The UK government submission “tricked” (TM- climate science) the SciTech Committee with untrue and/or deceptive assertions that the Muir Russell and Oxburgh reports were carried out ‘independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out.’;
The ICCER [Muir Russell] and SAP [Oxburgh] were carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out.
Information obtained through FOI shows that John Beddington, the UK Government Chief Scientist was in direct contact with both UEA officials and even individual panelists, making sure, among other thing, that individual panelists were ‘warmed up”. Contrary to the UK Government’s claim that the panels were independent, one email from a UEA official says that they will keep Beddington “in the loop” and “seek his advice”. Contrary to the Government’s claims, the Muir Russell and Oxburgh panels were not “carried out independently” and the Government had an important role in “informing how these reviews were carried out”.
Here is a chronology of presently known contacts.
in response to Andrew Montford’s FOI request about Beddington’s activities, BIS stated that Beddington’s first documented contact was “a letter dated 23 December 2009 from Prof Trevor Davies informing Sir John Beddington of incidents at the Climate Research Unit and the steps being taken by the University in response”.
However, the minutes of a Dec 18, 2009 betweeen Muir Russell and UEA officials (including Trevor Davies) stated:
John Beddington has suggested that there could be a side investigation which looks at the science, in more detail than the Independent Review’s terms of reference. John Beddington has indicated he would be happy to be involved.
So presumably Beddington was in contact with UEA (probably Trevor Davies) prior to the first acknowledged date (Dec 23). The minutes of this meeting continue:
MR will want to talk to Watson and Beddington and maybe others. Will need to see
where the investigation leads.
The UK government did not disclose any documents pertaining to the contemplated discussions between Muir Russell and Beddington and/or Watson (also a senior government official.) In the minutes of the Jan 12, 2010 meeting of the Muir Russell panel (not published until after the panel reported), Muir Russell stated that he talked to Beddington on Jan 8, 2010 (also referring to an otherwise undisclosed discussion between Beddington and Trevor Davies):
MR updated the Team on two matters that had arisen on his exploratory meetings
at UEA on 18 December 2009:
First, his conversation with Sir John Beddington, on Friday 8 January. This had clarified what Sir John had in mind in terms of a “side investigation”. It appeared that, following a conversation with Trevor Davies, Pro VC at UEA and a former head of CRU, Sir John saw advantage in an exercise to look at the CRU work without the “adjustments” to data, of which much had been made by critics. This would test whether the adjustments made any significant difference to the conclusions – Sir John’s expectation as advised by Professor Davies was that they would not, which in their view would be helpful in responding to criticisms. The proposal was that a separate sub-group of respected statisticians would be invited by the Review Team to carry out this work.
Beddington’s suggestions here had an important impact on diverting the Muir Russell panel from the actual content of the Climategate emails. 99% of the Climategate emails are about proxy reconstructions – CRUTEM is mentioned on only a couple of occasions. I had stated that I thought that CRU’s secrecy was to protect the fact that their own “value added” to GHCN data was negligible, that their quality control was negligible and that it appeared that CRU did only a trivial averaging of GHCN data with some other data mixed in. CRU adjustments had not been a major or even minor issue at Climate Audit, perhaps the prominent critical site. My issues with CRU pertained to proxy reconstructions. But even though CRUTEM was barely mentioned in the Climategate dossier, Beddington’s influence on Muir Russell was such that this exercise (peripheral to the Climategate dossier) became a major focus of the Muir Russell panel, while important proxy issues were ignored.
The January 12 minutes state that Geoffrey Boulton would follow up with Beddington.
GB to speak to Sir John Beddington about the Team’s conclusions on his suggestion
Neither the Beddington FOI nor the Muir Russell minutes refer to these follow-up discussions. However, as noted above, the Muir Russell panel complied with Beddington’s request.
On Feb 10, Trevor Davies emailed Beddington as shown below, saying that he “will keep [Beddington] in the loop and seek [Beddington’s] advice.’
