East Anglia’s Toxic Reputation Manager

At the Guardian symposium last summer, George Monbiot’s opening question (to Trevor Davies of East Anglia) was:

why was CRU’s response to this issue such a total car crash?

Davies’s response:

It’s very difficult for a good employer to get reputation management right.

A few days ago, we learned (h/t reader Chu) that the University of East Anglia had used Neil Wallis of the Outside Organisation for “reputation management”. Wallis turns out to have been a former News of the World editor, who was recently arrested in connection with the NOTW scandals.

The University of East Anglia was not the only UK institution that employed Wallis for reputation management. Concurrently he was employed as a consultant for the Metropolitan Police Services in London, where he had been hired on the recommendation of Deputy Commissioner John Yates, who was also responsible for counter terrorism operations in the UK. Wallis’ former close associate at the News of the World, Andy Coulson, was press secretary for Prime Minister David Cameron, to whom Wallis is now said to have provided “informal” advice.

In organizations other than the University of East Anglia, hiring Wallis as a consultant has proved to be toxic, resulting in the resignations of one leading official after another.

First came the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Services. Stephenson appeared before the Home Affairs Committee yesterday.

Next came the resignation of John Yates, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Services.

An investigation into the role of a third police official, Dick Fedorcio, has commenced with the aptly named IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission).

Earlier this year, Coulson resigned as David Cameron’s press secretary. Yesterday, Cameron cut short an African trip to answer fresh questions about Coulson.

As Davies’ said, it’s “very difficult for a good employer to get reputation management right”. Presumably making the problem that much harder for East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. That their first instinct was to seek counsel from a former News of the World editor on “reputation management” speaks volumes about the University’s attitude.

George Monbiot’s advice to the environmental community was simple: that they’d “only get past this by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate, and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.”

Instead of taking Monbiot’s advice, the University decided that their priority was to “fire back some shots on the scientists’ behalf”. They also commissioned tainted inquiries (Muir Russell, Oxburgh) that not only failed to clear the air, but who arguably made matters worse. Whether these courses of action were advised by Wallis or merely abetted by him hardly matters. Precisely what contribution, if any, Wallis made to the University’s strategy and statements remains unknown. Indeed, until a few days ago, none of us were even aware of his involvement. Presumably more will become known in the weeks ahead.

It’s too bad that the University of East Anglia decided that the Climategate problem was merely a “reputation management” problem and the sort of advice that they needed could be obtained from a former News of the World editor (let alone one with Wallis’ baggage). The advice that they needed had already been provided by George Monbiot – that they could “only get past this by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate, and demonstrating that it cannot happen again”. Had the University paid attention to Monbiot’s advice, subsequent events would undoubtedly have been different and healthier.

Update: Keith Olbermann showed this post on his show in which he disseminates Joe Romm’s unsupported theory of Neil Wallis as agent for Murdoch at UEA:


  1. gober
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    “Last night came the resignation of Andy Coulson as David Cameron’s press secretary.”

    Andy Coulson resigned in January 2011 (from the link).

    Steve- corrected. Yesterday’s news on this front was that Cameron cut short an African trip to return to answer questions about Coulson.

  2. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Reputation is determined by one’s deeds, or misdeeds. CRU has exactly the reputation they deserve.

  3. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    It is strange that the connection between emetic-Wallis and the UEA is not inducing media interest. I suppose not all unseemly relationships are equal.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    The limited number of English names in use doesn’t help googling.

    When I googled the combination “Trevor Davies NOTW”, I learned that there is a Trevor Davies who is also a NOTW editor http://pastebin.com/KtnJgUK7 .

    “Rob Evans” was co-author of a Guardian story about Climategate with David Leigh. “Rob Evans” is also the Deputy Registrar at UEA. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=412545&sectioncode=26

    I presume that the parties are unrelated, but the possibility of the reporters being children or nephews is not impossible either.

    • Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

      As another side note, here in the USA, “NOTW” is more commonly used for http://www.newsoftheweird.com/

      Which fits the present circumstances quite well, actually….

