at the link on my blog, yet weeks later David Leigh contacted me asking for Patrick Condon of the Air Vent. Now everyone should know that an internet blogger, business owner and engineer isn’t exactly a top secret spy. It is quite difficult to have the 5000 readers/day I had prior to cliamtegate and claim anonymity but I very, very rarely mentioned my last name.

          How did the UK press find me? There is more than one piece in this puzzle.

          Were there legitimate avenues for discovery of my name and address? I’m sure, but they aren’t easy and what is most concerning is that if the information were legitimately located, is that supported by the Guardian’s unique responses to Steve below?

          One of the most telling bits is that in the same post by David Leigh, they quote Steve’s private email to Paul Dennis. Information that to my knowledge only the UK police and Steve had. It is reasonably apparent that the Guardian’s David Leigh was in ‘close’ contact with the UK police on this matter and the UK anti-terror police had information which the general public did not. If the Guardian wishes to make public the method by which they discovered my name I would be happy to report it here. If the confidentiality of their source is a problem as they claim, then at least some remark that there were no government sources used in the disclosure would be appropriate. Finally, there is the matter of my specific request not to have my name published. In the UK, it isn’t legal to release names of people who don’t want to be identified unless there is some public good. After the release of my full name, David said that his ‘editors’ were at fault.

          David Leigh

          I’m really sorry, I asked my editors to change it, but it never happened last night for some reason

          Recently we learned that many in the UK work above the law for the discovery and disclosure of private information. It seems apparent that this may be the norm of reporting in the modern age.

          I look for the simple answer but am no internet expert. I had emails to Paul Dennis that would probably have IP addresses attached that would give a nearby Chicago-esque location. The anti-terror police who had access to the UEA emails and my middle/last name would have the same information. I also had some emails with RC scientists that could do the same for the police. There were methods to find me but if the methods were easy, why didn’t the Guardian reply – well we did a public records search on your name, or a private source sent an email.

          My first comment to David when he called was, “How did you find me?”

          He answered, “It wasn’t that hard.”

          Any way you cut it, I take him at his word but the second question is, did it come from the same people who released the Paul Dennis emials? In my world, the simple answer is the most likely.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

          Jeff’s email to me identifying himself as “Patrick” came on January 31, 2010 immediately AFTER he had just been called by Leigh asking for Patrick. Jeff’s email said that the reporter (Leigh) “wanted to know what the police had been asking me.”

        • Venter
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

          Better read what you’re posting before making a fool of yourself, not that I care. I enjoy seeing the contortions and distortions you go through to justify every bit of bad behaviour and possible illegal behaviour.

          The page you linked talked about him returning from Michigan after hunting. It does not say that he’s from Morris, Ilinois. So just with a name Jeff ID Condon who runs Air Vent and was last seen hunting deer in Upper Peninsula of Michigan and drove home in 5 hours, what genius would deduce his hometown, state and phone number by legal means

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

          5 hours from the UP could put him in wisconsin, minnesota, illinois, indianna ohio..

          If I have the name Jeff Condon and those 5 states I can using legal means get the name patrick from public sources.
          but I also get a BUNCH of jeff condons.

          That is, using sources that are not contaminated by the disclosure ( public records that do not take internet information as sources) If I am given Jeff Condon and those states I get a bunch of hits on jeff condon and a couple hits on patrick.

          The issue isnt whether you can do it. You could search for jeff condon using public data bases I wont disclose and you will get hits on jeff condons that are not the right hit. You will also get patrick jeff condon

          Question: how do you know to call patrick when you have other false hits.

          Real question: how did the guardian do it and why did they publish his name when he asked them not to

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

          So Nick, can you find me by Jeff Condon and no address/age/IP? Can you find me by name and IP? Or do you need anything else?

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

          Well, Jeff, Breitbart tells me I’m looking for an aeronautical engineer called Jeff Condon who lives somewhere near Michigan. Googling almost immediately pops up mention of T…, at W… Ill. It also mentions Patrick Condon (seems to think Jeff and Patrick are both president). I don’t have access to linkedln, and I’m sure that there are other business networks that the Guardian could legitimatelyy access.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

          Nick, I think that it’s entirely reasonable to see what could be located through google and this avenue needs to be foreclosed more certainly. I googled “jeff condon aeronautical engineer” and didn’t get anything in W…. I even googled “”jeff condon aeronautical engineer w…” and didn’t get anything relevant. what is the link that you encountered?

          BTW do you also have a theory for how Leigh got the email from Dennis to me that he said came from “police files”?

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

          Steve,
          I googled “Jeff Condon” aeronautical and it was at the top of p 2.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

          Not when I google it. I went down a number of pages and didn’t locate any such reference.

          Can any readers in Australia confirm Nick Stokes’ search? As it is not replicable in North America.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

          Here’s what I found

          T… – W…, Illinois (IL) | Company Profile
          http://www.manta.com/c/mm02sjb/tecniq-inc – Cached
          Jeff Condon. President. Patrick Condon*, President* … Aerospace Lighting Corporation. Aircraft Lighting Fixtures in Holbrook, NY …


          Steve – I entered on Google Australia and did not encounter that link. I searched “Jeff Condon” and “Jeff Condon aeronautical” on the manta.com website and did not get the said hit. Are you sure that you didn’t have something else in your search list? I cant replicate your search. Can you show a screen shot?

        • Paul Dennis
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

          The link that Nick Stokes comes up with is to a company called Teqniq who manufacture road vehicle lighting systems. There’s no indication they have anything to do with aerospace lighting. A separate company in Holbrook, NY called Aerospace Lighting Corporation, but with no relationship to TeqNiq or Jeff/Patrick Condon is listed as ‘other companies’.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

          Steve,
          Screenshot is here. It’s at the bottom of p1 now.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

          The link Nick reports (with Patrick Condon*, President*) is 9th out of 10 on the secone page for me. At 10 on the first page is this:

          Jeff Condon, President – T… – W….
          http://www.manta.com/g/mm02sjb/jeff-condon – Cached
          View T..’s profile about Jeff Condon. Get contact info for Jeff Condon … Aerospace Lighting Corporation. Aircraft Lighting Fixtures in Holbrook, NY …

          All this makes it very unlikely, for me, that Leigh would ask for Patrick, not Jeff Condon, if he was going just from Google. But I’m not sure that’s the biggest issue here (at least that we know for sure), which is why on earth The Guardian would publish Jeff’s details, even in the first draft of such an article. That is partisanship taken way too far. No wonder David Leigh couldn’t maintain eye contact with tallbloke in that unscheduled encounter in June last year.

        • Paul Dennis
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

          Nick, the Aerospace Lighting Corporation has nothing to do with Jeff Condon. It may be that Google has thrown up Jeff’s name but are you sure this is the same person?

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

          Steve, what you need to put in the Google text box is eveything on the next line:

          “Jeff Condon” aeronautical

          The double quotes matter, in other words, indicating that you want pages with those two words consecutively, not just anywhere. I assume this explains the difference we’re experiencing.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

          Yep. I can get a result using “Jeff Condon” aeronautical.

          As Richard Drake observes, the Guardian’s use of “Patrick Condon” remains a mystery as it seems implausible that “Jeff Condon” would become “Patrick Condon” as the Jeff Condon search has priority.

          This obviously doesn’t prove that this was how the Guardian got the information. It’s hardly a quick route for a reporter turning out stories.

          Nick Stokes, as he often does, ignores inconvenient evidence – in this case, the direct quote from Dennis’ email to me – attributed by Leigh to police files. Without an explanation for the other part of the evidence, it still seems more probable to me that Leigh got Jeff’s personal information from the police, at the same time that he got the email from the police.

        • Duster
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

          One point that is evident is that Leigh knew that Jeff’s first name was Patrick. Cultural expectations in this society regarding name order would normally lead to an assumption that your “first” is the one you use in public. That would point back squarely to the police, since they had the full name.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

          “BTW do you also have a theory for how Leigh got the email from Dennis”
          It could be that the UEA mail servers aren’t totally secure.

          Steve: Hmmm. So you think that David Leigh did hack the information after all. Interesting.

        • Paul Penrose
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

          In other words, illegally. Have you no problem with that?

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

          A little tongue-in-cheek, Paul.

        • Faustino
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

          Steve, you didn’t use Nick’s stated search term, “Jeff Condon” aeronautical, Google Australia has a hit for T… low on p1 and top of p2. The latter lists both Jeff and Patrick Condon in W,,,. If they are not Mr Id, they might well be related to/know him; or, once pointed at W…, you could search local telephone directories – how many Jeff/Patrick/JP Condons live in W…? No “source” to protect there, but maybe (for example) the Guardian asked a local PI to track him. While the police source story might seem most likely, there are other possibilities.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

          it’s hard to believe that the Guardian would have bothered with a PI to locate Jeff Id, when he was simply collateral damage in the smear of Paul Dennis.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

          Google searches are personalized.

          Once Nick started searching for jeff condon and found the first link, google will change what is served up to him.

          You cannot reconstruct what the guardian could have found. You cant because google would have returned different results that are taylored to prior search. There are 57 variables that google uses to personalize the search.
          They are a very big shop of R programmers.

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

          Plus a big shop of C/C++ programmers, Go programmers, Python programmers and JavaScript programmers (especially significant perhaps, since big G’s open source V8 virtual machine has led to what people are calling the Nodequake around node.js). They also recently acquired one of the most highly regarded, high-performance Ruby teams as well. (If you know if the PostRank guys are being moved to another language or staying with Ruby, I’d be very interested.) They’re also no doubt using or tracking all the latest from the functional camp, based on the venue of a recent NYC Clojure User Group. Annoying people :)

          One reason I tried a google search myself earlier was to see if this thread from CA would already be showing. Of course it’s impossible to say from today what Leigh, his assistant or PI would have come up with in February 10. But I tend to agree with Steve that it’s more likely everything came from the police, because Leigh mentions “files obtained by police” before quoting from Paul Dennis to Steve. (But that’s also weird. Was the guy trying to intimidate Paul, Steve, Jeff and all of us by making this clear? Or were the police trying to, on behalf of whatever ‘very high’ personages were running the Empire Strikes Back operation?)

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

          you’re right that Jeff’s name was in the public domain by then and I’ll annotate that in my post.

          However, there’s an oddity in the form of Leigh’s contact. He asked for Patrick Condon and identified Id as Patrick Condon in the article. That name was on file with the questionnaire but not in the blog articles. But Jeff’s recollection of his name not being out there is incorrect.

          However, that doesn’t deal with all the facts yet. Leigh refers to “police files” in connection with the provenance of Dennis’ email to me.

        • Faustino
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

          Great article BTW. Very clear for the uninitiated, and a nice explanation of how Steve & CA got started.

  5. Anoneumouse
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking

    Anyone who wishes to be identified as a core participant within the meaning of Rule 5 of the Inquiries Rules 2006 should do so before 31 August 2011 to the Secretary to the Inquiry c/o the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London WC2A 2LL or by e mail to solicitor.levesoninquiry@tsol.gsi.gov.uk.

  6. Tom Fuller
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Have you considered an alternate explanation for their actions?

    Perhaps they wanted to find out how real journalism is performed…

  7. jonj
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    OT

  8. Venter
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    My bet would be that Guardian would have obtained it from the police through Wallis’ connections. It is entirely plausible. The conduct of Guardian has not been straightforward or ethical in this case. They are hiding where they got the information from and it couldn’t have been from any legal source. An application to the ICO is the way to go.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

      A reader has emailed me that Neil Wallis is the mystery Mirror executive who hacked Heather Mills’ phones.

      • Venter
        Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

        There you go, it get’s murkier and murkier, isn’t it?

  9. RobB
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I really urge you to pursue this matter with your normal vigour. It is completely unacceptable for individuals’ private details to be passed around like some kind of media commodity. That said, I’m not sure how effective the Information Commissioner would be at investigating a police leak but it is certainly worthwhile alerting them. I look forward to watching what happens to this one.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

      In respect to the police, recall the curious fact that Alan Hayman was formerly Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary. If Wallis wanted to get access to one of the detectives at Norfolk (as part of his “duties” on behalf of East Anglia), he could have got a suggestion from Hayman and then used Hayman as a link when he called the detective.

      • JohnH
        Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Paul McCartney will be reporting the hacking of messages left by him on the then Heather McCartney’s mobile when he is next back in the UK to the Police, the Met Office is the force charged with the investigations (for the third time, it takes 3 investigations at least to finally get the right answer in the UK).

  10. Hengist McStone
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So which bit of David Leigh’s “smear” is untrue ?

