More Tricks from East Anglia

David Holland’s recent FOI has yielded more unbelievable assertions from the University that inspired the Monty Python sketch on idiocy. The FOI request was directed at untrue evidence given to Parliament by UEA Vice Chancellor Acton in connection with the notorious deletion of emails by Briffa, Jones and associates.

CA readers will recall Jones’ notorious email in response to David Holland’s FOI request.

subject: IPCC & FOI
Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith [Briffa] will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise.

Unavailable at the time was an email a few days later from Jones to Palutikoff of the Met Office, reporting that Briffa and Osborn had removed sensitive emails from their work computers onto memory sticks.

Keith and Tim have moved all their emails from all the named people off their PCs and they are all on a memory stick.

A few weeks later, UEA refused Holland’s FOI 08-31 on the grounds that they did not have any unresponsive emails (the responsive emails having been removed.)

In July 2008 (in a CG2 email), Briffa notified FOI officer Palmer and UEA administrator Macgarvie that UEA no longer held he had already removed the “vast majority” of his IPCC correspondence, which he had removed to private storage

UEA does not hold the very vast majority of mine [IPCC emails]anyway which I copied onto private storage after the completion of the IPCC task.

Jones’ deletion request was in CG1 and occasioned considerable controversy at the outbreak of Climategate. As discussed at the time, the Information Commissioner concluded that the email provided “cogent prima facie evidence” of an offence, but there was a six-month statute of limitations and the Information Commissioner did not carry out an investigation. Nor, despite his mandate, did Muir Russell, in a policy of seemingly wilful blindness. Worse, Muir Russell made obtusely untrue findings on email deletion, which Fred Pearce sharply criticizing, hoping that Muir Russell’s untrue findings were “more cock-up than conspiracy”:

And, when someone asked for the emails that would have exposed it, they hastily deleted them – a potential breach of freedom of information (FoI) law.

The Muir Russell inquiry said it found no evidence that the CRU scientists had done this. Observers were incredulous. The chronology seemed straightforward. British sceptic David Holland submitted an FoI request to the university asking for emails in which CRU scientists discussed their work for the IPCC. Two days later, Jones sent an email to colleagues asking them to delete emails relating to the behind-the-scenes work for IPCC. That email, as Montford points out, carried Holland’s FoI number as its subject line.

How did Sir Muir miss this? In a development not covered by Montford, the university has since admitted, in correspondence with blogger Steve McIntyre, that it omitted the email from its list of FoI requests sent to Sir Muir. So Sir Muir seems to have been about the only person studying the affair not to have known about it.

This is all, we may hope, cock-up rather than conspiracy. But the university did itself no favours in its own response to Sir Muir last week, when it expressed its satisfaction that he had found no evidence of such culpable deletions. Advice to UEA: when in a hole, stop digging

Disquiet over the perverse obtuseness of Muir Russell on this point was one of the reasons why the Science and Technology Committee recalled Muir Russell and Acton to testify in fall 2010. In written evidence to the Committee, Acton and the UEA (falsely) stated the “potential email deletion” urged in the first Jones email “did not take place”.

We have established that the potential email deletion which gave rise to the ICO’s concern did not take place, and the University has received undertakings from the CRU staff most notably involved in the emails that they will fully comply with the letter and spirit of Freedom of Information requests. Extracts from statements they have made on this subject are provided in appendix F.

Acton’s assertion that the “email deletion…did not take place” is not supported by CG2 correspondence (or by subsequent UEA FOI refusals on the grounds that the emails had been deleted.) Unfortunately, CG2 emails were not then available and Acton’s evidence could not be directly rebutted at the hearing.

Appendix F, referred to above, was headed “EXTRACTS FROM STATEMENTS BY PHIL JONES AND KEITH BRIFFA CONCERNING EMAIL DELETION” and was as follows:

Phil Jones
“As I have said on a number of occasions I do delete emails from time to time-this is usually as part of a regular clear out but sometimes as I go along”. “Most people seem to do the same to keep their email account manageable and because we are regularly reminded when storage space on our email system is nearly full”. “There is also an environmental and economic cost to storing emails so it seems to me that it is not good practice just to keep everything” “It would be very difficult to guess what might be asked for in future so I don’t go around deleting emails just because they might be asked for at some point.” “I have previously confirmed that I have never knowingly deleted an email that was the subject of an active Freedom of Information request and neither have I deleted data”.

Keith Briffa
“For my part I wish to assure you that I have not knowingly deleted emails or files that were at the time subject to a request under FOIA or EIR, and will not do so in the future”. “I also assure you that I will not suggest to anyone that they should delete emails or files subject to similar requests under FOIA or EIR”. “I will use whatever means at my disposal to encourage greater openness and proactive compliance with FOIA and EIR within the CRU and the wider University.”