    • Phil.
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

      So you thought you’d make something up on the similarity of names! You’re a piece of work Steve, as was said once in the senate, “have you no sense of decency?”
      Your suggestion that Outside Organisation had a toxic reputation at the time it was being used by the Met and the PM is disingenuous at best.

      • Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

        Phil, I’m curious, which collection of ex-con, cocaine planting, axe murder associates does your alma mater employ to manage its reputation? (No name similarities required).

        see: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/an-axe-murder-a-prosecution-that-failed-and-trouble-for-the-murdoch-empire-2240515.html)

        Perhaps the science is indeed more robust than was thought, or perhaps Ben Santer provided decency input on the choice of reputation ‘managers’ for the UEA, who knows?

      • David S
        Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

        Not sure what country you are from, Phil, but if you know anything about the UK you would know that the News of the World was a grubby muck-raking operation long before the current scandal, and UEA would have been well aware of this. If I were invoved in serious reputation management, it would be pretty much the last organisation in the UK that I would look to recruit from. Serious broadsheet newspapers, high quality PR companies, yes. Gutter press, absolutely not.
        As it happens, Steve did not allege that Wallis was known to be toxic at the time UEA hired him, even though he was involved in activities that had led to two jail sentences long before Climategate blew up. (Mulcaire and Goodman in 2007, and there would have been more if Yates had done any kind of a job of reading the files he was given)
        It is clear that you don’t like Steve, but unless you show some familiarity with the factual background you are just going to be viewed as a troll.

        • BillyBob
          Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

          If the BBC, Guardian and NOTW wrote a story on climate, I’d believe the NOTW … and I’d be quite sure the Guardian and BBC were lying.

      • TGSG
        Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

        really Phil?

        what part of “I presume that the parties are unrelated, but the possibility of the reporters being children or nephews is not impossible either.” didn’t you understand or were you just pining to throw out a supposed slur at Steve? I find the juxtaposition of the names interesting.Maybe you don’t. That’s no reason to assume the worst.

        • Faustino
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

          I think the posting of a possible but completely unsubstantiated link by Steve fell well below his usual standard and should be withdrawn or substantiated.

  5. Alphabet Soup
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    The arrest of Wallis makes the whole Climategate business even more bizarre:


  6. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

    Very helpful to tie this back to Davies and Monbiot this time last year. It took us 20 months to discover the role of Wallis. It may take a little while yet to grasp the full implications.

  7. JEM
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    One of the many questions that haven’t yet been answered regarding UEA in the wake of Climategate was how they got hold of Neil Wallis in the first place.

    Was someone at UEA familiar with OO and Wallis?

    Did Wallis himself ring up and suggest that they had a problem he and only he could fix?

    Or was his participation suggested by the police or some other politically connected individual outside the university?

  8. John Whitman
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    The NotW hacking versus the UEA confidential post-climategate PR campaign

    => the parallels that are suggested by the shared individuals and shared services contracted should entice an enterprising/independent journalist to break open the story of how the concurrent maneuvering of the Norfolk Police & UEA have produced, in 18 months, no detailed report on the climategate email release.

    Were their maneuvers merely concurrent and not coordinated by Wallis? Coordinated is gaining interest.

    That a journalist has not already appeared to investigate the UEA and Norfolk PD activities indicates that significant pressure has already been applied to the journalism profession to block investigation.

    If this were a Sherlock Holmes story it would be called ‘The Journalist That Was Not Screaming “FOUL” in the Night ‘.

    This whole affair will come out. I think the Norfolk PD & UEA should preempt the coming negative PR . . . they should open all now to the public.


  9. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

    The phone hacking scandal goes back over four years, and there was considerable media coverage in the summer of 2009. Perhaps Wallis’ involvement with Climategate had nothing to do with PR, but instead was precipitated by a suspicion that News Corp. was somehow behind the CRU intrusion. News Corp. would have been seen as having a lot to gain by Climategate, both politically and to create a news buzz. Perhaps Wallis was hired to use his contacts to unravel whether there was News Corp. involvement in gaining access to UEA servers and phones. Given the connections to the Met, I would imagine that the Norwich police would want to know about any News Corp. involvement as well. This would dovetail with the confusion about who got billed for Outside Organization work, as described at Bishop Hill.