    • Venter
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Hengist, you’re trolling, as you’ve been doing at Bishp Hill’s blog. You would not have failed to notice that Paul Dennis of UEA posted in Bishop Hill’s blog at 9.54 AM UK time today as follows

      QUOTE

      This is interesting Bish. David Leigh also visited me in February 2010 and subsequently published a front page article on me and the climategate issue suggesting by bare innuendo that I might be the person who leaked the emails (wrong). He also told me he had a cottage in Scotland and had just visited it. I think he may have mentioned that he visited you afterwards as well.

      I didn’t take to Leigh, though I did buy him coffee and lunch and showed him round my lab! I was furious after the Guardian article because he misrepresented my views and misinterpreted the results of one of my papers but also because of the phalanx of journalists making their way from London to appear on my doorstep in deepest rural Norfolk. My only pleasure was asking where they had come from then telling them to bugger off back home.

      I made a rather vituperative comment at the Independent web site which was picked up by the ever excellent Philip Stott in one of his blogs.

      UNQUOTE

      You posted a comment in the same thread at 12.48 PM, 3 hours after Paul posted.

      Now you come here and troll on the same topic as if you don’t know what’s happening.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It is “true” that, for example, Paul Dennis was interviewed by police detectives, but it was also a smear. What news purpose was served by saying that Dennis had been interviewed by police detectives? Placing Dennis’ name in connection with the police was a smear on Dennis. Duh.

      Or if it had news value, then why didn’t the Guardian run a story on Trevor Davies being interviewed by police detectives? (I presume that they did. But maybe they limited their interviews to people who had sent FOI inquiries to East Anglia.)

  11. crosspatch
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Did Jeff fill this questionnaire in writing or were the questions asked verbally? The reason I ask is that the phone hacking would allow a journalist to access voice messages and possibly conversations that someone recorded using their phone, but it would not allow access to any written information. By that I mean that I wouldn’t think phone hacking would not allow one to gain access to a document in police files.

    At this point it would seem that such phone hacking was ubiquitous among journalists in the UK or at least it would seem best to assume it was.

    Steve – in writing.

  12. Jeff C
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There is a moral to this story: don’t cooperate with the authorities on fishing expeditions, particularly those with a political aspect. That does not mean one shouldn’t report crimes observed, or defend oneself if accused of a crime. However, the noble instinct of being a “good citizen” when police are thrashing around looking for something, anything, and anyone to blame often doesn’t end well. This is particularly true in a political high-profile case like this one; a case with zero evidence a crime was even committed. Police are often looking for a scalp if for no other reason than to get the boss off their backs. They’re human after all.

    This episode reminds me of how after pulling someone over for a speeding a police officer might ask, “Mind if I take a look in the trunk?” They have no legal right or reason to do so, but it’s worth a shot as they might get lucky. Most law abiding folks say “go ahead” without considering they are allowing an unwarranted rifling of their personal effects. Nothing usually comes of it, but what is the officer has a strong political bent and finds something opposed to his beliefs? What if the officer is looking to make a name for themselves and finds something they consider inflammatory? What if the officer is corrupt or just a jerk?

    Seems it’s far better to say, “Yes, I do mind” and be on your way.

    • EricL
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Even if you are defending yourself. Don’t talk to the authorities. Even if you are innocent.

  13. dp
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    crosspatch wrote:

    At this point it would seem that such phone hacking was ubiquitous among journalists in the UK or at least it would seem best to assume it was.

    “was ubiquitous”?? Why “was” and not “is”?

    • JohnH
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 4:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I would hope after the shutting down of a Newspaper, appearances before MP’s, not being able to buy BskyB and all the political fallout that all UK journalists are currently keeping within the rules. For how long this is the case is debatable.

  14. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The Guardian’s responses come across as extremely unprofessional. Had I not been told that’s who it was, I would’ve thought it was a reporter who moonlighted as an internet troll.

  15. Anthony Watts
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Noble cause corruption journalism

    • stan
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Because they want to “make a difference”. Unfortunately, the difference is the gap between the integrity expected by readers and what we get from the difference makers.

  16. davedonn
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ed Scott says:
    January 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm
    Peer-to-Peer Review: How ‘Climategate’ Marks the Maturing of a New Science Movement, Part I

    Posted by Patrick Courrielche Jan 8th 2010

    How a tiny blog and a collective of climate enthusiasts broke the biggest story in the history of global warming science – but not without a gatekeeper of the climate establishment trying to halt its proliferation.

    It was triggered at the most unlikely of places. Not in the pages of a prominent science publication, or by an experienced muckraker. It was triggered at a tiny blog – a bit down the list of popular skeptic sites. With a small group of followers, a blog of this size could only start a media firestorm if seeded with just the right morsel of information, and found by just the right people. Yet it was at this location that the most lethal weapon against the global warming establishment was unleashed.

    http://bigjournalism.com/pcourrielche/2010/01/08/peer-to-peer-review-how-climategate-marks-the-maturing-of-a-new-science-movement-part-i/

    Now, as expected, the virtual organism that is the global warming establishment resisted release of the weapon. At the first appearance of the Climategate files, which contained a plethora of emails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, the virtual organism moved to halt their promulgation. Early on, a few of the emails were posted on Lucia Liljegren’s skeptic blog The Blackboard. Shortly after the post, Lucia, a PhD and specialist in fluid mechanics, received an email from prominent climatologist Gavin Schmidt from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). It said in part, “[A] word to the wise… I don’t think that bloggers are shielded under any press shield laws and so, if I were you, I would not post any content, nor allow anyone else to do so.”

    In response to my inquiry about his email, Schmidt posited, “I was initially concerned that she might be in legal jeopardy in posting the stolen emails.” Gavin Schmidt was included in over 120 of the leaked correspondence.

    When asked if she thought the Climategate documents were a big deal at first sight, Lucia responded, “Yes. In fact, I was even more sure after Gavin [Schmidt] sent me his note.”

    Remember these names: Steven Mosher, Steve McIntyre, Ross McKitrick, Jeff “Id” Condon, Lucia Liljegren, and Anthony Watts. These, and their community of blog commenters, are the global warming contrarians that formed the peer-to-peer review network and helped bring chaos to Copenhagen – critically wounding the prospects of cap-and-trade legislation in the process. One may have even played the instrumental role of first placing the leaked files on the Internet.

    This group can be thought of as the first cousins to Andrew Breitbart’s collective of BIG websites – obsessively curious, grassroots investigators that provide vision to the establishment’s blind eye. Peer-to-peer review is the scientific version of the undernews.

    To fully understand how this amorphous body came about, one has to press rewind – back to the introduction of the now famous “hockey stick” graph, and how this iconic image inadvertently gave birth to this group.

    (Read it all)

    Reply: I already scheduled this article for publishing tomorrow so you don’t get a hat tip. ~ charles the moderator

  17. Gordon Walker
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As far as jouralists are concerned there is no other choice than this:
    “You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

    Or just maybe: Lunch Time O’Booze.
    Tertium non datur.

  18. Hengist McStone
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So Leigh’s article wasn’t untrue, it was just unethical for Leigh to publish innuendo. I suppose you’re going to tell me none of the hacked emails from CRU were used in this way too.


    Steve: I said that Leigh’s article was a “smear” of Paul Dennis. I take it that you concede the point.

    • Venter
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Which part of ” smear ” don’t you understand? I’ll give you a hint. Unethical Innuendo is one of the meanings of smear.

  19. santerslittlehelper
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Others followed suit. Anthony Watts, a weather specialist, created WattsUpWithThat, Lucia Liljegren created The Blackboard, and Jeff “Id” Condon created the Air Vent. Both the contributors and commenters at these sites meticulously picked apart the work of the scientists featured in the Climategate emails – that’s how this community works.

    http://bigjournalism.com/pcourrielche/2010/01/10/peer-to-peer-review-part-ii-how-climategate-marks-the-maturing-of-a-new-science-movement/

  20. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations, gentlemen, on making the stasi watch list.

    The Guardian might be inclined to settle – with no admissions. As James Murdoch declared – it might simply be good business. Get a UK legal opinion, before any further comments. (Pachauri may be able to advise on the appropriate solicitors to employ).

    Meanwhile – I imagine that the Guardian are now 1) engaged in ‘routine’ email spring cleaning 2) asking Acton, Davies, and King how to handle their public image and 3) wondering when they too will be shut down. Pretty sad really.

  21. Layman Lurker
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Leigh calls Jeff “Patrick” in the Paul Dennis article linked by Steve. IIRC I believe that Patrick is Jeff’s first name but that he goes by his second name. If Leigh had discovered Jeff’s identity from someone who knew Jeff or had corresponded with Jeff through his blog, then Leigh would have refered to “Jeff” rather than “”Patrick” Condon. It seems to me that Leigh must have been referring to some kind of form showing the first name as Patrick. As someone who goes by his second name, I can confirm that this happens to me all the time when people refer to forms (“name in full”) in order to correspond.

    • John F. Pittman
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, and there are ways to find this information. I do the same as Jeff, just different. ;) I use my middle name for friends and family. Business is always first name. However, because I had once used my middle name, an IT savvy gamer was able to contact me by my middle name. Steve, I suggest you consider that. It may still be hacking, because in my case, the information should have been unavailable. There are other possibilities that perhaps give a fig leaf to the denial-ability part. As in once the information was hacked, it could then be reconstructed.

      This is the surmise: The Guardian are telling the true facts, but not necessarily the truth.””The Guardian did not use illegal or unethical means or accept information obtained obtained illegally or unethically concerning Mr Condon’s identity or the police files referred to in our article.”” This would not contradict a case where someone else hacked information such that a connection could be made and constructed. They made the connection and passed this information to the Guardian. Even though without the key, the odds against making the connection would be 10′s if not 100′s of orders of magnitude of what is possible in the time frame, even if they had dozens hunting for Jeff. The question, not answered in this case, is did the person who originally ID’ed Jeff (pun intended)hack, then construct a possible path. But I consider this speculation most unlikely. Otherwise the statement “”To reiterate our very clear statement, nothing illegal or unethical was done to obtain the information.”” would be untrue. But there is one thing to consider, the use of the word nothing. Nothing has an absolute meaning. Which means that if the Guardian is not correct, they have definitely shot themselves in the foot.

  22. Hengist McStone
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mr McIntyre, are you arguing that a part of the climategate narrative should be covered-up even though Leigh’s account was factual? It looks that way to me.


    Steve – no, I think that it should have been properly investigated. There was many things in the Climategate dossier that needed to be examined and weren’t. And yes, there was a great deal of disinformation about Climategate on both sides. That was one of the reasons why a proper investigation was necessary.

    Be that as it may, in my opinion, Climate Audit has been a consistent source of accurate interpretation of Climategate documents. I hope that you share this opinion.

    • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Mr McIntyre, well you would think Climate Audit was accurate, it’s your blog. I dont think you’ve given me a straight answer. Somebody is questioned in the course of the investigation, don’t interested parties have a right to know that fact? HMcS.

      Steve: I would like to know details of the police investigation but understand why, as a matter of policy, police are circumscribed in what they are allowed to release. I don’t think that people have a “right” to know who the police questioned nor would I expect the police to release such information in response to a FOI request. That’s why the police actions are puzzling here.

      On the other hand, I think that people should be entitled to details of the Muir Russell and Oxburgh “investigations” which were supposed to be transparent.

  23. W F Lenihan
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Slightly OT, but relevant: I saw a reference on Fox New (TV) yesterday and have read elsewhere that the phone hacking extended beyond Murdoch’s papers. Another news group, Mission, that includes British tabloids, is now under investigation. As I recall there is a 3d group of tabloid newspapers that has escaped mention to date.

    I suspect that the entire fiasco is being managed to target Murdoch primarily. It seems that phone hacking was done by several non-Murdoch papers. Wallis’ fingerprints keep appearing.

    Ultimately, the full scope of the hacking scandal will become public. Perhaps Murdoch will gain respect for his drastic and ethical responses. It is not a daily occurrence when a news paper with a circulation of 6 million+ is closed down. 6 million exceeds the combined circulation of the NYT, WSJ and USA Today.

    I hope some of the Brits who follow this blog will provide more details regarding this failure of journalist ethics. It almost matches the rotten and corrupt garbage that is peddled as climate science these days.