Muir Russell is launching the Independent Review tomorrow. Our understanding is that he will state definitively that he will not be reviewing the ‘science’. Given the time which has elapsed since we instigated the Review (Dec 3) and other events, we are of the view that there should be as rapid as possible scientific assessment of key CRU publications. There has been discussion between the Royal Soc (Martin Rees, brian Hoskins), UEA (me, Peter Liss) and Alan Thorpe [NERC]. Initially we were hoping that the Royal Soc would undertake this, but Martin feels it more appropriate that the Soc helps us identify people with the appropriate standing, independence etc. We plan on issuing a statement to this effect tomorrow, Muir Russell has agreed.
It is difficult to say anything about the time-scale until the assessors have been appointed but we want this to be done as quickly as possible. Will keep you in the loop and seek your advice.
Beddington responded the next day, suggesting a telephone conversation the following week and observing that it is important for the Science Appraisal Panel to have a chairman ‘seen as independent’. Again, this email was not disclosed by the Government, only by UEA.
Trevor, thanks for this. I am currently in India, back next week and there may be merit in speaking on the telephone when I return. I think that it is important that UEA indicates that this decision relates to the science and is complementary to Muir Russell. It will be very important to have a Chair for such a review who would be seen as independent. I will ponder this, the choice of experts is rather more straightforward.
Best wishes,. John
A few days later, Beddington suggested Oxburgh as chairman of the Science Appraisal Panel. No email containing the suggestion was provided by either UEA or the Government, but a Mar 4 email from Davies to Beddington thanks Beddington for suggesting Oxburgh. According to Oxburgh’s evidence to the SciTech Committee, he met with UEA officials in February and did not agree to carry out the science appraisal that the UEA had already announced – instead agreeing only to examine the integrity issues already supposedly being addressed by Muir Russell by examining eleven publications selected by Trevor Davies based on CRU’s brief to the SciTech Committee, a brief in which CRU had tried to place itself in the most favorable light. (Oxburgh, as CA readers know, later claimed that the eleven publications had been selected by the Royal Society, even though they had been selected by Trevor Davies.)
On March 1, Beddington gave oral and written testimony at the SciTech Committee, assuring them that there was also going to be a science inquiry:
Professor Beddington: I would certainly comment that the terms of reference give the opportunity to investigate this in depth and I understand, as I indicated in my written comments to you, that I understood they were also going to supplement the Muir Russell Inquiry into some of the key scientific papers. I do not know whether the Vice Chancellor has shared that with you.
Q200 Chairman: He has said that this afternoon.
Professor Beddington: He has explained that to you. Well, taken together, I think that is an extremely comprehensive inquiry.
On March 4, 2010, Davies again emailed Beddington, attaching the draft invitation to Oxburgh panelists and the eleven publications later said to have been selected by the Royal Society. Again this was in the UEA FOI, but not disclosed in the Government FOI. in the email, Davies asks Beddington to ‘warm up’ David Hand, a panelist that Beddington had suggested (no document containing this suggestion was provided under either FOI though presumably there is one):
From Trevor Davies
Re CRU Science Assessment Panel
As you know Ron Oxburgh has agreed to do this. Thank you for the intial suggestion! He has cleared April 6/7/8 in his diary for a 2-day session at UEA, and anticipates writing the report on the last day.
We have a list of 12/13 names, approved by the Royal Soc, covering a range of interests and “attitudes” toward global warming. Ron has decided the first we should approach for his panel of 6-7 are (xxxxxx- expurgated- xxxxx
Michael Kelly; Herbert Huppert mathematician Cambridge, David Hand FBA Imperial; Kerry Emanual meteorologist MIT, Huw Davies ETH Zurich; Lisa Graumluich, tre ring analyst Univ Arizona
Ron is keen that they are “warmed up” by influential people rather than us inviting them cold. Martin Rees is asking Ralph Cicerone (President NAS) to approach the Americans, Brian Hoskins will approach Huw Davies, Ron himself is talking to Kelly and Huppert.
I wonder if you would be prepared to “warm up” David Hand – on the basis that you know him and you suggested him!
We are most keen, if at all possible, that we can hit the April 6/7/8 window and I’m sure you will be very persuasive in convincing him that this is an important job for science, etc.
For background I attach 1) a draft letter which will be sent to David by Ron 2) a list of the papers we anticipate will be examined
David’s contact details are …
If you are able to help, I will be very grateful.
