Bishop Hill reports that UEA have released a portion of their correspondence and documents with Neil Wallis and Outside Organisation (see here); correspondence here. They have claimed exemptions for much of the request.
Under s.36(2)(b)(i) & (ii), they claimed that “release of some of the requested information would, or would be likely, to inhibit the free & frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberations”. Under s 40(2), They claimed that some of the information WAS “Personal information”. Under s. 41(1), they claimed that “disclosure of information would … constitute an actionable breach of confidence”. Under s 43(2), they said that “disclosure of information would, or would be likely, to prejudice the commercial interests of a person as defined by the Act”.
The limited information made available did clarify some points. Wallis seems to arrive on the scene in February 2010, not in early December 2009 (as speculated in my recent post here.) Thus the front page article for which Wallis claimed credit was not the Ben Webster article of December 4, 2009 but two Richard Girling articles in Murdoch’s Sunday Times on February 7, 2010 – here and here. These started or promoted many memes of the Empire Strikes Back phase of Climategate: blaming CRU misconduct since 2003 on FOI requests in late July 2009, focusing on the “poor Phil” meme, associating Jones with the honorable David Kelly, building up the alleged “death threats”.
As noted in stories about Wallis’ recent arrest in connection with the phone hacking scandal, Wallis, a former News of the World editor, maintained close connections with the Murdoch newspapers, which may have assisted him with obtaining a prominent placement for the poor Phil article.
Acton and Davies were delighted with the Times article.
Wallis seems to have been behind the tactic of offering up Jones for this one interview with a soft interviewer and then closing down access. (Briffa has avoided being interviewed altogether.)
Other emails show that Wallis and Outside Organisation prepped Acton and Phil Jones for their appearance before the Parliamentary Committee. If the resulting appearances represented improvement on their pre-coaching standards, one can only wonder at what they were like before coaching by Outside Organisation. Both Acton and Jones were savaged by the London press – see contemporary CA report here.
Acton was described by Quentin Letts as follows:
Professor Edward Acton… provided much-needed comic relief. Professor Acton, a younger version of Professor Calculus from the Tintin books, beamed and nodded at everything Professor Jones said. ‘I think that answer was spot-on,’ he cried, after listening to one response from the terror-stricken Jones.
Professor Acton’s left eyebrow started doing a little jiggle of its own. His eyeballs bulged with admiration for the climate-change supremo. His lips were pulled so wide in wonderment they must nearly have split down the
seams like banana skins.
Letts described Jones as follows:
Others, watching the tremulous Professor Jones, will have been less impressed. He may be right about man-made climate change. But you do rather hope that politicians sought second, third, even 20th opinions before swallowing his theories and trying to change the world’s industrial output.
I guess he didn’t get Neil Wallis’ memo.
Wallis and Outside Organisation appear to have been on retainer from February through at least April. The closing emails report Wallis being invited to attend a “do” by Acton and invited to stay at Wood Hall.
The new information also shows even more conclusively the ridiculousness of the Joe Romm/Keith Olbermann theory that the Murdochs had sabotaged East Anglia’s public relations. Quite the contrary. It seems that the Murdoch papers had helped East Anglia and that the university was delighted with their coverage in the Murdoch press.