    • JohnH
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 4:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

      News International in the scheme of hacking are well down the list I saw recently volume wise, their problem is that they used a Private Detective who keep copious notes, it is these notes that are feeding the stories. As yet there is not other Newspaper Group with a smoking gun, they have all been up to their necks in it but with no hard details it only comes out very slowly and by inference. If there is another Private Detective out their with notes they are very busy shredding or making requests for help in keeping quiet ;)

  24. Britannic no-see-um
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Paul Dennis researches at UEA, the traditional way- no agenda, observations first, interpretations second. He ‘refused to sign a petition in support of Jones when the scandal broke’. The Guardian sent their ‘hack’ and Dennis bought him coffee and lunch and showed him round his lab. The Guardian then published innuendo calculated to jeopardize his standing in an institution under conditions of crisis.

    It was an unconscionable smear job, and you know it was.

  25. Max Beran
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Below a mini-postscript to David Leigh’s online admission of past sins (albeit in a good cause) on the Guardian website.

    QUOTE
    …snip
    • This article was amended on 5 August 2011. The original – while attributed in the newspaper and online to David Leigh – also carried an online credit for Ian Reeves. This has been corrected.
    END QUOTE

    Note the date. Looks like an ex-colleague is trying to distance himself from this story. Googling on him, it appears that Ian Reeves has a new job training journalists so obviously has a reputation to cherish.

  26. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well Well Well!

    Last year in June I attended a public event on “Privacy and Public Policy”http://www.idea.leeds.ac.uk/2010/01/public-event-on-privacy-and-public-policy-18th-june-2010/

    Looky who was on the speakers list. After listening to this hypocritical toerag waffle on about ‘legitimate use of sources’ for 20 minutes I was pretty annoyed by his obviously partisan slant.

    After the event I fronted Leigh up and told him about my little adventure with the Norfolk plod interviewing me as a possible suspect in the climategate hacking and asked him eye to eye what he thought of the UEA passing my details given on my FOIA request to Plod and the contrast with the lack of information UEA was prepared to give to me. He instantly broke eye contact, waffled more platitudes about legitimate investigation and legitimate (a favourite word of his) refusal of FOIA requests, shuffled his feet and couldn’t wait to get away.

    What a lying unethical slimeball this man is.

    • mpaul
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 3:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I assume that FOIAs are public domain documents. I was therefore not surprised that those who submitted FOIAs had their contact information furnished to the Norfolk Constabulary. What was more surprising to me was that the Constabulary considered the fact that someone submitted a FOIA as reason to suspect that person in the hacking.

      • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Not so sure about that. What if I was to FOIA the hospital where I was treated to discover what internal documents about my condition were created? Would medical ethics allow such a request to be public domain? Interesting question.

        • mpaul
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

          You raise an interesting point. I don’t know definitively if a FOIA request is in the public domain. And, if its not in the public domain, then under what circumstances can the UEA give it to the police. In the US, PII laws general have an exception for law enforcement activities. In other words, a private company must protect credit card information (for example) but is permitted to give that information to the police.

        • Jonathan Jones
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 2:42 AM | Permalink

          mpaul, you ask about FOI requests. Within the UK the fact of the FOI request and the question asked is in the public domain (so, for example, you can make an FOI request for a list of FOI requests!), but the identity of the person who made the request is not. Note that copies of decision notices published by the ICO have the name and address of the applicant redacted.

  27. john Dracup
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    W F Lenihan Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Try this link, then download the pdf “What price privacy now?”

    http://tinyurl.com/67bcwxd

    On page 9 there is a list of naughty newspapers and their antics.

    This was published on 13 December 2006. Repeat December 2006.

    A few weeks ago the former Prime Minister Brown stood up in Parliament and said that his officials would not let him take action on the report; at the time that Sir Humphry put his foot down, the report was already nearly two years old.

  28. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Leigh’s admission of phone hacking is discussed at Bishop Hill here; Guido Fawkes here. Leigh himself admitted here.

    There is certainly a voyeuristic thrill in hearing another person’s private messages…

    I think a little introspection is in order here — How does our rumaging through all the Climategate messages differ from Leigh’s listening in on private phone conversations? Or someone at UEA leaking a private e-mail between Steve and Dennis which would be on the UEA server? The Briffa MXD and Yamal data, and perhaps a few directly associated emails were legitimate objects of UK FOIA requests, but didn’t the Climategate leak expand to an unwarranted breach of privacy, even if no police officials were involved?

    (I appreciate that this is perhaps a broader topic than Steve wishes to see pursued on this thread.)

    • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Hu, all the emails that were published on sceptic blogs that I saw had email addresses and phone numbers redacted.

      ‘Nuff said I think.

      • Rattus Norvegicus
        Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The originals didn’t

        • Green Sand
          Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

          Being original, the originals would not, would they?

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

          Maybe the rat will answer my question

        • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

          So, if you read a bunch of skeptics mails and they sent back and forth Hansens home address would you be concerned?

          That is: imagine that Hansen made an inquiry to jeff ids business. And then jeff id forwards me Hansens mail and I have no business knowing Hansens address. Would you be concerned about Jeff’s actions?

  29. Max Beran
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ref my posting of today 3:13 pm I had no reason to suppose Reeves’ disassociation was in any way connected to Climategate especially as David Leigh’s name is in today’s Financial Times pledging cooperation with the panel investigating press behaviour.

    An obvious way of finding out why he distances himself after all this time is to contact him. This I attempted to do via this website:

    http://www.ianreevesmedia.co.uk

    The moment I clicked on the contact page my computer experienced a “violent” attack from an intruding programme in a rapid loop. Is anyone out their sufficiently computer savvy to approach the contact page of this website to check if it is booby-trapped or if it was a coincidence; I’m certainly not brave enough to do it.

    • Oxbridge Prat
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Max Beran, according to that page you should email ian@ianreevesmedia.co.uk or telephone +44 (0)7803 174088

    • Duster
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

      It appears to be trying to load a php script with a source in the Czech Republic. I would suggest following Oxbridge’s suggestion, and also, let him know his site might be hijacked.

    • Max Beran
      Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Just to tidy up this loose end – Ian Reeves replied to my enquiry about the removal of his name. He writes,
      “I wasn’t aware of the issue with the David Leigh article until your email. My name should never have been on the piece. My best guess is that it originally ran alongside a piece that I wrote back in 2006:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/dec/04/mondaymediasection10?INTCMP=SRCH
      and that somehow the bylines became muddled.”
      So an innoent cock-up.

  30. John M
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Of course we can’t give you an account of how we obtained the information – we take protecting our sources very seriously.

    If Nick’s theory is correct, I imagine Google is very appreciative.

    • Steve Crook
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      If the Grauniad got the information from Google and some phone calls, then why not say so… Why hide behind ‘never reveal our sources’? I can imagine several explanations, not least of which is a desire to generate conspiracy theories :-|

  31. DanJ
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Two things, if I may:

    1: You are having an open and frank discussion here, as usual. Unfortunately this thread suggest a number of semi-plausible excuses, that can be put to good use by the other party in this dispute.

    2: Journalists can be very good at finding things out by legal means also. It is, after all, their job. One might wish immoral people were also incompetent and hapless, but mostly they are not.

  32. Oxbridge Prat
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 4:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Nick’s search didn’t work for me either. Google search is pretty personalised, so it’s hard to know which search terms Nick has been using recently which have sensitised google for him. However I think we can conclude that it wouldn’t work for a typical user.

    • Faustino
      Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

      See my earlier post, using Nick’s exact search term, I got hits on p1 and 2 on Google Australia, the latter listing both Jeff Condon and Patrick Condon. Not an aeronautical company, but referring to an associated aeronautical company.

      • Robert of Ottawa
        Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 7:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

        But what were the dates of the hits? Obviously, a search now will show up thousands.

  33. DR
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Someone made a pertinent comment on David Leigh’s original article:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/1586005

    TVwriter
    4 February 2010 11:37PM
    Why are the Norfolk police leaking full details of their investigation to the Guardian?

    • Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Interesting assumption there I agree. Or was it a deduction? Or simply inside information. Makes me want to know more about TVwriter.

      Sometimes the wish to track down an anonymous commenter on a blog seems pretty benign – or indeed to read someone’s erstwhile private emails, without their permission. Hu McCulloch asks a good question about that, I think.

  34. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 5:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    Is there any path for you to approach the Norfolk police through your local Canadian police for inquiries on data released by them. Perhaps a naive idea of mine. It is just a thought.

    Is there a Canadian way into the British system?

    John

  35. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve’s Climate Audit post is now headlining at GWPF.

    h/t from BH commenter: Aug 7, 2011 at 12:07 AM | Pharos

    John

  36. Bebben
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    At least we know how Leigh and the Guardian knew about the email from Paul Dennis to Steve McIntyre.

    In a comment to Jeff’s post “Id’s out” from February 4, 2010:

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/ids-out/

    Paul Dennis posts a comment giving his account of the events. Among other things he says:

    “I told Leigh about the email I had sent Steve McIntyre and the paper I had sent to Jeff. There’s no mysterious police leak here.”

    The problem with this, of course, is that the Guardian was able to quote the email to SM literally:

    “Hi Steve, Yesterday we received the following email, sent to all staff in environmental sciences and the climatic research unit. I have no idea what stuff was collected or where it was posted, but interesting nonetheless.”

    So how could they have done this simply because Dennis “told them about the email”? If the quote is correct, they had access to the email, and Dennis is hardly their protected source – but the very existence of the email was now revealed by Dennis to Leigh… who promptly contacted ….. his “protected source”, I guess.

    BTW, other comments to the “Id’s out” post are also interesting, Lucia threatens to show up on Jeff’s doorstep with her cats :-), and Steve McIntyre writes:

    “Out of all the emails that the police have had access to – over and above the Climategate emails – the only one that they’ve leaked (presuming that the police leaked the email to the Guardian reporter) is Paul Dennis’ email to me where he’s wondering about strange events at the university. And that he sent a paper on isotopes to Jeff.”

    Collateral damage or not, the revelation of Jeff’s identity seems to me to be a “shot fired back at the critics” (and a petty one) from the Guardian. But just like Jeff failed to take any deer home, the Guardian bullet didn’t seem to have any effect at all on their ‘game’ – he is now a published scientist in the climatology field.

    Under the name Jeff Condon, of course.

  37. SteveGinIL
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    [Update 2.30 pm: A reader points out that Jeff Id had been publicly identified as Jeff Condon in a blog article on Jan 10, 2011...

    Steve, given the context, “2011″ seems to be a typo, unless I am reading it wrong.

  38. Robert of Ottawa
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 7:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    They just keep digging the hole deeper! This is turning out to be a show case of “how NOT to handle PR” for future communications degree courses. A classic example of an ever-growing FUBAR.

    Thing is, when you start lying, you have to continue, and the fabric of lies become ever more complex as new facts are introduced. Eventually, you are FUBARed.

  39. wes george
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 7:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A serious investigator, allocated plenty of time, might find the clues he needed to track Jeff Id down simply by deduction…

    Starting with the clue – Condon – he could plan to look up and call every Condon on the planet. But first he could eliminate all Condons that aren’t American or male. Then he could limit his search to particular types of Condons — only those with Jeff Id’s particular kind of skills and expertise. There are likely to be other more subtle clues in Jeff’s many blog posts as to his regional location or even his precise occupation. For instance, his posts about contrails.

    Of course, this is the expensive hard way to find someone and I doubt The Guardian could allocate the resources necessary, given finding Jeff wasn’t ever going to result in front page headlines. Besides, the culture of corruption on Fleet Street apparently siphoned funding and reason for legit research towards other means of intelligence gathering.

    The really damning evidence is that the Guardian refused to reveal it source and specifically refused to rule out the police. If they had simply been clever fellows and deduced Jeff’s true identity from the evidence freely available online they would have proudly crowed to Steve about it. No journalist in history has ever “protected his source” if the source was his own brilliant capacity to conduct legitimate research.

    The Guardian’s pathetic response not only amounts to a confession of guilt, but reveals they’re so far beyond doing legitimate research it didn’t even dawn on them to suggest that’s how they found Jeff’s real name as a defence!

    • JCM
      Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 9:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Very few reporters will ever tell you their source/s. Standard practice.
      I know many reporters across the media spectrum and never ask for a source because it is a waste of time. If they have a document or a part of a document they will not tell you that they have it or part of it, and even if they read verbatim a sentence, paragraph or section you will never find out if they have all, part of or no part of a document.

  40. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There is far too much leaking of info from police to reporters, and not just in UK. Why is it news who they interview and why should this be made public? They interview lots of people, in many cases who are not even suspects. Is it a legitimate police interest to leak info so that it can be used so smear someone in the papers?

    • stephen richards
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

      And it isn’t free!! It has been known about for some time within the UK police establishment, implicitly.