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

      I don’t dispute that UEA is capable of thinking this way, but the idea that News Corp International would hack into UEA servers and then choose AirVent and Climate Audit as the vehicles to get the scoop out is, well, silly. Don’t get me wrong, I think these guys do great work, but AirVent and CA are not exactly behemoths when it comes to media footprint (when compared to News Corp). Surely, News Corp International could find a bigger way to get the news out.

    • Faustino
      Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

      Too much speculation in this thread on a site dedicated to getting at the facts. Not good.

  10. Walt Man
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

    How do you KNOW that Neil Wallis was requested explicitly by UEA as you IMPLY in your header.

    As far as any information is available UEA Employed Outside Organisation to get their point of view to the press.

    Wallis was surely provided by Outside Organisation as a suitable person from OO to do the requested work. NOBODY KNEW that he was implicated in hacking at THAT TIME. Can you prove differently?

    When your “mineral” prospecting company requires an accountant, do you check the future to see if the accountant provided by an accounting firm will be or has been (but not discovered yet) fiddling the books of another organisation?

    Your talents must be amazing, or you are making unsubstantiated accusations!

    • Eric
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

      I read no such implication in the header. Wallis is toxic and we now have evidence that he was hired, through OO, as UEA’s reputation manager. That is all that the header says, and that is enough to merit further investigation.

      • Walt Man
        Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

        Eric Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:19 PM I read no such implication in the header. Wallis is toxic and we now have evidence that he was hired, through OO, as UEA’s reputation
        University of East Anglia had used Neil Wallis”
        “The University of East Anglia was not the only UK institution that employed Wallis
        “That their first instinct was to seek counsel from a former News of the World editor”
        “reputation management” problem and the sort of advice that they needed could be obtained from a former News of the World editor (let alone one with Wallis’ baggage).”

        Only the first statement has an ounce of truth.
        The rest are just wrong – the UEA employed OO, OO provided their consultant Wallis.
        As I said above “When your “mineral” prospecting company requires an accountant, do you check the future to see if the accountant provided by an accounting firm will be or has been (but not discovered yet) fiddling the books of another organisation?”

        • j ferguson
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

          Walt Man,
          My experience with consultant relationships of the sort we suspect here, was that almost always they are contingent on the assignment of a particular individual to the effort. Sometimes, an unconnected individual could be hired through a consultancy to assure that he/she would have the support that might be necessary.

          I find it very unlikely that Wallis was “assigned” this role by chance.

          Or am i missing your point?

        • Martin Brumby
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:10 AM | Permalink

          Walt Man,

          If your accounting firm provided you with an accountant whose CV showed that his experience was largely gained by working for an outfit called Cosa Nostra Accountancy (HQ Corleone, Sicily), you wouldn’t really need to check the future, would you?

          Do you have any knowledge of the News of the World at all? Or are you just trying to be today’s Indignation Troll?

        • Walt Man
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

          Martin Brumby Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:10 AM

          Blimey Mate, you are now accusing the notw as a bunch of dishonest hacks before they were even KNOWN to be such.

          My company has employed a firm of accoiuntants. I do not KNOW who is actually doing my accounts – it varies from year to year. They certainly do not send me the CVs of this person. The CV is not even likely to say “I have worked in phone hacking” is it? I put my trust in the accountants company. Not the tea boy who probably presses the button on the computer to roll out the 2 accounts documents and the submission to HMRC. I even managed to do it last year (saved £900!!)

          UEA employed an agency to get their view to the press. OO has/had plenty of famous names on the books. Why should they not trust the person OO allocates to do this simple job? What is so difficult to understand about this?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

          Walt, you are not distinguishing the issues.

          In my opinion, UEA’s decision to seek reputation management from a former NOTW editor was inappropriate regardless of the phone hacking baggage. (BTW it is my understanding that the phone hacking scandal had been in the air well before retaining Wallis in late 2009, but let’s leave that to the side for now.)

          It seems that UEA wanted to lash back at critics, rather than apologize and show that the conduct in the emails would not recur – the course of action recommended by George Monbiot at the time and he course of action that any competent adviser would have urged. That Wallis also had phone hacking baggage merely amplifies the lack of wisdom in the appointment.