Briffa testified that he had not “knowingly deleted emails or files that were at the time subject to a request under FOIA or EIR”. Jones’ didn’t say anything about “files”, stating “I have previously confirmed that I have never knowingly deleted an email that was the subject of an active Freedom of Information request and neither have I deleted data”. Should we pay attention to Jones’ failure to include “files” in his statement.

BTW the unexpurgated Sommer report casts doubt on the veracity of Jones’ testimony that his deletions of emails were anything other than opportunistic. The Sommer report stated that “there are 22018

  • unread emails in [Jones'] most recent “In” mbx.” [bold in original]. This is hardly consistent with Jones’ evidence to Parliament about “regular clearout” and inbox management.

    After Muir Russell had admitted to the Committee that he hadn’t even asked Jones or Briffa about email deletion, Acton piped up that he had done an investigation. Stringer asked Acton whether he had asked them “under caution”: Acton re-iterated that the emails can be produced and had not been deleted i.e. the matter was entirely moot.

    Q95 Graham Stringer: Did you ask them under caution?

    Professor Edward Acton: The relationship that I have with them is rather different. It is absolutely part of my duty to address that kind of spirit and make sure I drive it out of the university and establish the facts. Can those e-mails be produced? Yes, they can. Did those who might have deleted them say they deleted them? No. They say they did not. I wanted to be absolutely sure of those two, and I have established that to my satisfaction.

    Stringer then asked Acton whether he had “recorded” the meetings with Jones (Stringer having unsuccessfully urged Muir Russell to make transcripts or recordings of his interviews):

    Q96 Graham Stringer: And you recorded those meetings with Professor Jones and his team?

    Now watch the pea. Acton’s answer was totally unresponsive: instead of answering Stringer’s question, he said that the statements have been on their website for “some time”:

    Professor Edward Acton: If you examine our website you will find that these statements have been there for some time.3

    Acton later corrected the record, saying that the statements had been on the Committee’s website since September 2, 2010 (when the UEA written submission was placed online.)

    Holland’s FOI Request

    In November 2012, David Holland asked pertinent questions about the “extracts” from the statements from Briffa and Jones:

    On page Ev 32 of the Report HC 444 of the Commons Science and Technology Committee published on 25 January 2011 are extracts of statements from Professors Jones and Briffa. For your convenience I reproduce them below this request.
    [1] Please advise me the date on which each of these statements were given by the Professors.
    [2] Please give me an electronic copy of each full statement.
    [3] If not shown for any reason on these statements as disclosed please advise me if each was duly signed.

    Pretty simple questions about Acton’s “investigation”. A copy of the full statement from which the extracts were made. The date of the statements. Whether they were signed.

    Here are the unbelievable answers from the UEA:

    [1] Please advise me the date on which each of these statements were given by the Professors.

    [Information not held - s.1(1)(a), Freedom of Information Act]
    The University holds no recorded information that confirms the exact dates that the statements were prepared by the Professors.

    [2] Please give me an electronic copy of each full statement.

    [Information not held - s.1(1)(a), Freedom of Information Act]
    The University does not hold a copy of the full statement of either Professor Briffa or Professor Jones.

    [3] If not shown for any reason on these statements as disclosed please advise me if each was duly signed.

    [Information not held - s.1(1)(a), Freedom of Information Act]
    The University holds no recorded information that would indicate whether either statement was signed by either Professor Briffa or Professor Jones.

    If Acton carried out the investigation that he claimed in his evidence to Parliament, how could the UEA not be in possession of the full statements? And how could they not have information on the dates of the statements or whether they were signed? What does this imply about Acton’s “investigation” and the supposed “full” statements by Jones and Briffa?

    Did Acton even interview Jones and Briffa about the email deletion? I wonder. At this point, I doubt whether there is anything other than “extracts”? I wonder whether Jones and Briffa even signed off on the statements attributed to them. (If they did, why wouldn’t there be some record?) How did Acton “establish” that the “potential” deletion of emails from UEA property did not take place, given that there is unequivocal documentary evidence that Briffa and others did in fact remove emails from UEA.

    I am struggling to try to figure out an honest explanation of these facts, but thus far, cannot think of one. If anyone can provide an interpretation of this information that is not damning to UEA, I’d appreciate it.


  • 60 Comments

    1. Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 1:53 AM | Permalink

      [Information not held - s.1(1)(a), Freedom of Information Act]

      We categorically deny that it is untrue that this University holds no recorded information that we have ever not been at war with Eastasia.

      w.