      Some years ago a well actress from one of the BBC’s soap shows was caught in a compromising situation on a motorway slip road.

      It appeared very quickly in one of Murdoch’s papers. It could only have come from the reporting police officer.

      No investigation followed.

  41. ChE
    Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “Of course we can’t give you an account of how we obtained the information – we take protecting our sources very seriously.”

    Savor the irony. This from people who want more than anything the identity of the climategate leaker.

  42. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 9:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It goes without saying I hope but any articles linked to or videos shown do not imply agreement (or disagreement) with everything said within or, even more so, everything assumed within.

    Where does one start with David Leigh? Here are four things that fall straight out of my wiki. He’s brother-in-law of the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger. When Nick Davies, who by all accounts did the hard graft in exposing the misdeeds of the News of the World leading to Hackgate version 1, came to his finest hour so far, the detailed exposure on 22nd July of the apparent economy of the truth of James Murdoch in front of the Culture Select Committee the day before, he had to take second place to David Leigh on the byline – in The ‘For Neville’ email: two words that could bring down an empire. That may have been fully deserved but it surely also speaks of seniority. (Echoes of climate papers author lists perhaps.)

    Leigh and Davies were also key figures in the WikiLeaks affair last year. Here’s someone on YouTube calling themselves BedfordDamVan, who I think it’s fair to say is not the Guardian’s greatest fan:

    The prevailing view, as reported by the BBC and other news organisations, is that Julian Assange of Wikileaks had released the confidential U.S. files, stolen by Private First Class Bradley Manning, to several newspapers, initially The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel, thus creating the impression that Assange had masterminded the U.S.’s global humiliation.

    However this video shows that the proactive party behind the campaign was actually the British newspaper The Guardian; and that the persons most culpable are the paper’s Editor Alan Rusbridger and his Investigations Editor David Leigh.

    The video goes on to reveal the anti-American activism of The Guardian’s Associate Editor Seumas Milne; and concludes with a clip in which The Guardian is accused of perverting the official inquiry into the “Cash for Questions” political controversy, which helped bring down John Major’s Conservative government.

    There’s plenty of Leigh’s own voice in the following, with the most amusing example right at the end:

    That brings in the fourth point – the involvement of Leigh in the “Cash for Questions” scandal of the 1990s, which ruined the careers of Tory MPs Jonathan Aitken and Neil Hamilton and is credited by many for the demise of John Major’s government leading up to its massive defeat by Tony Blair 1997. (Worth saying that Aitken definitely committed perjury in trying to fight back, went to prison and would say he got sorted spiritually in the process – so who can say even David Leigh has never been an agent for good?)

    The main investigative journalist on the trail of Davies for corruption and conspiracy in the 90s is Jonathan Boyd Hunt. His site is called http://www.guardianlies.com/ which will soon give you a flavour.

    • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 2:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I had intended to include video from ‘BedfordDamVan’ on how the Guardian took the lead in the WikiLeaks operation last year before the penultimate paragraph. Here it is:

    • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 2:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Here’s more from the same source about the Global Warming scare, the BBC and the Guardian, ending with more on David Leigh’s alleged misdeeds in the 1990s. Seems a bit prophetic this weekend. I’ve not looked into the claims about Cash for Questions in detail but I’d made a note of them earlier in the year as something I should know more about. Whatever the truth about that, one has to take one’s hat off to the maker of the video for the excellent use of the BBC News music! People here will also recognise a lot of climate realist talking heads as taken straight from Martin Durkin’s The Great Global Warming Swindle in March 2007. So that’s two entities ‘BedfordDamVan’ should have got permission from. I can’t vouch that he did!

  43. Posted Aug 6, 2011 at 11:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This seems to be nearly a day old, but I didn’t read anyone mention it:
    Now Guardian reporter is to be quizzed by police after admitting phone hacking.

    So it seems it’s David Leigh’s turn to be quizzed by police.

    • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I wonder who they’ll leak his information to?

    • Salamano
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 3:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

      As a Journalist and Scientist working in the media, I have seen plenty of instances where the seemingly ill-gotten information is simply leaked or given to the reporter from a source who shares a relationship or a cause. Whistleblowers can also fall into this category. In this situation, ALL the information, if factual, can be used guilt-free by the journalist, who can refer all questions of legality to the source, whom they are free to not reveal despite being the sole person who can identify them (quite a firewall). There have been numerous attempts to enact legislation to both protect or out people who voluntarily share accurate but private information for journalists’ use, with viewpoints changing on the matter depending on what side of the experience they find themselves. It’s irony indeed if people are hacking to find the people who hacked the ClimateGate servers (if that happened), all the while decrying hacking…but that suffices for the seedy underbelly of journalism in a confidential world.

      An anonymous blogger’s personal information is hallowed ground in our online world, but it probably can be reasonably considered ‘new information’ on the subject, rather than pure analysis. There are many stories out there that are also looking for the real identities of online activists, most notably the members of Anonymous that struck again recently.

      If there is but one member of the counter-terrorism unit that is friendly or sympathetic to the Guardian reporter, then David Leigh doesn’t have to do anything illegal to be given the information to run with it. It would be the police who did the illegal thing, but who it was will never be revealed (remember how long “Deep Throat” was successfully protected?) Thus, David Leigh and the Guardian can still claim they did nothing wrong in this case.

      Furthermore, until such time that any specifc case can be proven that illegal actions occured (without help), they are free to claim that about all their activities. When one is discovered, they are free to partition out those cases individually, and act like each was a one-off deal with no plausibility that others exist. :-)

      • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Even when the journalist in question teaches phone hacking?

    • Hoi Polloi
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The fact that the Graudian is very quiet on this, after having their front pages full of the NoW hacking, is, well… bemusing…

  44. Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Let me get this straight:

    1) Steve McIntyre wants to know how, as he put it, “Leigh “outed” Jeff Id by name, occupation and hometown. To that point, “Jeff Id” had been anonymous.”

    2) Nick Stokes points out that BigJournalism had previously identified Jeff Id’s last name, occupation, and general vicinity.

    3) Steve responds that “This does not explain all the facts.”

    You’re absolutely right Steve! Most prominently, it doesn’t explain how BigJournalism knew all this stuff about Jeff Id. And if BigJournalism knew all this (but didn’t know that it was “secret”, as evidenced by the fact that BigJournalism made all this info public) then who else knew all this stuff about Jeff Id? I’m no detective, but those are the questions I’d be asking before I started speculating about phone-hacking.

    As an occasional reader of your blog I am generally impressed by your tenacity—although I confess that the larger point of your effort often escapes me—but in this case it seems obvious that you need to rethink your position. Knowing what you now know about BigJournalism, would you have posted about this topic? I doubt it. You may be right about the phone-hacking (who knows? certainly not me) but right now you’re skating on awfully thin ice. And the fact that you and your readers are not asking the obvious follow-up questions about BigJournalism &etc leaves me… bemused :)

    Steve: Good question. I realize that the fact that Jeff Id was already identified as Jeff Condon could affect the hypothesis that Leigh had got this information from police files and immediately acknowledged this. Though leigh did attribute his direct quote from Dennis’ email to me to police files.

    • StuartR
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 3:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

      That’s a very good point. I kicked myself for not thinking of that as soon as I read that, after reading this thread pondering clever ways to trying to be devils advocate and maybe find Jeffs identity via Google, I was stumped, but applying occams razor if BigJounalism knew then it could be as simple as maybe Leigh asked them?

      I think it shows that crowd sourcing from a partisan point of view can temporarily blind you to important questions.

      • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 3:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Well, you, Yoram and I are still part of the crowd and we’re exploring this aspect, so don’t rule anything out.

        As has been pointed out already, it’s mighty odd that when David Leigh called Jeff Condon out of the blue at the end of Jan 2010 he asked to speak to ‘Patrick Condon’. This is highly unlikely if the additional information he’d obtained, not made public by BigJournalism in their article(s), had come from somebody associated with BigJournalism. For Jeff Condon would have been called Jeff Condon by any of these people. It was only his bank that might call him Patrick – or someone who had read his replies to the questionnaire from the UK counter-terrorism officer.

        There is also the telling phrase “files obtained by police” used by Leigh to explain how he was about to quote verbatim from a private email from Paul Dennis to Steve McIntyre.

        I gather that Yoram is a stand-up comedian but his echoing of the Guardian in claiming to be ‘bemused’ by Steve’s concerns isn’t I think his or their funniest punchline. In fact, given that it was particularly rude the first time, especially given the weasel words of the paper’s legal team in failing to rule out that they’d obtained information (about Jeff, the email or anything else) from the police, either directly or indirectly, it strikes me as pretty slimey even now.

        Still, the point about BigJournalism is a fair one. What would Leigh or his associates have learned from them or (more likely) from one of their sources? How would he have got hold of Jeff’s phone number? Most of all, why would he ask to speak to Patrick?

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

          If he rang Jeff at work, the answer could be simple. Here [snip ] is the website. [SM- I confirm that this is the website and now delete the link. However, the phone call was to his home. ]

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

          Steve,
          Thanks – I think that’s appropriate now. I’ve taken down the screenshot.

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

          And I had assumed from the original ‘fuss’ that it was a home number. There are a good many subtleties here.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 6:55 AM | Permalink

          Richard,
          My powers of perception may not rise to this discussion, but I am much reminded at the “shock” of discovering gambling going on at Rick’s in 1941 North Africa.

          Leigh goes to lunch with member of Norfolk Constabulary.

          “Do you have any idea who Jeff ID actually is?”

          “Sure. We sent him some questions as part of our enquiries.”

          “How did you find out who he was?”

          “I’d rather not say, but his name is ——. Residence in …., IL.”

          The impression I’ve gotten is that the press over there enjoys access of this nature as a regular thing. Maybe ours here, as well.

          It seems to me that this is very much a dog bites man story. It may be in the nature of auditing to bring attention to EVERY tear in the fabric of greater Climategate, but somehow I can’t get excited about press and police doing what they likely have always done.

          Why would anyone think that because this is about climate science malfeasance, everyone wold throw off their habits from hundreds of years and behave flawlessly?

          Or have I completely missed the point of this particular worry?

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

          Don’t you, jf, or anyone else try to out-Casablanca me. Remember that as well as being so shocked at the gambling going on under his nose, to his personal profit, Captain Renault (Claude Raines) says to Rick:

          “I like to think you killed a man, it’s the romantic in me.”

          I’m equally a romantic. That’s the way I think about some of these guys.

          As Steve said, the victim on this occasion, Jeff, was not so slyly amused (bemused) as the Guardian reporter emailed last month. I agree that someone like David Leigh would not have given the negative consequences for a distant ideological enemy like this a second thought. But four months later he was unexpectedly confronted with tallbloke, another Climategate FOI ‘terrorist’ from his own culture, and couldn’t look the guy in the eye. How revealing.

          From such small moments are larger plots uncovered and the relationships of true investigators cemented. Indeed, this may be the beginning of a number of beautiful friendships.

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

          Some weasels turn out to be more important than others. We don’t yet know what any of this may reveal about what Steve calls the Empire Strikes Back phase of Climategate. But the importance of the PR fightback, of the outrageous use of counter-terrorism police and smearing of anyone who didn’t at once sign up to a total defence of Phil Jones and company, like Paul Dennis, of the disgraceful non-inquiries with the central involvement of those with vested interests, all as a way of keeping the AGW politico-scientific looting going is for me blindingly obvious. The David Leigh thread in this ugly tapestry is only being tugged for the first time, through a confluence of Steve and Jeff’s inquiries to the Guardian last month and Guido Fawkes’ revelations about his involvement in phone hacking, despite being the first on the byline just two weeks before of perhaps the most significant article in the whole of the Guardian’s widely-lauded exposure of a rival news organisation’s misdeeds in the very same area.

          We don’t even know who the key weasels are. But to say it’s making a fuss to ask any of the questions at all, even the smallest, seems to be burying one’s head firmly in the sand.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

          i think I get it now. sorry for the lag.

        • Hu McCulloch
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

          The David Leigh thread in this ugly tapestry is only being tugged for the first time, through a confluence of Steve and Jeff’s inquiries to the Guardian last month and Guido Fawkes’ revelations about his involvement in phone hacking,

          “Guido Fawkes” is a name that was sometimes used by Guy Fawkes, of the 1605 gunpowder plot, so it is likely that it is just someone’s nom de blog in the present context. See
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

        • Jockdownsouth
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

          Hu -
          Guido Fawkes is the nom de plume of Paul Staines (not revealing any secrets – he appears on TV occasionally). His blog – http://www.order-order.com – has claimed several political scalps, notably among UK members of parliament corruptly claiming excessive expenses. Always worth a read but don’t bother with the comments; in Guido’s own words most of them are “window lickers”. His sidekick, Harry Cole, has been mistakenly confused with him by, I think, David Leigh among others.