          But the real issue is that UEA and CRU thought that their biggest need was the assistance of a former NOTW editor,

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

          Steve McIntyre Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 8:33 AM | Permalink | Reply
          In my opinion, UEA’s decision to seek reputation management from a former NOTW editor was inappropriate regardless

          They did not SEEK him out. The got him as a reporesentative of the OO. It’s only your opinion anyway!!!!

          It seems that UEA wanted to lash back at critics,

          Again this only SEEMS that way to you. Do you have proof?

          That Wallis also had phone hacking baggage merely amplifies the lack of wisdom in the appointment.

          Hacking of any type is ILLEGAL as you know. If wallis was suspected the police would have charged him at that time m- or are you now going to allude to police corruption?
          Fortelling the future is not one of UEAs courses (do you know different?) Wallis was not charged or found guilty at that time. How could UEA KNOW he was a hacker?

          and CRU thought that their biggest need was the assistance of a former NOTW editor,

          The UEA though they needed assistance with their side of events. They employed OO, they got Wallis. Do you KNOW they specifically asked for him?????
          If so then you know an awful lot about the email hack!?!?

        • Posted Jul 24, 2011 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

          Re: Steve McIntyre (Jul 22 08:33)

          It seems that UEA wanted to lash back at critics, rather than apologize and show that the conduct in the emails would not recur – the course of action recommended by George Monbiot at the time and he course of action that any competent adviser would have urged. That Wallis also had phone hacking baggage merely amplifies the lack of wisdom in the appointment.

          I completely agree with the emphasis here. But Monbiot’s stance is worth further examination. Earlier, in responding to Green Sand about whether UEA’s PR campaign over Climategate would have been judged successful (whatever the precise role of Wallis within it), I suggested four possible aims, starting with:

          One crucial criterion of success might have been that Phil Jones could be given his job back without public uproar.

          It was for me to George Monbiot’s great credit that on 23 Nov 2009, the Monday after Climategate broke, he wrote in the Guardian:

          I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign.

          Later, in 2010, after all the inquiries (so-called) into Climategate had reported, Monbiot went back on this and accepted that, given that no wrongdoing had been found, it was fine for Jones to be reinstated. I’ve been thinking about my first criterion for UEA PR success in the light of this. I think on reflection UEA would have had at least two aims as far as the reinstatement of Phil Jones was concerned:

          1. that it should not provoke public uproar
          2. that George Monbiot would reverse his earlier position and publicly welcome or at least accept Phil Jones as a bona fide part of CRU.

          The Guardian and George are that important to the ‘consensus builders’ – at least they are when they step out of line to the degree Monbiot did in November 2009. And that raises another little detail in my mind. While Wallis was still finding his feet at UEA (assuming as I think is reasonable that he was engaged within a week of the leak on 17th) Monbiot wrote this

          I have seldom felt so alone.

          We’ve all felt that, George. It’s what one does with it that counts. The aloneness of Phil Jones became a key theme of the PR campaign that led to the series of puffball inquiries and his reinstatement, which you went along with. How much more alone you would have been if you’d held to your initial position.

          Am I sympathetic? Not really. There’s a kind of aloneness that makes you a real man. But at least it can be said that you held out long enough that it took the ministrations of a Neil Wallis and partners to work their magic before Humpty Dumpty could be put back together again. Two cheers for that.

  11. Bernie
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    I am embarrassed to say that my Dad bought the News of the World for 50 years. I haven’t read one for nearly 30 years, but it boggles the mind that any academic institution would use as a PR guy someone who had such a newspaper listed on his resume. The NOTW, for non-Brits, is(was) a salacious version of the National Enquirer. Can you imagine Penn State hiring an ex-National Enquirer executive to do their crisis management?

    • Eric
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

      yes 🙂

    • theduke
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

      The way this thing is going, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Penn State did exactly that.

      This is starting to make the Nixon White House look like a bunch of school boys.

    • j ferguson
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

      Yes, Remember, these are the guys that thought Mann must be ok because he brought in so much grant money.