      • Manniac
        Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

        A joke supposedly smuggled out of North Korea:

        Child: “Mom, I’m hungry. I want rice.”
        Mother: “I’m sorry, child. There’s no rice left.”
        Child: “No rice! Why is there no rice? Our kindergarten teacher told us that if General Kim Jong Il points his finger to sand, it turns into rice. So, why is there no rice in our house?”
        Mother: “Well, that’s a lie. No, what I actually meant to say was that’s a matter of deeply rooted belief.”
        Child: “Mom, what’s deeply rooted belief?”
        Mother: “Well, it’s a lie you’re supposed to believe.”

    2. geronimo
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 4:34 AM | Permalink

      Welcome back, sorely missed.

      As I read through these denials of deletion it struck me that they might be being economical with the truth in so far as they could say that emails that had been removed from the UEA servers to other locations weren’t, strictly speaking, “deleted” but “moved”. I wouldn’t put it past them to do so, they have demonstrated extreme naivete previously, naivete that with a less compliant establishment would have gotten them into serious trouble.

      And yet they persist, to paraphrase you’re ,”What were they thinking”, statement, “What are they thinking”, this will in the goodness of time, or a change of heart by the estabishment, all come out. They are doomed, there names will go down in scientific infamy, but I suppose if I was in their position I’d try my best to make sure I delayed that day as long as possible.

    3. maxberan
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 5:18 AM | Permalink

      Small point but you should check whether Jean Palutikof (one f) was “of the Met Office”. I thought she moved from CRU to Griffith.

      • maxberan
        Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 5:52 AM | Permalink

        Ignore – she was also at IPCC support office at Hadley Centre.

    4. RichieRich
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 5:41 AM | Permalink

      There appears to be some words missing here.

      In July 2008 (in a CG2 email), Briffa notified FOI officer Palmer and UEA administrator Macgarvie that UEA no longer held he had already removed the “vast majority” of his IPCC correspondence, which he had removed to private storage

    5. kim
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

      False witness to the face
      Of the Parliamentary Mum;
      Harness up the horses,
      There’s drawing to be done.
      ====================

    6. knr
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

      The ‘investigation’ into CRU was a joke they failed to follow even the basic procedures for such processes , so its hardly a surprise to find that Briffa, Jones and associates could get away with such bare faced lies and that Acton backed them up in this .
      Jones long planned to aviod FOI requests before he even got one while it seems CRU information officer ,whose job was to enforce the FOI act ,allowed themselves to be played for a sucker . Its stinks , and it has for a long time .

      snip – overeditorializing

    7. Philip[ Finck
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

      Keep in mind that the question is always “Did you delete the emails?”. One could argue that they are telling the truth in that they didn’t delete the e-mails. Rather they COPIED the emails to private storage devices. Clearly a pretty slimy twisting of fact on their and the universities part.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

        Yes, they copied the emails to private storage, but they then deleted the emails from their UEA computers. Gavin Schmidt- Nick Stokes type of wordsmithing gets nowhere in the real world.

        In addition, in the course of my FOI, it seems that Briffa has been unable to locate the email containing the Wahl attachments on his “private storage”. Precisely when he deleted that email is unclear. But those are the emails that were particularly at issue in the Holland FOI. Note that Briffa also said that he did not delete any “files”. This is relevant to my pending FOI on the Wahl attachments, because Briffa apparently has said that he copied the emails but not the attachments. So when the deletion of emails took place on his UEA computer, the attachments were destroyed without a copy. ( I don’t know whether I believe this, but it’s what the UEA says.)

        • geronimo
          Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 3:04 AM | Permalink

          Steve, see above, I suspect they moved the files from their server to their private memory. Copying and then deleting selected emails would be an extremely onerous task. Once off the main server they are at liberty to say they haven’t gotten emails requested under FOI because there’s no way they can be checked.

        • Posted Jan 13, 2013 at 1:53 AM | Permalink

          Steve, just to be precise about moving vs copying and deleting:

          As you certainly know (but that I have not seen specifically addressed), a right-click-and-drag on the files offers up a context menu that offers, among other things, either to COPY to the chosen location or to MOVE to that location.

          In parsing their statements, if they chose the latter (or could reasonably claim to), there was then no DELETING involved on their part. Though the act of moving no longer leaves the files in the previous location, strictly speaking it is not COPYing and DELETE-ing. If they never specifically chose the DELETE option, did deleting occur?

          This being the case, they could say with a straight face that they did no deleting, even though that was what Jones’ had been urging.

          “But, Sir, I did not at any time pick the DELETE option.”

          It was naivete on the part of the inquiries to not include “Did you move any files?” to their questioning, so as to prevent parsing in that particular way. I maintain that that is exactly what happened – and that Briffa and Jones colluded to present the same dodge to the inquiries.

          It is even possible (though I do not accuse) that the inquirers may have been part of the collusion, perhaps consciously and specifically limiting their questions so that the dodge would be possible. Jones and Briffa and Wahl were not the only ones with reasons to avoid facing theses facts.