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

          The Horton-Fawkes estate is just over the hill from where I live. No bonfires there on 5th November. :)

          Guy Fawkes – The only man ever to enter parliament with honest intentions…

  45. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Jeff, You will recall that I knew some of your details. This is to assure you that there was no leak from here. Nobody was told except my son, about whom you knew from IR work.

  46. Martin Brumby
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 3:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Not the least interesting aspect of an interesting posting is the speed and insistence of all the normal trolls on here and Bishop Hill (except Zed’sDeadHead – probably too early for her)to support the Grauniad (and by extension, their Big Auntie BBC, not to forget the CRU ‘team’).

    Normally the trolls object loudly about any mention of Climategate (‘storm in a teacup’ / ‘enquiries proved science was perfect – just some high spirited bad behavious between scientist chums’ / nothing to see, move along’ / ‘boring non-story’) and all the rest.

    Today we see them fighting like ferrets in a sack to defend the Grauniad. One wonders how bad a credible accusation against the CRU team would have to be before the trolls (And the Grauniad. And the BBC)would step back rather than to pitch in to defend their heros? Planning terrorist attacks? Robbing Banks? Molesting schoolgirls?

    • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 4:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Well, of course some trolls may be quietly amused (bemused?) to see the indignation here about the possibility that an email from a member of UEA staff may have been inappropriately publicised.

      Which, of course, if true I deplore.

  47. Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 7:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think that the point is that despite the potential for legal disclosure of my name, there is enough oddness in the call to my home phone asking for Patrick Condon combined with email files obtained by police being released, that we should rightly question the source. Were the Guardian truly innocent, why not say they got the information from a publicly available source in their replies?

    With all the press/government links exposed by the phone hacking resignations, it doesn’t require much imagination to guess how this went down. Not many readers here will miss the ‘wish’ that governments have for the AGW dogma to sell. We have motive and opportunity, odd coincidences and simplicity that doesn’t require a grand master plan to create a story.

    Incidentally, the website Nick found has a number of errors in the information. IOW, a non-reliable source.

    • Salamano
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 7:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Jeff, they can get the information freely volunteered from the police (or from a Private Investigator they didn’t hire, contract, or compensate, etc.) and do with it whatever they like, and it’s still not illegal. They then can protect those same sources by refusing to disclose who they are, even past the point of imprisonment. It happens all the time in journalism.

      Personally, as a journalist, I don’t see anything besides imflammatory outcomes that arise from publishing the address and contact information of a blogger that prefers their anonymity/privacy/security…but it is certainly simple to see that in cases like these a journalist will both say as little as possible as to where/how they got the information and as much as possible about how legal their behavior is.

      The website Thinkprogress.org was handed a dossier by the hacker group “Anonymous” that voluntarily compromised various websites to expose the fact that a group affiliated with one of the lawfirms representing the US Chambers of Commerce was actively working on countermeasures against detractors that were fraudulent and the like (not the same exact thing in this case, but similar). Thinkprogress.org did nothing wrong (other than to say it was ‘they’ that uncovered the story) in then going to press with their pelf. At the same time, they railed at the ‘hacking’ of the Climategate files and demanded justice.

      On one hand, some people are upset at the encroachment upon scientists who wish to speak freely and privately with one another, and on the other to find out everything said at Dick Cheney’s private energy summit.

      I don’t think any of this is going away anytime soon, so long as there’s always someone on the inside (or an anonymous person who can break in) giving out the information.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

        There is a certain amount of irony in the present situation and we need to be analytical rather than moralizing at this point.

        There’s enough in this situation to at least pull on string, but that’s all we can say for now. The roles of the police, the Guardian and the University (together with their operative, Neil Wallis) are different.

        As we pull on string here, it seems to me that the main issue is the conduct of the police rather than the conduct of the Guardian and I urge readers to direct their interests in that direction.

        For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that the police gave the information to David Leigh, as seems most likely to me, even with the further information about “Jeff Condon” being available. (I doubt that David Leigh would tie up any more than the most negligible amount of time in determining Jeff Id’s identity. And the routes identified so far would have led him to call Jeff at his work, not his home. Yes, with enough effort, he might also have located Jeff’s home, but why would he bother? In addition Leigh refers directly to “police files” in connection with the Dennis email.) Again, for the purpose of this point, I am merely stipulating this, not asserting that it is proven.

        Under UK legislation, there is a fairly wide exemption for journalists, which I’ve now reviewed. Even if the police gave this information to Leigh, it seems to me that the Guardian would have a legal defence. The issue then would be whether the Guardian had been hypocritical in using information that the police had (for the sake of argument) illegally provided to them. On reflection, I don’t think so – at least in this instance. They published Wikileaks.They gave the fairest major newspaper coverage of Climategate (credit to both Fred Pearce and his editors).

        The police are a different matter. The alleged crime that they were investigating was a supposedly illegal distribution of emails and personal information. (I am aware that none of us knows whether the dossier was released by a whistleblower or a hacker or whether the university had inadvertently left an open door to the emails.) But if the police illegally gave the personal information and email content to Leigh, it ill behooves the police to themselves commit the offence that they are supposedly investigating.

        If the university had a hand in this (perhaps through their unwise policy of trying to strike back at critics and their equally unwise hiring of a former News of the World operative to carry it out), then it would also reflect poorly on them, to say the least.

        • Venter
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM | Permalink

          That’s an excellent summation, Steve. The thing to be established now is to ascertain whether the police gave it to Guardian or whether UEA ” leaked ” it to Guardian. As you rightly said, Guardian is the vehicle and the culprits are the person or organisation that illegally released the information to Guardian. Would it be possible to petition the ICO for this information?

  48. MrPete
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Reply

    To me, the one truly surprising thing about this revelation is that they asked for “Patrick Condon”.

    In the USA, “Big Brother” is not the government, it is marketing demographics firms. I used to work in that world.

    In theory, the Guardian could have had a subscription to “deep” demographics that might reveal a lot about any Jeff Condon with an aeronautical background — yes including his first name. But if that’s how they got the information, they should have no problem revealing the same, and should be able to prove they had such a subscription at the time. (Quite a pricey data stream to have it for the entire US.)

  49. Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “One piece of information that led police to question Dennis was the discovery of emails between him and Stephen McIntyre, who runs a sceptic blog in Toronto called Climate Audit. Climate Audit was the first to receive an anonymous link to the leaked data. Dennis subsequently emailed McIntyre to alert him to a University of East Anglia (UAE) message confirming that a leak had occurred.”

    Just asking, Steve, did you have a history of email contact with Paul Dennis? Or is this another part of the attempted smear?

    • Paul Dennis
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 8:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

      man in a barrel,

      Steve and I have communicated over a number of years on various issues and if I recall one of these occasions was to invite him to UEA if he visits the UK. All in I doubt our total correspondence extends to more than 10-15 emails over 4 or 5 years. Steve’s recollection and records may be rather more complete than mine.

      • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 10:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

        in other words, Paul, you had “previous”. Still, it seems ourageous to think that you would have leaked an email archive so potentially damaging to your institution without doing anything internal first. And on this basis, why would you have leaked it to Jeff and the other places? It makes no sense other than mud-slinging that failed to find its target.

      • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Paul,

        I hope you haven’t had any continuing trouble from Climategate rubbish. Leighs article was ridiculous. You send a paper to a blogger and you are plastered across national news for it.

        Feel free to snip this Steve, it may be way too far off topic.

        • Paul Dennis
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

          Jeff, man in a barrel,

          I’ve had absolutely no come back from the continuing climategate issues and can honestly say that both my department and university have been very supportive of me, my research and lab. in the very best traditions of giving academics freedom to research and teach subjects and material that they think are important, stimulating and will lead to new knowledge.

          Like you Jeff I thought Leigh’s article to be ridiculous. It bore no resemblance to our discussions which were largely about climate sensitivity, palaeoclimate data etc. Thus I was surprised when he mentioned in the article the letter which I had written to my then Head of Department in December 2009 which I thought was confidential. In the letter I expressed concern about the way UEA were handling the climategate issue in both the press and television and made suggestions about an open policy with regard to data. I did tell Leigh that the police had copies of my emails and that they had initially got this information from the UEA servers.

          When the Leigh article broke on a Friday I was contacted at home early in the morning by my then Head of Department Jacquie Burgess who, I believe, was genuinely concerned about how I was coping with the pressure. I was amused and told her it was a storm in a tea cup and I had no concerns about the article or any after effects. At that time I had not seen the article despite Leigh promising to send me a draft copy so that I could correct inaccuracies and mis-statements. Had I known that it included the information about my letter to my HoD I would have asked her who at the University released information concerning my letter to her.

          A little later that morning I also received a phone call from the counter terrorism unit apologizing that an article had been published and was there anything they could do to ‘help’. This seemed strange at the time and I thanked them for their concern and said I wasn’t concerned about the article.

          The immediate outcome was that i received several letters of support from fellow academics, a lot of amusing blog discussion at Bishop Hill, WUWT, CA etc. and the laughter of my children who couldn’t believe the photograph the Guardian used to illustrate the article.

          Like Steve, I don’t think this story is about Leigh. He has admitted to telephone hacking in the past and I doubt he hacked any telephones to secure the information he presented in his article. I note the byline also includes the names Charles Arthur and Rob Evans neither of whom I’ve ever had any contact with. What is interesting is the nexus between the different characters identified recently in the blogs and the police.

        • mpaul
          Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

          A little later that morning I also received a phone call from the counter terrorism unit apologizing that an article had been published and was there anything they could do to ‘help’. This seemed strange at the time and I thanked them for their concern and said I wasn’t concerned about the article.

          That is very strange. Why would the police go out of their way to call you to apologize for an article being published? Why would they care? Perhaps they wanted to see how you were reacting to the pressure. A guilty party might display behavioral characteristics under stress that the police look for. So one theory could be that the police planted the article to try to create a stressful environment for you as a way of testing a hypothesis that they had. This theory could be extended to include releasing JeffId’s identity for the same purpose.

          JeffId, were you contacted by the Norfolk Constabulary shortly after your personal information was published?

        • Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

          You’re right to say it’s very strange. The moment I read Paul’s account I took it as an attempt at intimidation. They were boasting in effect that they were the source for the article, that they were responsible. And now they wanted to ‘help’. How nice. Happily Paul was tough enough or secure enough to laugh it off. I’m not sure everyone would have been.

          Once again, why on earth were counter terrorism police tied up on such a case, applying such tricks to Dr Dennis? The current rioting in London is a stark reminder of the challenges we all face coming in to Olympic year. To say that the police in 2009/2010 were not keeping their eye on the ball in this fooling around is a gross understatement. The loss of Paul Stephenson as Commissioner in London through the misdeeds of his juniors like Andy Hayman and John Yates, who were both in charge of counter terrorism, is a real blow at this time, as is the loss of morale of our police.

          The question is who authorised the targeting of Paul Dennis in this way. As I said below this whole push became a miserable failure but the attempt was outrageous. Who on earth authorised this as a counter terrorism operation, controlled who was interviewed as part of that and was party to the leaking of information, no doubt through a third party, to David Leigh?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

          I don’t think that it’s obvious that the police followup with Dennis was the way you read it. Or that the police “targeted” him. I think that you’re overinterpreting. But not much of this makes sense.

        • Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

          Paul is targeted in the article (or singled out). The answer to the question of who authorised this could be David Leigh. That’s if it was all his doing, if for example he received the names and emails of all the people that the counter terrorist police had questioned. If, afterwards, there were members of the police who felt genuinely concerned about this outcome, and called Paul to tell him this … well ok, but I think it’s a stretch. I’m ruling nothing out. I agree that little makes sense.

        • Paul Dennis
          Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

          Richard, could you email me at p dot dennis at uea dot ac dot uk. Thanks,
          Paul

        • Paul Dennis
          Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

          At the time I didn’t sense anything machiavalian in the phone call from the police. It was the same counter terrorism officer who originally interviewed me in December. At the time we got on very well. He visited me twice in December 2009, the second time taking the opportunity of a guided tour of my lab. They didn’t take my computers, or any material other than the copies of the emails I sent to Steve and Jeff at the time of the release of emails. I didn’t see any sense in refusing these as they already had the details from the UEA mail server. They would also have had copies of all my emails and seen my correspondence web etc. so could quickly rule me out. My feeling was that the university, through my HoD and the police were taking some duty of care to protect those that had inadvertently been pulled into the limelight.

