David Rose of the Mail places the Met Office obstruction of FOI requests squarely in the spotlight.
The Met Office obstruction left a singularly bad taste with their sequence of untrue excuses for not producing John Mitchell’s Review Editor comments.
First, they claimed that Mitchell had deleted all the emails concerning AR4. (This excuse came on June 2, 2008, three days after Jones had sent an email asking Mann, Briffa, Ammann and Wahl to delete their emails concerning AR4. We know that Jones and Briffa had corresponded with Mitchell in March about Holland’s request to the Met Office for Review Comments. We do not know when Mitchell was supposed to have deleted his emails.)
When asked to search their server, they then claimed that Mitchell had acted in a “personal” capacity as IPCC Review Editor – sort of like NASA blogger Gavin Schmidt at realclimate – and thus they were not subject to FOI.
When asked whether Mitchell had claimed expenses and/or salary for IPCC meetings, they resiled from that excuse (without providing the requested expenses), settling on a refusal excuse developed at CRU – one so repugnant that even Phil Jones said that he felt like Sir Humphrey: that providing Mitchell’s Review Comments would interfere with UK relations with an international organization (IPCC).
There is a very interesting backstory in which “hide the decline” – the leading early Climategate story – leads directly to the story about FOI obstruction. I’ll try to get to that story some time next week.
The issue is by no means over. Despite its claims to be an “open and transparent” organization, the IPCC does not attorn to any international FOI legislation. Its cadres in the U.S. and U.K. have used the interference with international organization to immunize the actions of national IPCC cadres from national FOI.
In one of the Climategate Letters, Phil Jones planned to ask IPCC to seek even greater immunization of national cadres from FOI legislation. In my opinion, exactly the opposite needs to be done: in UK and US legislation regarding the relations with international organizations exemption, exclude relations with IPCC.