          Steve Garcia

          SteveMc: The “inquiries” did not carry out any questioning about the deletion of emails.

          • Posted Jan 13, 2013 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

            One more thing…

            It is at this time established that some of the files were put onto memory sticks (private storage].

            If so, then the original files were either left on the servers or they were not, in the act of moving them. Since the inquiries did not find them either the inquiry looked in the wrong places or the files had been put on the sticks by some means that effectively removed them. “Did you in any way removing the files from the server?” is another phrasing that would have left no out for Jones and Briffa.

            Using ONLY the term “delete” is about the easiest to doge, most simple-minded, un-lawyer-like approach possible.

            Steve Garcia

    8. Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

      The clever thing about releasing the Climategate payload in installments, is that it invites certain parties to float untruths to cover things in the last release. The next release then shows they lied. An elegant trap.

      Pointman

      • Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

        Yes it is. But UEA were concerned about what additional emails might be out there from the start. When they hired Peter Sommer, this was the first thing that they asked him to do.

        “Firstly we are asking you to identify the search terms or other methods by which it is most likely the emails which were published on the web were selected from the large volume of material represented by the back-ups of the various personal computers, and to ascertain whether there are other emails which would have been selected through such a process but which have not been published on the web and, therefore, could be retained by whoever was responsible for the “hack”.”

        http://www.climateaudit.info/foi/cru/12-155%20sommer/Appendix%20A%20Data%20file%20155.pdf

        • ianl8888
          Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

          But UEA were concerned about what additional emails might be out there from the start. When they hired Peter Sommer, this was the first thing that they asked him to do.

          Yes, agreed. It now seems to me that Sommer was hired by UAE in a panic about what may be in as yet unreleased email caches from FOIA. [I wonder how UAE feel about the encrypted ZIP file still hanging :)]

          Norfolk were very suspicious of UAE personnel (and everyone, I imagine) at that point, so this panic was treated by them very carefully – and the thumbdrives took quite a time between Norfolk and Sommer

          • ianl8888
            Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

            UEA of course. I really hate it when I do that sort of stupid

        • Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

          Hello David. I find it curious that they put the word hack in quotations in their instructions to Sommer. It’s a kind of wink wink nod nod. ie We all know it was a leak but the cover story is it was a hack.

          Pointman

          • Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

            Well spotted – a strange usage, matching the fact that everything about the assumption it was a hack is strange.

          • David Holland
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

            Re: Pointman (Jan 10 08:43),

            The Police thought it was a hack through the CRU web server. I crashed through to the web server OS on 3 December 2008 (and reported it to CRU) so now believe the hack.

          • Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

            I wish the police wrapped their lines of text, David :) I mean, seriously, it’s got to be possible for them to produce HTML and you get wrapping for free.

            Your sentence following the link is intriguing. How did something that happened in 2008 change your mind more recently, as I take you to mean?

          • David Holland
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

            Re: Pointman (Jan 10 08:43),
            Richard I sent the wrong link. This is a pdf even though it does’t have the right extension.

            What I was referring to was that on 3 Dec 2008 late at night I was using the CRU search facility on the CRU web server. If I put in anything it could not find a result for it fell through to the OS. I have very limited and rusty low level command expertise dating back to my days at Dec but I was pretty sure that I had the run of the m/c. However, since I had just filed my complaint to the Commissioner and assumed they had logged my IP, I emailed CRU. The next afternoon I got a thank you with the explanation that it was a server misconfiguration. The police state clearly that the route in is via CRUWEBO8. I would bet that server had a copy of BackupPC in it. It was a hack but it still does not mean it was not an inside job.

          • Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

            The pdf opens fine on my MacBook and the text is wrapped. Technology from Adobe and Norwich’s finest.

            It was a hack but it still does not mean it was not an inside job.

            Entirely agree with that. Thanks for the additional info, which looks entirely credible.

          • Skiphil
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

            IF an insider were involved they would have a powerful incentive to make it appear to be an ‘outside’ hack, to vastly widen the pool of potential targets of investigation. Any person with the requisite skills to do the RC/FOIA release would not be foolish enough to make UEA and police focus only upon ‘internal’ candidates.

          • Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

            @David Holland. I bow to your superior knowledge of hacking. And I also believe the police report of it as a hack.

            Pointman

        • Posted Jan 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

          Yeah, that fear is pretty much prima facie evidence that there was more in the emails that they knew was damaging. I wonder if the next installment scares them more than CG2 or maybe less. Having found that they have cover with inquiries, I think they are less hyperventilating than if the inquiries had been objective. Still, the passworded balance has to still worry them.

          Other aspects:

          If they needed Sommer, does that indicate that the deleted emails DO exist?