On March 8, Beddington had a phone conversation with Davies (referred to in an email the next day.) On Mar 9, Beddington emailed Davies, copying another Government official, saying that Hand had been “warmed up”.
To – Trevor Davies;
Cc: Nick Grout BIS GO – Science
Following your phone conversation last night, John wanted to let you know that he has spoken to David Hand, who was in agreement with John’s suggestions (and therefore has been “warmed up”)
Private Secretary to John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser
On March 22, Oxburgh panelist Michael Kelly distributed notes to other panelists raising serious questions about CRU). That evening, Beddington met with Oxburgh, saying in an email to Davies the following day that “knowing him [Oxburgh], he will certainly make it work.” In the same email to Davies on Mar 23, Beddington re-assured Davies that he had talked to Kelly and made sure that Kelly ‘understood the absolute need for objectivity particularly given his known stance’. (The precise timing of Beddington’s discussion with Kelly resulting in his report that Kelly “understood” things is not known from available documents.) Beddington’s Mar 29 email to Davies stated:
Trevor, thanks for the information on the announcements, which all looks to be going well. As it happens, I met Ron Oxburgh last night and he duly moaned at me putting his name into the frame, but my distinct impression was that he was rather pleased. Knowing him, he will certainly make it work.
You may know that I also talked to Michael Kelly who was very positive and understood the absolute need for objectivity particularly given his known stance.
I hope this is going to work out, but we have the right team so it should have every opportunity,
Best wishes, John
On April 14, following publication of the few pages of the Oxburgh report, Beddington congratulated Oxburgh on a “blinder played”. Beddington referred to a previous discussion at the House of Lords (perhaps the March 22 meeting mentioned to Davies). Beddington said that the next time “drinks” would be on him. (Oxburgh, by the way, is chairman of Falck Renewables, a large wind firm, whose profitability is dependent on government subsidies of wind energy.)
Dear Ron, much appreciated the hard work put into the review, general view is a blinder played. As we discussed at HoL, clearly the drinks are on me!
Best wishes, John
In a May 19 response to Andrew Montford’s FOI request, the UK Government conceded that Beddington had proposed Oxburgh and Hand, and had “encouraged” these candidates to participate:
The appointment process and selection conducted by UEA was informed by advice from the Royal Society, to ensure appropriate rigour, expertise and objectivity.
As part of proper practice, in putting together a high quality panel the UEA leadership also took soundings on potential members, including candidates for the role of chair, from senior figures in the scientific community. As the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Beddington was one of those consulted. Professor Beddington offered two names of possible candidates to lead the Review, one of which was Lord Oxburgh.
He also proposed the inclusion of Prof David Hands, President of the Royal Statistical Society, as someone well qualified to contribute.
In addition, at UEA’s subsequent request, Prof Beddington provided his good offices to encourage these candidates to give positive consideration to an approach by UEA.
Copies of two email exchanges are enclosed, related to these points. [these are the Mar9 and Mar 23 emails] <> <>
As shown above, the UK government’s evidence to the SciTech Committee – presumably drafted or approved by Beddington – that Muir Russell and Oxburgh were both “carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out” was untrue. Beddington was in frequent and direct contact with UEA’s Trevor Davies, whose office coordinated the “inquiries.” Beddington sidetracked the Muir Russell inquiry into an analysis of CRUTEMP temperature data that did not respond to actual criticisms from leading critics. Beddington nominated Oxburgh as Chairman, “warmed up” David Hand (and perhaps others). Beddington also had private discussions with Oxburgh and potentially refractory panelist Michael Kelly, ensuring that Kelly “understood” things. Beddington even entered into some sort of bet with Oxburgh about the inquiries, conceding that he lost the bet to Oxburgh in a “blinder” well played.
The UK government stated last year that there was nothing improper in Beddington’s contacts with UEA or the panelists. Perhaps so, perhaps not. If the government’s objective was that the inquiries be “independent”, then Beddington’s involvement with individual panelists seems very injudicious, to say the least. Be that as it may, given Beddington’s extensive involvement with both UEA and individual panelists, the Government’s evidence to the SciTech Committee – that “the ICCER [Muir Russell] and SAP [Oxburgh] were carried out independently of Government and Government had no role in informing how these reviews were carried out” – was untrue and/or deceptive.