          As I said to my HoD I found the Leigh article faintly preposterous and not worthy of any angst on my part. The subsequent cast of characters in relation to recent events at News International is interesting and with the links between these and their modus operandi it’s easy to become drawn into conspiracy theories.

          One amusing outcome was at my local pub I was quickly identified as a Russian spy and offered freed drinks for one evening to celebrate my infamy!

          Finally one question which keeps cropping up is ‘Why the counter-terrorism unit and other special divisions’? Within a few days of the leak there was a meeting amongst all faculty and researchers in ENV when we were appraised of the situation, the steps the university were to take to secure servers, email, data etc. and the role of the police investigation. We were told that this was being directed by the Foreign Office and would involve counter terrorism because of the proximity to Copenhagen. The feeling was that the leak was very much planned to destabilise the talks.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 6:47 AM | Permalink

          We were told that this was being directed by the Foreign Office and would involve counter terrorism because of the proximity to Copenhagen.
          The feeling was that the leak was very much planned to destabilise the talks.

          We’ve all speculated on the leak and no need to review the speculations right now. My own guess (and I have no personal knowledge) is that the leaker stumbled on an open door into the emails that was inadvertently created by CRU in their reaction to the Mole incident in late July 2009 and that the release of the emails came in that context. The particular attention paid to assembling emails on Yamal (and data on Yamal) also suggests to me that the selection was being done in October 2009 when Yamal was a front and center issue at Climate Audit. I think that the Copenhagen timing was a coincidence.

          I can understand that reasonable people can disagree on this point. I can also understand why senior authorities might wish to investigate more lurid theories.

          If they were seriously worried about a hack instigated by foreign intelligence agencies or some SMERSH-type private agency, the subsequent investigation was pretty strange. For example, I was never asked to provide the IP address of the commenter who originally linked to RC in the miracle thread. The IP address seemed to lead nowhere, but surely this would have been the sort of information that an investigation should have. Nor to my knowledge did they collect this information from WUWT or the other blogs. They never even contacted Mosher.

          Their primary interest seemed to be the FOI requests. Many Climate Audit readers were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking them their views on climate change and to provide information on their computers. In this respect, they seemed to have been persuaded by CRU that the FOI requests were themselves a form of insurgency, as opposed to a reaction to dishonest refusals by CRU, which the University unfortunately supported (and continued to support through the whitewashes.)

        • Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

          In this respect, they seemed to have been persuaded by CRU that the FOI requests were themselves a form of insurgency

          Ridiculous but true. All I’d add is that it may not be plausible for little CRU on its own to have been able to do such persuading of Her Majesty’s police. This was a job for the friends of CRU, whoever that may turn out to be. (I seriously know that I don’t know.)

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 4:29 AM | Permalink

          Since some people may be new to the story, I chronicled my exchange with the Norfolk police here. I was never contacted by the anti-terrorism unit.

        • John Whitman
          Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

          CTM,

          Thanks for that refresher of your near real time feedback of the interviews. Better we have the actual immediate reaction.

          John

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

          A thoughtful and articulate response, as I felt at the time, which would have pointed those in charge in the right direction. But is there any evidence that those behind the investigation were interested in the truth? I haven’t seen it.

          Would it be useful to build a table with the following columns: Name, First responder?, Sent FOI to CRU?, Interviewed by which part of Norfolk Police, Nature of contact (email, phone, face to face), Completed Questionnaire?

          I’d count Anthony, Charles the Moderater, Mosh, Jeff Id, Lucia, Tom Fuller and Steve Mc as what I’m calling first responders to FOI2009.zip (though I realise that any definition can be challenged). They would each have an entry in the table. So would anyone that made a FOI request of CRU prior to 17 Nov 09. And anyone else we know of who was questioned by the police as part of the Climategate investigation, such as Paul Dennis.

          Such a summary might shed some light on the fog.

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

          Richard, after a little back and forth, DC Baker ended our correspondence with this which made me (naively) hopeful at the time.

          Dear Mr Rotter,

          Thanks for prompt and comprehensive reply.

          Just so that you are aware there is a separate investigation by an independent body into the way the UEA has conducted themselves with regard to the FOI requests. I can also assure that we have a fair handle on the whole situation but it is the potential “theft” that we are primarily investigating and contacting people such as your self is just one of several lines of enquiry.

          You have answered the vast majority of the questions I would have asked so I am hopeful I can trouble you no further ,however the boss is quite keen for every one to be spoken to so I may give you a brief call next week.

          Kind regards

          Sean.

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

          My mistake, after I had pointed out my prevailing conjecture at the time, it ended with this, on 3/1/2010, (1/3/2010 for you Euros) which made me even more, (more naively) hopeful.

          Hi Charles,

          I fully understand that there is a train of thought that the e-mails were grouped together by someone inside the UEA and you are right to suggest we look at this angle. I will put your original reply and this link into our system and I hope that I will not have to disturb you further. If I do I will of course play close attention to the time.

          Thanks again

          Kind Regards

          Sean

        • John Whitman
          Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 6:56 AM | Permalink

          Paul Dennis,

          Thank you for your view from within UEA during the events that transpired since climategate.

          Also, I think I can appreciate needing a rather keen circumspect approach to comments given that you are still a respected member of the UEA faculty and Norfolk area community.

          Cheers to you! I also would have bought you a brew in your local pub. Za zdorovie!

          John

        • mpaul
          Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

          BTW Paul, I didn’t mean to imply in any way that you were involved in the leak — only that the police might have *suspected* that you were involved and might have been testing you to see how you would react.

        • Posted Aug 15, 2011 at 11:48 PM | Permalink

          Re: Paul Dennis (Aug 9 01:58)

          I’ve had the benefit of one long chat and extended email interaction with Paul Dennis in the last seven days, partly triggered by the various facts and attempts at explanation presented on this thread. We’re both very grateful to our host here for plugging away at these areas. Here are the takeaway points for me:

          1. From the very first, within hours of the leak on 17th Nov 2009, senior people in UEA took this to be an enemy act to sabotage Copenhagen. This may have been sincere belief, though I tend to follow Steve that it’s unlikely that this was the primary motivation of the person(s) responsible.

          2. The story by David Leigh made the front page of the Guardian on 5th Feb 2010 – I’d certainly forgotten it was that prominent – and was an attempt to cast Paul as Climategate antihero. Happily this failed.

          3. This was only two days away from the other big PR push, with the Sunday Times interview with Phil Jones on 7th opening up the monomyth of the wounded hero. This had a profound influence on events the rest of the year.

          4. The policemen who had first-hand contact with Paul at ground level were basically benign; in fact they seemed to him to be going through the motions without much idea why. Whoever was directing them certainly has some big questions to answer – as does anyone whose brainchilds the Guardian and Sunday Times articles were – but I am delighted to put the record straight on this detail.

          5. Paul Dennis is a significant feather in UEA’s cap – showing the benefits of academic freedom in pursuing the important area of clumped isotopes, including for temperature reconstructions – and he seems increasingly recognised as such.

          Though I’ve enjoyed and been influenced by talking to Paul he cannot be held responsible for my interpretations.

        • Posted Aug 16, 2011 at 1:59 AM | Permalink

          From the very first, within hours of the leak on 17th Nov 2009, senior people in UEA took this to be an enemy act to sabotage Copenhagen. This may have been sincere belief, though I tend to follow Steve that it’s unlikely that this was the primary motivation of the person(s) responsible.

          Richard, if this was a case of “sincere belief”, on the part of the upper echelons at UEA, then they can’t possibly have been paying attention to the media reports – from many quarters – in the weeks prior. The message was loud, and it was very clear: Copenhagen was doomed before it started. Actually, this is even more clear to me now than when I mentioned it the other day! Pls. see:

          Of Climategate, constabularies and Copenhagen: coincidences worth considering (Part 1)

          The other thing that makes no sense to me is the continued silence (stonewalling?!) on the part of the Norfolk Constabulary. One of the things they note on their site is that they use “social networking” sites as a source of info in their investigations.

          Surely a few person-days spent lurking here, at TAV, at BH and WUWT checking the posts and comments during the two week period Nov. 15-30 would be sufficient to indicate that those who were promoting the “sabotage Copenhagen” motive were (not to put too fine a point in it) barking up the wrong tree!

          But I totally agree with your comments about Paul Dennis. As I seem to recall saying shortly after he introduced himself – and his blog – to us (circa Jan. 2010?) he’s a breath of fresh air :-)

        • Posted Aug 16, 2011 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

          I read your post before doing mine Hilary and I take the point. I’m not saying the “sincere belief” on 17th and 18th November was rational. I’m just listening to details that only Paul can give, from the inside, and trying to state the facts (or interpret them) as best I can. There is plenty here that is weird. What’s brilliant is that Paul made himself known as a dissident, received the inevitable ‘smear test’ a few weeks later courtesy of Leigh, the Guardian and we presume some sections of the police, and emerged much stronger for it.

  50. Max Beran
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I had in fact mentioned (yesterday 4:30 pm) that the Financial Times had picked up on the story. It got full coverage in the Daily Mail and the Metro (a free sheet distributed on public transport) which obtained a quote from The Guardian repeating its mantra of the never has, never will, quite unthinkable variety.

  51. Viv Evans
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Here is a rather interesting little snippet of information which hints at a possible link between Wallis/NotW and Leigh/Guardian:
    “Data from the Information Commissioner’s “Operation Motorman” shows that the Guardian Media Group paid tens of thousands of pounds to private detectives to illegally procure private information. The very same private detectives employed by News International…”
    (My bold)

    Source:
    http://order-order.com/2011/08/07/news-of-the-world-hacked-thatcher-phone-calls-guardian-used-same-private-detectives-as-news-of-the-world/

    • JohnH
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 1:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

      If this is correct then the floodgates should open as long as the same copious notes which the PI’s made on their dealings with NI are also replicated for The Guardian, its the notes made by the PI that are the basis for all the stories so far on the phone hacking with the exception of the McCartney one which is from Piers Morgans own book.

  52. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 11:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    From Lucia’s link we get:

    “In his article for The Guardian’s media section he defended his actions by writing: ‘There is not a newspaper or TV channel in the country that has not on occasion got down in the gutter and used questionable methods…

    ..Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has campaigned for a full disclosure of what News International executives knew about hacking said there was a need for ‘clarity’ on when journalists were working in the public interest, according to The Times.”

    I think there are more than a few of us who could have seen this coming.

  53. Ed Waage
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There are results of a FOIA request (unrelated to Climategate) to the Norfolk Constabulary which found numerous instances where the police “Accessed and disclosed information from police systems for non policing purpose.”

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/70917/response/180302/attach/3/Response%20Letter.pdf

    Several police officers were dismissed or fined as a result.

    • John Whitman
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 1:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Ed Waage

      Thank you for that info. It establishes the Norfolk Police have a history of disclosure infractions over the time period of the post climategate investigations by Oxburgh, Russel and the police.

      This leads us to inquire whether one of the 2009, 2010 or 2011 disclosure infractions by the Norfolk Police was a climategate related one.

      This is a step toward being specific in questionings the Norfolk Police further.

      John

  54. RoyFOMR
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    @Paul Dennis -Aug 7, 2011 at 11:02 AM
    Until I read your post, I had a very low opinion of the University of East Anglia. I have now altered my position considerably, and in a positive way, about your institution and fellow colleagues.
    The fact that you have not suffered professionally from your interactions with ‘sceptical’ blogs is enormously gratifying and gives me hope for the future of UK academia!
    Judy may, possibly, have started the process of positive engagement in this arena but your open and honest opinion is more than welcomed.
    Thanks Paul and I look forward to your continued contribution to the pursuit of Science.

    Steve: this is an excellent point. Thank you for making it.

    • Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 12:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

      This is exactly what I felt when I read Paul’s post. Academic freedom still counts for something and there are those at UEA that still stand squarely for it. That is very welcome news. (I didn’t say so at once because I felt that this was Steve’s blog and I’d perhaps said enough! Plus I had other things to do the weekend past.)

  55. TrueNorthist
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 5:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I hope you don’t mind, but I have been sending links to your articles on this subject to Ezra Levant at Sun TV. I am not sure if he is interested or not, but I send them anyway. This stuff needs to be on the tube!

    Cheers!

    Steve: Ross McKitrick was on his show recently.

  56. Fred Streeter
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 6:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry if this is a repost, but …

    That Jeff Id was an aeronautical engineer from Morris, Il is present on Watts up with that Jan 26, 2009.