          Did they limit Sommer to only the ones still on the server? What I’d do if I were them – have him go through the “privately” preserved emails on the memory stick, to see which ones to delete altogether. The memory stick could be misplaced and be found by others, after all. They are very easy to misplace. Best to eliminate the incriminating emails completely, while keeping the non-incriminating ones that they DID want to keep for posterity. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

          Steve Garcia

    9. Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

      Monty Python have met their match – Acton’s UEA is ‘impossible to sufficiently parody’.

    10. observa
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

      Well to be fair there’s Copy, Paste, Delete and then there’s Send to a nice safe place out of harm’s way.

      It’s a matter of clear definition which is all far too technical for laypersons and why these matters are best left to a consensus of qualified climatologists which naturally Muir did. I can see no lack of consensus over this among climatologists since, so that should be the end of the matter.

      What! You want to split hairs over Send or Move now? Where’s your climatology qualifications?

    11. Skiphil
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

      Steve highlighted a point I have been wondering about: the vast number of reported ‘unread’ emails in a Phil Jones mbx only since the last archiving (according to the account in the full 10 page Sommer memo):

      [re: Phil Jones]

      “There are 22018 unread emails in the most recent ‘In’ mbx….”

      It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Jones could have been truthful in saying he engaged in some amount of innocuous email housekeeping to eliminate unneeded emails and free up storage, not to evade FOI. Granted that this may reflect some long period of time (the Sommer document says since the last archiving), yet who could reasonably believe that Jones did any email housekeeping which allowed 22018 unread emails to persist in his latest ‘mbx’ (even if they are all assummed to be spammy in nature)?? The Jones ‘mbx’ seems to be wildly out of control, except to the extent he may have eliminated inconvenient emails selectively.

      This does not pass the laugh test. Perhaps some of the CA experts in email technologies could assess this aspect of the Sommer document.

      • clivere
        Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

        In some email clients such as Outlook it is possible to view emails using a preview panel which causes them to stay as unread even though the user has read them. To change them to read they need to be opened in the client. Dont know if this applies to Eudora.

        • Jeff Alberts
          Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

          My experience with Outlook says that the Preview pane does mark the email as read. Maybe there’s a setting which will override that, but that’s how I read all of my Outlook email over 15+ years. It’s also how I read my Thunderbird email now.

          • billk
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink

            Yes, there is an Outlook setting that allows you to preview emails without marking them as having been read.

          • lapogus
            Posted Jan 11, 2013 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

            Yes, I am very familiar with Eudora 4 and 5 which have the preview facility. I am almost certain that Eudora 3 did and also Eudora 6. Its old and but I still use Eudora 5 today – great for backing up and porting all my business emails to new machines if and when required, and I have over 15 years of business emails which can be easily searched for keywords or phrases etc.

      • Graeme W
        Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

        Don’t forget that the emails had been loaded into Outlook prior to Sommer’s investigation. It’s possible that the emails were flagged as unread as part of that import process. That would mean that he had 22000+ emails in his inbox, but doesn’t necessarily mean that he hadn’t read them. The “unread” status may be unreliable due to the fact that Sommer wasn’t reviewing the original files – he was reviewing processed files.

        • Skiphil
          Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

          Yes, I guessed it might be something like either a preview pane option or that the emails became listed as unread when moved to a different device or location. It does seem hard to believe Phil Jones would be behind in his email by 22000+ even if a lot might be spam. Stil, the whole issue does point to hw little genuine scrutiny seems to have gone into the email aspects of the Muir Russell ‘inquiry’ (sic).

          • Latimer Alder
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 3:17 AM | Permalink

            Re: Skiphil (Jan 9 16:54),

            22,000 emails in his inbox?

            Even if he had managed to glance at all of these, such a number hardly speaks to the neat and tidy precise attention-to-detail organisational skills that we’d expect in somebody charged with keeping ‘the most important dataset in human history’. More to a scatter-brained disorganised shambles.

            And it does raise questions about how he ever got the gig in the first place. Do academics ever get assessed on their capabilities and skills, not just their qualifications and publication record? If not, why not? They are taking public money.

        • thorsten
          Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 4:49 AM | Permalink

          Such a technical issue seems the only plausible explanation. Could it even be that emails from several original folders were accumulated into one “inbox” file? I have noticed Eudora becoming truly slow and bogging down the whole system whenever an active mailbox exceeds a certain size (cannot speak about other mail clients as I don’t regularly use them, but weren’t the original files reported as Eudora anyway?). The critical mass in my experience is somewhere in the low 1000s, even if you regularly detach or delete large attachments. Unless these 20,000 mails were all plain text one-liners, I can’t imagine anyone actually working daily with such a huge mailbox file because of Eudora’s poor performance.

    12. Wukkow
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

      Is it possible that Jones asked Briffa to delete the emails/files without directly informing him of David Holland’s FOI request?

      Briffa can then say he did not “knowingly” delete emails/files subject to FOI.