  12. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    Given the connections between Wallis, Yates, the anti terrorist squad and the billing mixup at CRU/UEA, is it not possible that UEA asked Yates for advice on who they should get to help with PR, and Yates recommended OO and within OO, Wallis?

    Seems to me Yates would have seen this as an efficient way of getting inside info on the CRU/UEA situation as it developed, given that Wallis was under contract to the MET at the time.

  13. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Over at Grist, Joe Romm is arguing that Murdoch was behind Climategate and that’s why UEA hired Wallis. Or something.

    • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

      I’m with Romm on this. An independent investigation of the climategate email (and data)’hacking’ is a great idea!

      I suggest we get some top people onto it right away. We should give it “a wide remit to investigate all aspects without fear or favour” too. 🙂

  14. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    The sequence of events I had posted yesterday in https://climateaudit.org/2011/07/14/covert-operations-by-east-anglias-cru/#comment-298681 bears repeating here, perhaps:

    In the Music World piece, there is a pic of the Daily Express headline “The Big Climate Change ‘Fraud’” which appears to have been published on Dec. 2/09. But perhaps of greater concern to CRU/UEA would have been a Guardian Editorial of Dec. 3 which concluded:

    Data is often viewed through a tribal prism – think of the slant newspapers give to opinion polls, or the way financiers grab on to particular numbers. And climatologists confront particular pressures that encourage tribal thinking. […] Climate projections are surrounded by margins of error, a vulnerability when humans are poor at grappling with risk and prone to letting self-interest cloud their thinking.

    Another rule of public life, however, is that the cover-up does more harm than the scandal. Any suggestion that scientists are being less than frank will shred their credibility. The leaked emails are thus profoundly inconvenient for all of us who are concerned to make the world wake up to an inconvenient truth

    The Music World piece also indicated that within a week of the “bad press” they had secured coverage telling CRU/UEA’s “side of the story”. Jones “stepped down” circa Dec. 1. Perhaps CRU/UEA had hoped that announcing the “Investigation” (circa Nov 23) would head things off at the pass … an effort which obviously failed.

    [From which I had concluded] Clearly OO was “on-board” as of Dec. 4, if not a few days before.

    Given what we know about CRU/UEA’s pattern of behaviour/response prior to Climategate, i.e. ‘let’s just ignore ’em and hope this blows away’, it’s not surprising that once they realized that the emails were, in fact, genuine, they failed to take the most obvious first step in order to protect their “reputation”: get key actor(s) to step down immediately, pending an investigation.

    Wallis certainly had the “heavyweight connections” that UEA and/or OO had determined were required (according to the Music World piece). When Wallis came into the picture, my guess is that his first recommendation would have been to get Jones off-stage – which they finally did!

    Haven’t checked the timing yet, but I would not be surprised to learn that it was about a week later (i.e. circa Dec. 11 give or take a day or two) that the “poor Phil” stories began to emerge.

    Acton also claimed (in his rambling response to Monbiot’s question) that he and others “gave lots of interviews” but that they were never published, because everyone wanted Phil. YMMV, but this doesn’t ring very true to me. I, for one, see no reason to take Acton at his word for anything.

    • Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

      Interesting I wonder who came up with the idea to say Jones was like Kelly.

      • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

        Very relevant. Here’s how the Telegraph reported it on 7th Feb 2010:

        Prof Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, said his “David Kelly moment” – a reference to the Government scientist who killed himself over WMD claims in the lead up to the Iraq war – came as death threats poured in from around the world.

        Since the scandal broke on the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December, he has lost a stone in weight and is on beta-blockers and sleeping pills.

        However, the 57-year-old told The Sunday Times that suicide is now out of his mind.

        “There were death threats,” he said. “People said I should go and kill myself. They said they knew where I lived. I did think about it, yes. About suicide. I thought about it several times, but I think I’ve got past that stage now.”

        He said that his five-year-old granddaughter was instrumental in helping him through.

        Although he has received some high-profile support for his work, he is still receiving death threats, with two more arriving last week after the deputy information commissioner delivered his verdict.