    Given that Jeff’s surname was in the public domain in Jan 2010, it must have been a simple matter to identify him?

    • Mark F
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 6:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      And if you missed a couple of earlier references, calling him and addressing him by his (generally unused and unpublished) first name, Patrick, has the earmarks of an official (as in law enforcement or government records) “leaked” source.

  57. DCC
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, does the time line allow for the possibility that YOUR email system was compromised?

  58. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 7:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “I think a little introspection is in order here — How does our rumaging through all the Climategate messages differ from Leigh’s listening in on private phone conversations? Or someone at UEA leaking a private e-mail between Steve and Dennis which would be on the UEA server? The Briffa MXD and Yamal data, and perhaps a few directly associated emails were legitimate objects of UK FOIA requests, but didn’t the Climategate leak expand to an unwarranted breach of privacy, even if no police officials were involved?”

    Hu, I would think leaking information, if indeed that was the case with the Climategate emails, would be considered in a far different light than hacking telephones. The UEA is a public institution while the phone hacks would be on private parties. Whistle blowers are different than phone hackers. The leaking of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg is certainly not viewed negatively, even though I have heard Ellsberg criticize other leakers for leaking for the incorrect reasons. I suspect we will hear that other news organization have hacked telephones and their defenders will claim that they had proper justifications.

    Once the Genie is out of the bottle it is difficult to put it back in and thus people are going to rummage.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I think a little introspection is in order here — How does our rumaging through all the Climategate messages differ from Leigh’s listening in on private phone conversations? Or someone at UEA leaking a private e-mail between Steve and Dennis which would be on the UEA server? The Briffa MXD and Yamal data, and perhaps a few directly associated emails were legitimate objects of UK FOIA requests, but didn’t the Climategate leak expand to an unwarranted breach of privacy, even if no police officials were involved?

      I think that the David Leigh case does invite some reflection about Climategate.

      My review of the UK legislation satisfied me that there is a journalistic exemption which permitted the Guardian to publish Wikileaks, Climategate letters and the Dennis email, regardless of the legality of the conduct on the part of the original leaker. As I’ve noted above, upon reflection, the Guardian has used illegally distributed information under journalistic exemptions in the past and I cannot see any reason why the exemption wouldn’t apply here. It would not permit the Guardian itself to illegally hack the phones or emails, but they can legally distribute the product. In my view, bloggers can rely on the same exemption.

      In the case of phone hacking, it appears that phone hacking is illegal in the UK even if done for some greater good, that some journalists have gone to prison for phone hacking and that David Leigh should view his present situation with some concern. If someone anonymously had hacked the phone messages and placed them on Youtube, David Leigh could have reported on the messages under UK but would still not be allowed to hack them himself.

      Leigh listened to phone messages by piercing the password. The person who assembled the Climategate dossier is the only person who “rummaged” through the Climategate emails. None of the rest of us have done so. We are merely readers and commenters on the documents.

      In the case of Climategate, the person who released the documents would face some risk if caught. Undoubtedly he/she would try a whistleblower defense, which, under some fact situations, might have a decent chance of success.

      While there seems to be a journalistic exemption for the distribution of documents, the original distributor takes considerable personal risk. Bradley Manning is in jail and is likely to be in jail for a considerable period of time, while the Guardian and New York Times can publish the documents with impunity. Does this make sense? I think that reasonable people can differ on this, but the law seems fairly clear.

      The Climategate documents raise questions regardless of the legality of the original distribution. Graham Stringer made this point forcefully to Acton when Acton started pontificating about criminality. Stringer observed with some annoyance that the former Speaker of the House had placed more priority on prosecuting the leak of MP expenses rather than the public concern about the expenses themselves and he was now the former Speaker – inviting Acton to consider the moral.

      • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Leigh’s article was written in 2006. Is there now any reason for believing that phone hacking was involved in any climategate matter?

        • TerryMN
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

          Not phone hacking, but it seems that he got information from the police that they were not supposed to give, and that he was not supposed to receive. Do you have any reason to think otherwise, Nick?

          Steve: As I’ve said on a number of occasions now, I am persuaded that Leigh is not bound by whether the information was released by the police legally or not. To the extent that there’s an issue, it is with the police conduct and with the conduct of the university.

        • Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

          No, no reason. I just wondered why the continuing references specifically to phone hacking.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 7, 2011 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

          Have you been reading the newspapers, Nick? David Leigh is being summoned for questioning by the police.

          I think that “noble cause corruption” is a useful framework for examining Climategate conduct. Therefore other examples of noble cause corruption may be useful in understanding the climate scientists. Leigh’s phone hacking is a striking example of noble cause corruption – where he thought nothing of illegality/misconduct because his cause was “good”.

        • Posted Aug 14, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

          “he thought nothing of illegality/misconduct because his cause was “good””

          That goes too far. You can’t say he “thought nothing” of it.

          Looking at the output of the majority of tabloid (and some broadsheet) hacks, it would be fair to say that various illegal measures were employed on an ad-hoc basis in pursuit of pointless tittle-tattle – no agonising over the ethics or legality of the matter in that situation, just BAU.

          Nowhere near as clear cut as that in Leigh’s case – it’s entirely plausible that he gave serious consideration to what he was doing and decided it was justified.

      • mpaul
        Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

        There are conditions that one could imagine where the the leaker would face no risks whatsoever – so I think it is premature to assume that the leaker was involved in wrong doing. Two potential circumstance where the leaker would not have violated any laws would be:

        (1) the leaker was a legitimate recipient of the emails. If I get a letter from my Aunt Eloise and I post that letter to the internet, I have broken no laws unless I had a prior contract with Aunt Eloise to keep the letter confidential.
        (2) the emails were pre-compiled, assembled into a document, and then put on the public internet (perhaps on an un-indexed url). The leaker discovered the un-indexed page and simply published the document to another url on the public internet.

  59. Alexander K
    Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It matters not one wit how the matter is sliced, the Police and the Press do not look all that confidence-inspiring, let alone law-abiding. For David Leigh to tell his students that it’s okay to access private information for a ‘noble cause’ demonstrates his own tarnished values and for him to claim the moral high ground sullies that patch of earth more than a little.
    None of this surprises me, however; I learnt through hard experience as a teenager that both the police and the press are as honest and morally upright as they feel they can afford to be.
    Some good has come from this, however; Paul Dennis’ support from colleagues and his institution is excellent news and gives the ordinary citizen who is following this affair the feeling that there is still much to be cheerful and hopeful about.
    I am grateful that Steve has the fortitude to follow things so carefully and even-handedly.

  60. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “While there seems to be a journalistic exemption for the distribution of documents, the original distributor takes considerable personal risk. Bradley Manning is in jail and is likely to be in jail for a considerable period of time, while the Guardian and New York Times can publish the documents with impunity. Does this make sense? I think that reasonable people can differ on this, but the law seems fairly clear.”

    I would suppose that an astute news organization could see to it that their organization was not directly involved in any illegal activity, but had outside sources who could and would do the dirty deeds. Having a police department provide information not available readily or legally by a news organization would appear to a dangerous partnership. Police can obtain search warrants and that obtained information, I would think, would not be available for general viewing.

  61. MikeN
    Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m pretty sure I knew before ClimateGate that Jeff Id was from Illinois.

  62. Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Richard Drake, as I have mentioned before I was never interviewed by the police, so whatever their selection criterion were simply making an FOI request didn’t automatically qualify me for inclusion.

    • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 3:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yep, I had picked that up Jonathan and that’s one of the reasons I thought it would be helpful for all amateur sleuths to compile a single page that made clear what proportion of FOIers got a call or email from the police – and if so, from anti-terrorist or other. Steve Mosher also didn’t get any inquiry at all, which I find very strange, given what actually happened. And Charles the Moderator wasn’t considered dangerous enough to trigger the anti-terrorist wing! I’ve also had the opportunity of a long talk with Paul Dennis, from which I learned a lot, but Paul is busy with a workshop till tomorrow night. Expect more on this after that.

      • Ed Snack
        Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

        FWIW, I believe I put up an FOI request for confidentiality agreements, and have not been contacted by anyone subsequently. I am located reasonably geographically far away from the UK but my email address was supplied.

        Obviously just one of the great unwashed and unworthy of any attention !

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

          Ed, I knew once one started to ask the question it would feel something like Oscar Wilde: “There’s only one thing worse than being investigated by Norfolk Police and that’s not being investigated by Norfolk Police.” I join you in the ignominy of not even being worth their attention. Put at least you qualify for the summary table I mooted, through making a FOI request of CRU. Sometimes my obscurity is hard to bear!

      • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Not wanting to over complicate this, but there may be benign filters at work overlapping the more directed intent filters. My email address is specific to a domain I own. Mosher’s email was gmail or hotmail. They may have simply limited some of their efforts to the more traceable addresses, private domains, company domains, institutional domains, and let the potentially anonymous ones fall to the bottom of the barrel, which they never got around to after the disappointing initial results.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

          Nonetheless it’s very hard to explain how a rational investigation could fail to at least inquire about the IP addresses used to notify the existence of the Climategate dossier, while spending time inquiring about the views on climate change of numerous people who had done no more than send an FOI request for the non-existent confidentiality agreements. It’s certainly more like Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes.

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          have you thought of asking the police complaints commission about this….or the Home Office…would have said IPCC but that is too ambiguous…

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

          I don’t disagree. I get the impression that they were lazily shaking branches full of what someone, not necessarily the investigators, thought of as “dissidents”, hoping they would spook someone into saying something incriminating, but were so lazy that they didn’t bother to shake the branches that might be a little hard to reach. The big fish, probably identified by the UEA to the investigators, the leaders of the perceived “dissidents”, such as yourself, merited the attention of the counter-terrorism unit.

          On another note, and I may have mentioned this at the time, I don’t remember, we live in an age where all types of activities, suicide bombings, riots, peaceful demonstrations, any type of computer hacking, whistle-blowing, letters to the editor, are increasingly lumped to varying degrees under the label TERRORISM. Specifically, all types of computer hacking tend to fall under anti-terrorism laws in the US and I presume the UK as well, so as weird as it seemed at the time, the counter-terrorism unit is exactly who would be called in to investigate any accusations of computer hacking.

          I’m not defending or justifying any actions of the UEA and it’s cohorts in these events, I’m simply noting that some ordinary procedures overlap some of the more insidious behaviors.

        • Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

          crap. its cohorts. I know better.

        • kim
          Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

          Often, the right little finger isn’t under conscious control.
          =========

      • mpaul
        Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 11:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Here’s how my contact with the police unfolded. I got an email to the gmail account that I used to send in my FOIA for the confidentiality agreements. Because of this, I assumed that it was my FOIA that sparked the interest from the police. I use a different email address when I post to CA or other climate blogs. The email requested a phone interview. I was happy to comply. The interviewer was with the anti-terrorism group – but at the time I though he was a beat cop from the constabulary. The officer took down my particulars and then asked me about what I did for a living, how I got involved in the global warming debate, what my views on global warming were, what kind of computer I used, what operating system (interesting question) and who my internet service provider was. He thanked me for the information and that was the last I heard from them.

  63. DaleC
    Posted Sep 1, 2011 at 9:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    David Leigh is in the news again:

    http://www.theage.com.au/technology/security/wikis-raw-files-leaked-on-web-20110901-1joao.html

    “THE entire unedited collection of diplomatic cables held by WikiLeaks has been leaked on the internet, in what is a disaster for the United States and a damaging blow to the whistleblowing website.
    ……
    It is believed the leak happened partly because a senior journalist at The Guardian, David Leigh, included the password in his book, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

    The password was useless without the correct file. Over the past two days, that file was identified and made public.”

  64. Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I congratulate you on your dogged determination to miss the point.

    I’m sure many of us would wish you to join you in congratulating Nick in this regard. But missing the point is possible whatever viewpoint one starts with. I can’t help feeling there may be others, even myself. For this story is by now very strange.

    Let me divide it up into assumptions and questions. Here are my assumptions. The UEA PR fightback against the terrible publicity it was getting about Climategate included persuading the police to deploy their counter-terrorism unit in order to emphasize not only that Climategate was a crime but a crime committed by some of the most dangerous people on the planet.

    Actually, let’s stop right there. How did UEA and its friends gain that power, to so misuse the UK’s anti-terror legislation and law enforcement officers? Oh well.

    Part of the plan was that some of the officers concerned would openly identify themselves as counter-terrorism police in interviewing people like Steve McIntyre, Ross McKitrick and Jeff Condon, whom UEA regarded as enemies given their ambitions to remain at the forefront of climate science research. They were to ask people to fill out questionnaires, then leak the details to a journalist who was willing to do the dirty.