      • David Holland
        Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

        No, read 1701.txt and 5017.txt

        • Wukkow
          Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 3:38 AM | Permalink

          thanks,
          1701.txt briffa is only cc’ed and 5017.txt seems unrelated, but eg. 3286.txt shows that Briffa knew of the FOI.

          • David Holland
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

            Re: Wukkow (Jan 10 03:38),

            You did not read the right bit in 5017.txt

            The sequence is:
            Thursday 6 July 2006 2860.txt Overpeck to Briffa

            Please try extra hard not to include any of your own new publications unless REALLY needed, and if you add references, see if you can DELETE some already being cited in our chapter. Remember that we still have to reduce our chapter size by a significant 5 pages.

            Friday 28 July 2006 14:28 1758.txt Overpeck to Briffa.

            Among the contributions to “additional papers” that met our final deadline of July 24th, we received a submission of the Wegman report. I imagine that you are aware of this report but am attaching a copy here just in case.

            We also received a copy of the recent NAS report on surface temperature reconstructions but, as we know you already have that, we did not forward another copy to you.

            Friday 28 July 2006 14:32 1196.txt Overpeck to Briffa.

            Please find attached additional paper(s) that are relevant to your chapter and have been submitted in response to our most recent guidelines for consideration of papers published in 2006 following the expert and government review. A separate spreadsheet file is attached listing: the submitter, file name of the paper, its acceptance date, and the chapter and section which the submitter feels is relevant.

            Monday 26 May 2008 10:12 1701.txt Osborn to Briffa and Jones

            So I’m sure that Holland will be pursuing or even expanding his FOI request!

            Tuesday 27 May 2008 18:30 1212009215.txt Palmer to “Gent”

            Please note the response received today from Mr. Holland. Could you provide input as to his additional questions 1, and 2,

            Wednesday 28 May 2008 17:13 1212009215.txt Jones to Osborn and Palmer. cc Briffa and Mcgarvie

            On (2) Keith should say that he didn’t get any papers through the IPCC process.

            Thursday 29 May 2008 05:31 5017.txt Briffa to Ed Cook, Lisa, Kim and Eystein [my bold]

            I am very sorry – but I too must cancel at this late time. REDACTED This is happening in Birmingham, REDACTED (some 200 miles from our home). I have been there for several days and have just returned to try to sort out commitments here in Norwich and abroad but I will need to go there for some period over the next few weeks.

            Thursday 29 May 2008 11:04 1212063122.txt Jones to Mann

            Mike,
            Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?
            Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

          • Skiphil
            Posted Jan 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

            Re: Wukkow (Jan 10 03:38),

            So Jones and Briffa were fully aware of the FOI request context as they pursued deletion of emails to evade the request. Amazing that Muir Russel & co. could not investigate this obvious simple fact. Oh, unless they never meant to “investigate”….

            Monday 26 May 2008 10:12 1701.txt Osborn to Briffa and Jones

            So I’m sure that Holland will be pursuing or even expanding his FOI request!

          • Steve McIntyre
            Posted Jan 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

            The CG2 dossier is far more detailed and damning than CG1 on these points. I’ve recently been re-collating and will try to post on it.

    13. thisisnotgoodtogo
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

      Hi Steve.
      Is this correctly written?

      “A few weeks later, UEA refused Holland’s FOI 08-31 on the grounds that they did not have any *unresponsive* emails (the responsive emails having been removed.)”

      • David Holland
        Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

        On 20 June 2008 UEA wrote Re: FOI_08-31:
        We are unable to provide the informetion requested in sections (1) and (2) as we simply do not have the requested information.

        On (1) they were right. No-one asked for the new guidelines.

        On (2) they told a porkie. The TSU sent via Overpeck four papers and a spreadsheet. The TSU also sent an email saying that they had received Steve’s suggestion of Wegman and NRC2006, but they weren’t bothering to pass it on. This is what the ‘delete any emails re AR4′ was all about. Read 1758.txt.

    14. observa
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

      And speaking of definitions in the era of post-modern education and science in particular, you couldn’t go past the question and answer one wit put-

      Q: What’s the opposite of diversity?
      A: University!

    15. Neil Fisher
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM | Permalink

      “If Acton carried out the investigation that he claimed in his evidence to Parliament, how could the UEA not be in possession of the full statements? And how could they not have information on the dates of the statements or whether they were signed? What does this imply about Acton’s “investigation” and the supposed “full” statements by Jones and Briffa?”

      The most obvious explaination would be that, having previously been hauled over the coals by keeping meticulous records of everything, their (likely unwritten) policy is now: except where required by law or govt regulation, all meterial is to be destroyed as soon as it is no longer required. IOW, delete EVERYTHING as soon as you are finished with it, except where the govt says we can’t. FOI requests can then pretty much all be denied (“we do not possess..”) after the most cursory of searches.