        He ruled that UEA was in breach of the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose information, but added that it was unable to prosecute the people involved because the complaint was made too late.

        The comparison with Kelly was a disgrace. It was a deception wrapped up in another even more complex, even more toxic deception. But first some disclaimers.

        We don’t know whether Neil Wallis was responsible. We also don’t know, yet, whether Wallis was responsible in any way for any NOTW phone hacking, especially the allegations that have most digusted people: accessing and deleting the voicemail of Milly Dowler after she disappeared and similar illegal acts against the families of British forces killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. What we do know is that Rupert Murdoch last week apologised in person to the Dowler family and their lawyer. That’s how we can be sure that such stories are not fabrication. But of course we don’t know from a series of arrests who was responsible – and thus who benefited from the incredible laxity of the Metropolitan Police since the early part of the last decade.

        UEA came out with the “big lie” in response to Climategate. I can’t recall any other person in the public spotlight since 2003 who compared themselves to David Kelly. At the time I was quite sure that was something Phil Jones did because he’d been coached to do so. It took whomever was responsible till February to get Jones in such shape as they needed to let him loose on the media and this was an absolutely central plank of the message.

        When thinking through the comparison it’s important to distinguish between three categories with Kelly:

        a) stuff that’s undisputed by all

        b) stuff that quickly became part of the ‘popular myth’ of his death

        c) stuff that those who believe he was murdered have been pointing to: some of it unchallengable fact, some of it, inevitably, speculation.

        Jones and Kelly were both scientists. And in the popular myth Kelly was an entirely honourable man hounded to his death – to take his own life – by pressure from shadowy forces and, most publicly, by the fierce questioning of him by MPs in the defence select committee on 15th July 2003.

        This narrative has always been questionable, not least because close friends had contact with Kelly in the days after the committee hearing before he died (and even on the day itself) and described him as upbeat, almost relishing the fight in which he felt he was engaged. Although he clearly was startled that someone had leaked information damaging to him to members of the select committee on 15th July he’d got over it.

        But the popular myth was that someone close to Tony Blair had leaked information to certain MPs to destroy Kelly, that the “tragic boffin” (a typical Sun description for him after his ‘suicide’) had been taken completely by surprise by the horrible bullying he received from the select committee as a result and from subsequent threats that his career as a government scientist was over and thus did away with himself. In fact, what became clear afterwards is that a BBC journalist, Andrew Gilligan, had disclosed Kelly as his source for a red-hot story about Iraq WMD and this did cause the scientist unexpected problems. But that was nothing like enough (in my reading) to cause his suicide.

        I won’t try and give you my full thoughts on Kelly. He did have weaknesses but he was also a very tough cookie, willing to stand up to pressure from Saddam Hussein and others in his line of work. He was indeed, to my mind, truthful, honourable and a patriot. Although he’d had unauthorised contact with a journalist that was strictly against his terms of employment in the larger scheme of things that wasn’t such a big deal.

        Most centrally of all, someone considered him such a threat to their interests that he was murdered. The forensics and the obvious signs of a cover-up afterwards together convinced me of this long ago.

        But for Phil Jones to compare himself with David Kelly, only days before he too was due to be questioned by another, very different select committee … was a disgrace. There were no useful parallels at all. But as propaganda it was a splendid idea. The ‘poor Phil’ trope had been firmly established, leading to all the costly and stupid puffball treatment of him and those who sailed with him the rest of the year.

        Whoever dreamed up this line may well have been very high regarded by those who engaged him. The chief executive and founder of the organisation involved might even have been tempted to boast about how well his company had performed in a major profile in Music Week years later, an article that only came to light because the ex-NOTW hack at the centre had been arrested as part of Hackgate and turned out to be extremely close to certain key figures in the Metropolitan Police. It does seem to fit.

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

          The dustup between Andrew Gilligan and Blair cost the then BBC director general his post – Greg Dyke. Dyke was a popular and well regarded DG, who didn’t toe the govt line…

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

          You are totally right to take this line. Outside Organisation would not have boasted about Climategate to Musicweek if they had not succeeded at something. In the conventional sense, they have not succeeded at all – as Joe Romm bitterly complains in his Thinkprogress article. The question therefore becomes: “What did they succeed in doing then?”