    No no no, these can’t be a valid assumptions. The world cannot be that warped, surely. Someone – even Nick Stokes – please help me.

    Another assumption. The arrival of David Leigh on the Climategate scene was meant to make a major difference. Here was the man who had pretty much single-handedly brought down the John Major government through the “Cash for Questions” scandal. Rumour had it that he may not be overly concerned with the finer points of truth and fair play but by gum, he was effective.

    The result? Jeff had a shock in receiving a call asking for Patrick (and unsuccessfully asked for his real name and location to be removed from the article), Bishop Hill gave the chap a nice cup of tea, as ever, and Paul Dennis’s children had a terrific laugh about the ridiculous photo of their Dad, as Leigh and friends did their utmost to smear him. But the information received by Leigh from the counter-terrorism police, with Neil Wallis perhaps greasing the wheels, achieved basically diddly-squat. Nobody took a blind bit of notice. Even Dennis’s bosses at UEA were fully supportive (even though are remaining questions about how this and that became known).

    David Leigh came back from Scotland and East Anglia with his tail between his legs. The worst of the dirty tricks the whole team could come up with had exposed his side’s moral squalor but done precious little else.

    There were some other questions but really I’m not sure I have the energy. What exactly was Neil Wallis’s role in all this? And so on.

    What remains true, I think, is that it was only the ‘poor Phil’ PR strategy that gained any traction at all, with the disgraceful analogy with David Kelly, as fed to Jones by Richard Girling, his Sunday Times interviewer, on 7th February 2010. But this nearby cul-de-sac of a story by David Leigh is interesting only in showing how low the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ operation was willing to go. Thank goodness it was such an embarrassing failure.

  65. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 8, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The term “Empire Strikes Back” was, ironically, first used in the Climategate emails by Phil Jones himself in an email to Mann on May 20, 2005, reporting that Jones had just finished his pal review of the resubmission of Wahl and Ammann to Climatic Change.

  66. Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What remains true, I think, is that it was only the ‘poor Phil’ PR strategy that gained any traction at all, with the disgraceful analogy with David Kelly, as fed to Jones by Richard Girling, his Sunday Times interviewer, on 7th February 2010.

    Richard, I think there was more to the OO “strategy” than the “poor Phil” stream. The fog of time has perhaps covered the fact that despite the run-up hype to Copenhagen, there were stories in the press indicating that some were anticipating failure (mostly because of the cost – and the developed/developing divide) e.g. Vergano, Nov. 24, 2009 in USA Today – so Climategate became a very convenient scapegoat; IMHO the Climategate-Copenhagen connection always struck me as being somewhat hokey (and it was used by the Norfolk Police circa the first anniversary!)

    Ben Webster had a piece in The Times on Dec. 7 with headline “Climate e-mails were hijacked ‘to sabotage summit’”. IPCC Vice Chair, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, UNEP’s Achim Steiner & UNFCCC’s Yvo de Boer were all quoted. Ironically, de Boer (who stepped down and moved on to greener pastures shortly after Copenhagen) was the most reasonable of this triumvirate:

    [de Boer] said that the stolen e-mails looked “very bad” and were fuelling scepticism, but said the media scrutiny was not unwelcome. Mr de Boer said: “I think it’s very good that what is happening is being scrutinised in the media because this process has to be based on solid science. If quality and integrity is being questioned, that has to be examined.”

    And less than a week later (Dec. 12), Seth Borenstein had that very shallow AP piece splattered across front pages of several newspapers (at least on this side of the pond!)

    It is difficult to imagine that UEA/CRU would not have been aware of these upcoming stories circa Dec. 1 (when Jones stepped down and they announced “investigations”) if such stories had been in the works at the time they are presumed (at least by me!) to have called on the services of OO’s Wallis and Bowen. In the Music World piece, Bowen (the OO “strategy” guy) is quoted as saying:

    “They needed someone with heavyweight contacts who could come in and sort things out, and next week there was a front-page story telling it from their side.”

    I’ve no idea how this all ties in with Leigh, but my guess is that one of these days we’ll see some dotted lines that connect Wallis, Hayman and Leigh (all of whom strike me as being very unsavoury characters!)

  67. Craig Loehle
    Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I seem to recall that the counter-terrorism unit was called in because it had expertise in computer hacking–though apparently not so much expertise to solve the case after 2 yrs almost.

  68. Posted Aug 9, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hilary (hro001), good point about Climategate being a useful excuse for Copenhagen failure. Certainly there was a big push to convince people that the leak was motivated by an twisted desire to destroy the planet’s last chance for reduced carbon salvation. Insofar as insiders knew that Copenhagen would have failed anyway I agree with you. (Do they have that level of self-knowledge and realism? How many do? Interesting questions.)

    I’ve been concentrating mostly on the PR task post-Copenhagen. I think it’s right that the ‘poor Phil’ trope gained the most traction – just by looking at how many news articles emerged with this angle from 7th February, in time to skew and soften the questioning at the select committee hearing and the way all the inquiries were framed. Compared to ‘Paul Dennis the evil mastermind of Climategate – because he’d had contact with He Who Must Not Be Named and Unmentionable in Illinois’. That story fell out of the sky like a lead balloon. The simplicity and emotional punch of the message is everything in these areas – as Wallis would know well from from his NOTW days. But they were willing to try different approaches just in case.

    I’ve no idea how this all ties in with Leigh, but my guess is that one of these days we’ll see some dotted lines that connect Wallis, Hayman and Leigh (all of whom strike me as being very unsavoury characters!)

    It wouldn’t surprise me either. What most interests me right now though is whether Leigh’s reticence when confronted by an aggrieved tallbloke in June might not be evidence of a really unexpected twist – a tiny bit of conscience from someone intimate with the darker side of Fleet Street. But sorry to push the boat out so, I’ll try to stay within plausibility from now on :)

  69. mpaul
    Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The ‘poor Phil’ story was absolutely the outcome of a PR strategy. These days, there are two way that stories wind up in print or online. The first is the old-fashioned way — organic journalism. A reporter gets a lead and follows it, collects information and writes a story. The second way (which has become all too common) is for a PR firm or advocacy group to ‘package up’ a story and pitch it to journalists. Whenever a story like the ‘poor Phil’ story breaks simultaneously across many outlets, all of which include the exact same facts, its a clear indicator that a PR firm packaged the story and pitched it broadly.

    PR firms are good at sensing the over-arching narratives of editors and positioning stories into those narratives. So its not a case of the press being in cahoots with the UEA, rather its that the story that got pitched resonated well with the narratives of the editors. PR firms are also good at making a reporter’s job easy. If the story is mostly written, then the reported saves a lot of time and doesn’t need to work very hard. This can be a powerful incentive for a reporter: submit the easy story rather than put in a lot of overtime doing organic journalism.

    BTW, I’m sensitive to Phil Jones’ situation. I do think he was suffering during this period. I’ve always viewed him as a bit of a tragic figure; a journeyman academic who got swept up by the fame and nobility of the cause. So I think the story of Phil’s suffering was accurate and true. However UEA’s use of Phil’s suffering as a PR strategy to deflect criticism from them seemed a bit tawdry.

  70. mpaul
    Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Let me expand of this point just a bit.

    One of the hottest topics in PR circles over the past few years has been Joseph Campbell’s concerning classical myth. Campbell asserts that the most powerful myths in every culture throughout the world all follow a similar architecture that he calls the “monomyth”. The basic structure of the monomyth as described by Campbell is:

    “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

    PR firms have found that if they cast their stories into the monomyth structure, they have a much better chance of getting those stories picked up by the media.

    When I first saw the ‘poor Phil’ stories, my reaction was that this was an attempt to re-frame climategate into the monomyth.
    Before the ‘poor Phil’ stories, the narrative was ‘corrupt scientists get caught hiding the decline’. The ‘poor Phil’ story washed this narrative away and replaced it with an epic story of human struggle.

    The monomyth constructed by OO begins with an ordinary human (our man Phil) in an ordinary world (the verdant campus of academia). Phil receives a call to take on a perilous task. At first he is reluctant but later agrees out of a sense of duty (to his grand kids).

    He begins his odyssey and enters the netherworld; a place inhabited by dark supernatural creates (skeptics and blogosphere types) with evil intentions. Our hero Phil then undertakes a series of increasingly difficult trials where he does battle with the supernatural creatures.

    Now, here’s where the real brilliance of the PR guys came in …

    During one of the battles, the supernatural creatures figure out how to exploit one of our hero’s weaknesses and slay our hero (because remember, our man Phil is an ordinary frail human. And human’s are not without sin or failings. Everyone’s inbox contains these sorts of things after all).

    This then sets the stage for the next act …

    But the god’s (Sir Muir and his band of fine and excellent experts) intervene our of a sense of justice and our hero is reborn (cleared of all charges). Phil returns to the ordinary world with new powers, just in time to save the world from imminent destruction.

    So the poor Phil story completely re-framed the narrative and turned a hostile press into fans who were cheering for our hero.
    I think UEA got their money’s worth from OO and Wallis.

  71. KnR
    Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 3:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I would take Phil ‘suffering ‘ to have more value if he had not plotted to avoided FOI requests before CRU had even got any . In fact any ‘suffering’ for Phil is as a direct result of his actions before climate-gate without which we would never have know what he and the rest of the Team where up to.
    And lets remember he was more than happy to enjoy the limelight when it was all going well , and no grant created on the back of ‘research’ was turned becasue they knew they been playing fast and lose in this research.

  72. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 5:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    mpaul,

    I was aware of the ‘hero with a thousand faces’. Hollywod productions have numerous examples (Star Wars is a classic one). Now that you explain how someone might have recast Phil Jones as one is an elegant solution to why and how the ‘poor Phil’ story occurred, possibly by the hands of a PR outfit

    I do not know if such sophistication existed within OO. Does it appear to you it had that level of ability?

    The theme could be also playing out for Mann and even for the IPCC or EPA.

    So far the theme appears little used for the underdog hero skeptic. Interesting.

    John

  73. j ferguson
    Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 5:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    mpaul,
    this is a very useful way to look at this. The idea of “Poor Phil” as myth-making makes the role of the Outsiders more plausible.

    I had thought of “poor Phil” as having realized that his 25 years of work was flawed and that the flaws would be disclosed if someone looked closely, hence not the fear that someone would “try” to find something wrong but that they “would” find something wrong.

  74. mpaul
    Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    John, in my day job, I have occasion to deal with a lot of PR firms. Mythic constructs are a really hot topic with this crowd at the moment. OO is a top tier firm and there is no doubt in my mind that they would be aware of and utilizing the monomyth structure for story telling.

  75. Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 12:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I do not know if such sophistication existed within OO. Does it appear to you it had that level of ability?
    [...]
    So far the theme appears little used for the underdog hero skeptic.

    Considering the “resources” OO had at their disposal, I don’t think there can be any doubt that they had that level of ability.

    Probably the only “mistake” that OO made was their very indiscreet (and overconfident?!) bragging to Music World about their role in (what they called) their “climategate job”. But that was in Sept. 2010 – by which time all “enquiries” had accomplished their respective “missions”.

    I would not be at all surprised to learn that UEA’s contract with OO probably ended very shortly after the Aug. 31/10 release of the pre-publication version of the IAC’s report on the IPCC … nothing in there that directly impugned or impinged upon UEA’s “reputation”. But I digress …

    Here’s an item that appeared March 31/10, on the U.K.’s Channel 4 News. It has all the elements that mpaul described (and as a “bonus” they threw in a very thinly veiled attempt to villainize Steve, our “underdog hero skeptic”):

    http://www.channel4.com/news/climategate-the-emails-behind-a-scientific-storm.

    Hilary

  76. kim
    Posted Aug 10, 2011 at 11:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ironically, we are witnessing the organic growth of a breed of monomythological figures.
    ==============

  77. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    mpaul,

    Thank you for your assessment of OO’s ability to do monomyth PR.

    Cheers.

    John

  78. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 7:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hilary=>hro001,

    The late Michael Crichton could have done a good job on some positive ‘underdog hero skeptic’ projection via the monomyth and ‘hero of a thousand faces’ archetype.

    John

  79. Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hilary, John: Christopher Booker is also worth bearing in mind, given that his masterwork is not something anti-Euro or anti-CAGW (though he does both very well) but ‘The Seven Basic Plots’. Recommended for everyone’s Christmas stocking.

  80. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 9:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Richard Drake,

    Thanks for the recommendation; I will look at ‘The Seven Basic Plots’.

    Cheers.

    John

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