    16. Jeff Alberts
      Posted Jan 9, 2013 at 9:58 PM | Permalink

      And, when someone asked for the emails that would have exposed it, they hastily deleted them – a potential blatant breach of freedom of information (FoI) law.

      Mr. Pearce made a mistake, fixed it for him.

    17. Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 3:21 AM | Permalink

      The only interpretation that occurs to me would put responsibility on Acton. If he did not provide UEA with any reports or documents, then there would be no records. This may have implications to large to swallow.

      • Latimer Alder
        Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 3:39 AM | Permalink

        Re: Michael Painter (Jan 10 03:21),

        Would it have been too much to expect the inquiry members to go looking for stuff, not just take what they were given?

        It was called an ‘inquiry’ not ‘an unquestioning assemblage of stuff some guy gave us’.

        Inquiry: Were you a bad boy?
        Witness: No
        Inquiry: That’s good enough for us. Not guilty. Our invoice is on your desk. Spot of lunch, anyone?

    18. Don Keiller
      Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 5:52 AM | Permalink

      This duplicity by UEA does not surprise me.
      All the relevant emails are most likely still on the backup server (if UEA has not deleted them, since it has been returned by the police. Of course this would be another FOI breach, but with UEA, that is par for the course).
      The lengths that UEA will go to refuse legitimate FOI requests beggars belief.
      I had to go to court to get a single email.

      http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/1/23/a-major-foi-victory.html

      After I won this court hearing I then spent another 6 months fighting UEA’s lawyers and the U.K. Information Commissioner (who is supposed to be on my side!) to get UEA to comply.
      The whole saga makes interesting reading.

      http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/10/25/more-uea-footdragging-part-one.html

      http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/10/26/uea-footdragging-part-2.html

      http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/10/29/uea-footdragging-part-3.html

      Hopefully this will provide insight into UEA’s “conceal at all costs” mentality.

      • Duke C.
        Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

        My request for the Briffa-Wahl emails spanning July-August 2006 (FOI_12-139, now online at the UEA Disclosure Log) was a bit more successful. Their initial response, however, was vexing. They invoked s.1(1)(a) claiming that two of the emails (both contained within the CG1 release) were not held.

        A followup request for clarification on the search methodology resulted in this response, in part:

        “As noted in my email of 22 November, I have forwarded your concerns regarding the extent of our searching to the appropriate technical staff within the University and can report that in response to your question; no, we did not initially search the numbered mbx backup files.
        Having concluded that the requested information could, in fact, be held within these files, we conducted further searches late last week. Specifically, we identified three files which were not previously retrieved or searched: In.mbx.001, In.mbx.002 and Out.mbx.001. There was no Out.mbx.002 file. All three files were decompressed and searched for any references to ‘wahl’ and all search matches were checked to determine whether they related to emails exchanged between Keith Briffa and Eugene Wahl between 1 July 2006 and 31 August 2006.
        As a result of this revised search, we not only discovered the two emails previously reported as ‘not held’ but nine (9) other emails that fall within the scope of your request of 11 October 2012. These are contained within the attached document entitled ‘Appendix A_Additional material.pdf’.”

        The additional material contains information not included in CG1/CG2 specifically unique emails in Briffa’s out.mbx with attachment and directory path information of files he sent to Wahl.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

          Duke, this information is highly relevant to my appeal. The attachments that I had requested are attachments to emails that were located in the second tranche of emails (but were not located in their first search.)

          I had asked them to confirm whether or not they had located the covering emails in the backup server and they refused to respond. However, in your correspondence, it’s very interesting that they did not locate the Wahl covering emails in their initial search, but located them in the second search following your suggestions. (The attachments requested are the attachments to Addendum Email 2 and Addendum Email 11.)

          In their second response letter to you http://www.uea.ac.uk/is/foi/disclosure/Management/FOI_12-139-add they stated:

          As noted in my email of 22 November, I have forwarded your concerns regarding the extent of our searching to the appropriate technical staff within the University and can report that in response to your question; no, we did not initially search the numbered mbx backup files.

          Having concluded that the requested information could, in fact, be held within these files, we conducted further searches late last week. Specifically, we identified three files which were not previously retrieved or searched: In.mbx.001, In.mbx.002 and Out.mbx.001. There was no Out.mbx.002 file. All three files were decompressed and searched for any references to ‘wahl’ and all search matches were checked to determine whether they related to emails exchanged between Keith Briffa and Eugene Wahl between 1 July 2006 and 31 August 2006.

          As a result of this revised search, we not only discovered the two emails previously reported as ‘not held’ but nine (9) other emails that fall within the scope of your request of 11 October 2012. These are contained within the attached document entitled ‘Appendix A_Additional material.pdf’.