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

          The fact that they dredged up the dead rat story about Ben Santer in a 2010 Congressional testimony and the fact that the Australian campaign was hit by a spot of “oh! we are getting ‘death’ threats” – with so little basis in reality, suggests that this is a successful line of argument to make.

        • Green Sand
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

          Re: Shub Niggurath (Jul 21 17:05),

          “What did they succeed in doing then?”

          Not sure that they did, from past experience, (including involvement) PR and Marketing people can be very creative with regard to their claims of past endeavours. Maybe they thought their involvement, in such a diverse, to Musicweek, environment was worth mentioning (boasting) to “big up” their scope?

          Success in PR is in the eye of the beholder, however there are some claims that there are metrics by which to measure such interventions: – http://ebiquityopinion.com/?cat=22

          So “What did they succeed in doing then?” well maybe nothing much, but that will not in anyway way stop a claim of PR success. On the other hand maybe they did in their and UEA’s eyes succeed. Only those two parties can point to and quantify the success that they “accomplished”

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

          One crucial criterion of success might have been that Phil Jones could be given his job back without public uproar. Another is that the questioning of Jones by MPs on the Scitech committee on 1st March 2010 would be gentle, as it undoubtedly was, lest Jones do a “David Kelly”. A third related one would have been that all the inquiries into Climategate should treat Jones with kid-gloves. A fourth would be that someone like Keith Olbermann this week could claim that all those inquiries looked at the emails in exhaustive detail and found nothing wrong at all. (Or whatever he said. It was shockingly wrong.)

          On all of these metrics Neil Wallis and Alan Edwards might well feel that they had good reason to boast, given the terrible publicity CRU and UEA were getting in the immediate aftermath of Climategate on 17th November 2009.

          On the other hand this meant using disgusting methods – like Jones’s comparison of himself with David Kelly, as emotional blackmail, and the involvement of Counter Terrorism police in an attempt to cower Steve McIntyre rather than listen carefully to his concerns.

          It seems fair to assume that this kind of thing was trademark Neil Wallis. Let’s see what we are going to learn about the guy in the coming months.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

          one obvious retort to claims by Olbermann et al that CRU had been cleared by multiple “investigations” – one could say the same thing about Nel Wallis, NOTW and phone hacking. There had been multiple “investigations” (e.g. by Yates) each of which had resulted in the “exoneration” of Wallis and NOTW. One of the secrets to the “exonerations” was that the evidence not be examined.

          We can all picture what an investigation of phone hacking by Muir Russell would look like. Or an investigation by Oxburgh. Or by Penn State.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

          Ha, a fertile parallel. In the NOTW phone hacking case various bags of documents, including printed emails, were deposited by News Corp at a Harbottle & Lewis, a leading firm of London solicitors. As the Daily Mail reported five days ago:

          Harbottle & Lewis’s actions have come under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that it wrote a letter to News International in 2007 in which it stated – incorrectly, it now appears – that the emails did not reveal any evidence of criminality. The letter was used by newspaper executives in their defence during a Parliamentary investigation into phone hacking in 2009.

          Andy Hayman (in 2007) and John Yates (in 2009) barely looked inside the bags and thus found no evidence of wrongdoing but when one honest man did, Lord Macdonald, former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, he said he found evidence of serious crime within five minutes.

          Who is going to be the Lord Macdonald of the Climategate emails?

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

          The Mail on Sunday article quoted above was Why did Prince William’s lawyers hide hacking evidence? Firm that advises Royals entangled in row over ‘cover up’ of 17th July.

          It’s worth saying in passing that, for me, almost the best moment of the grilling of the two Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks on Tuesday was when Louise Mensch cited Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s assertion – at another select committee on Monday – that he had never sanctioned a story based on hacking or blagging. She called this “risible”. That’s the way I saw it too.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

          I’m chasing my tail with references here but I appreciate it when others provide links and I didn’t realise until now that the BBC has the full recording of Tuesday’s session in a convenient form on its main site. Louis Mensch’s final questions, touching on the widespread nature of illegal practices in UK newspapers, begin around 2:28:00 here. She’s had criticism for using parliamentary priviledge in this way – as for me, I’d vote for her any day.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

          Richard Drake wrote:

          The Mail on Sunday article quoted above was Why did Prince William’s lawyers hide hacking evidence? Firm that advises Royals entangled in row over ‘cover up’ of 17th July.