          Can you explain what made you ask about numbered files. Could you post up your inquiry letters and their Nov 22 email as those are not in the 12-139 disclosure log.

          Also, once they located the covering emails (Addendum Emails 2 and 11), why wouldn’t they be able to locate the attachments to those emails?

          Thanks, Steve Mc

          • Duke C.
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

            I’m at a remote location today, battery is running low. Will respond this evening, in detail.

          • Steve McIntyre
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

            another question , if you get a chance. The files referred to in their Nov 30 letter – In.mbx.001, In.mbx.002 and Out.mbx.00 – were not listed in the Sommer report on Briffa: does that mean anything?

          • Armand MacMurray
            Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

            Steve, the .001 and .002 files are backups of the In and Out mailboxes that later versions of Eudora make automatically.
            The attachments remain separate files, usually stored in a separate directory (as discussed previously), and so wouldn’t be affected by the backup In or Out mailbox files.

            (from http://www.eudora.com/techsupport/kb/2651hq.html):

            Starting with Eudora version 6, Eudora will automatically make back up copies of the In and Out mailboxes. Eudora can only make copies of the In and Out mailboxes at this time. You can locate these in the same directory as the In mailbox files (In.mbx and In.toc). These files are discernable by the .001 and .002 extensions. This procedure occurs when the mailboxes are “compacted” and this happens at specific intervals during Eudora’ regular operation. If you would like to perform this task manually so that you have the most recent email received constantly backed up, you can use the Special\Compact Mailboxes menu to force the creation of these backups.

            To restore these files for any reason, simply rename these file pairs (In.mbx.001 and In.toc.001, etc..) so that they do not have the same name as the Original In mailbox (In.mbx and In.toc) and then restart Eudora.

          • Duke C.
            Posted Jan 11, 2013 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

            Steve,

            Reply email sent…

    19. Frank
      Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

      It seems to me that the UEA and probably other organizations have realized that they don’t have to take FOIA requests seriously unless their leaders demand it. If this information were the subject of a subpoena in a court case and excerpts of statements mentioned in testimony to Parliament could not be produced, the judge supervising the case would probably threaten the side who hadn’t produced the records with contempt of court. The judge can ensure that – one way or another – the side not producing the material would pay a penalty and he can put pressure on an attorney whose clients don’t produce this material.

      If the FIOA comes from a major news organization, there is some risk that absurd responses will be published on the front page.

      It seems to me that there is no penalty for obstructing an FOIA request or carrying out an ineffective search. Even if one gets caught, the six-month statue of limitations insures that one won’t suffer any penalty. Consider this scenario: Palmer: “Dr. Acton, we have a new FOIA request from David Holland for the statements from Jones and Briffa you mentioned to Parliament.” Acton: “What do you plan to do about it?” Palmer: “I plan to look into the official personnel files of Jones and Briffa and your official files on Climategate. Is there anywhere else I should look?” Acton: “No. Your plan sounds good to me. How soon can you begin the search?” Palmer: “I’ve got three other requests ahead of this one. Not for at least a week or two.” Acton (thinking to himself): “I’ll make sure those statements are in my Parliament testimony files (that Palmer has never asked to see before) and suggest that Jones and Briffa consider any copies they may possess to be personal, not university, records.” Palmer (one month later): “Dr. Acton, my search for those statements was a failure.” Acton: “That’s surprising, you’ve looked in all the right places. Did you search fulfill the requirements the UEA must meet under the law?” Palmer: “Yes, but I can’t believe those documents don’t exist.” Acton: Me too. Let’s wait until the last minute to reply to this request in case those statements turn up somewhere.”

    20. Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

      Holland might try re-phrasing the request. The operative word could be “full”, providing the UEA the opportunity for a dodge.
      Holland might request copies of the originals of the bare statements, as given in the UEA submision to Parliament. The request phrased thus might deprive UEA wriggle room, if one takes a view ahead.

    21. barn E. rubble
      Posted Jan 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

      RE: Duke C. Posted Jan 11, 2013 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

      “Reply email sent…”

      I take it your reply can’t be posted here? I’m following this with great interest, as are others I’m sure . . .

      Steve: it will be posted up when I get a chance.

    4 Trackbacks

    1. [...] McIntyre is posting about FOIA requests to the University of East [...]

    2. [...] in response to David Holland’s FOI for supporting documents (see CA here and whatdotheyknow here), UEA had stated that they held “no recorded information that [...]

    3. [...] in response to David Holland’s FOI for supporting documents (see CA hereand whatdotheyknow here), UEA had stated that they held “no recorded information that confirms [...]

    4. [...] that they will receive more funding for their research. The “Climategate” incident is still promoted by climate deniers as evidence of the corruption of climate science, long after numerous independent inquiries have [...]

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