          Here’s what caught my eye in this article (apart from the irony of that which it is alleged can be found in heretofore undisclosed emails). This law firm:

          “Harbottle & Lewis were first hired by the Prince of Wales eight years ago, at a time they were best known for their showbusiness work.”

          Hmmmm … showbusiness lawyers (NOTW), Neil Wallis (NOTW, cozy with top cops and other “heavyweight contacts”, Outside Organization**, showbusiness PR) No chance they could have moved in similar circles … Is there?! And FWIW (which is probably very little) one of the Harbottle & Lewis litigation team members is a solicitor who received his “LLB in law at the University of East Anglia”.

          But at the very least, as that famous song goes, clearly ‘There’s no business like show business’ (for disregarding conflict of interest!)

          ** Keeping in mind that OO have recently “disappeared” what traces they can of their connections to Wallis.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Permalink

          Yeah, I’d noticed the showbiz element. Another East Anglia connection from Wikipedia on Harbottle & Lewis and the hacking scandal:

          On 15 July, Rupert Murdoch in interview with the News Corp owned Wall Street Journal apologised for the News of the World letting slip the group standards of journalism. Murdoch also alleged that the group’s legal advisers, Harbottle & Lewis, had made “a major mistake” in its part in the internal investigation into phone-hacking in 2007. On 18 July, Harbottle & Lewis issued an open letter outlining its position, and appointed Luther Pendragon to handle PR issues relating to the affair.

          These PR companies. Google Luther Pendragon and Muir Russell and you’ll back to Climate Audit in a jiffy, just another month, another year. What it all means? Your guess is as good as mine.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

          I guess they had to appoint Luther Pendragon since Neil Wallis was unavailable.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

          Here are some things I didn’t know about Andy Hayman. Thanks Wikipedia.

          He joined Essex Police from school in 1978, rising to the rank of superintendent in 1995 and subsequently to Chief Superintendent in 1997. In 1998, Hayman transferred to the Metropolitan Police and gained the rank of commander, taking charge of the force’s drugs unit, before moving on to head the Directorate of Professional Standards and to serve as an aide to the deputy commissioner. From 1998 to 2005, Hayman was also the spokesman on drugs for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

          In 2002, Hayman was appointed Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary, a role in which he established the county’s Major Investigation Unit, responsible for providing a quick response to serious crime in Norfolk. While chief constable, Hayman was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the 2004 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

          Rejoining the Met in February 2005, Hayman left Norfolk to become the Metropolitan Police Service’s Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, a role which placed him in overall charge of counter-terrorism operations conducted by the now defunct Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Branch.

          Six months after taking up the post as head of Specialist Operations, Hayman was the overall head of the investigation into the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the largest criminal investigation in British history.[9] In the 2006 Queen’s Birthday Honours he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his handling of the investigation.

          Hayman resigned from the Service on 4 December 2007, following allegations about expense claims and alleged improper conduct with a female member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and a female Sergeant.

          Andy Hayman went straight from the Met to News International, as a highly-paid columnist for the Sunday Times – though, strangely, this isn’t mentioned on his Wikipedia page. Note also that before his vital role at Specialist Operations, prior to John Yates, he did his own stint at Norwich. Another connection to ask very polite questions about?

        • Posted Jul 24, 2011 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

          Andy Hayman went straight from the Met to News International, as a highly-paid columnist for the Sunday Times – though, strangely, this isn’t mentioned on his Wikipedia page.

          This also I think deserves correction or clarification. I’ve since read that Hayman’s annual income since leaving the Met is estimated to be around £200,000 per annum, of which only £10,000 has been for his column in The Times (I think, rather than the Sunday Times). I’m sorry that I now forget where I read this. Most of the income was thought to be as an independent consultant on security matters.

          This also seems a reasonable place to say that, with the 2012 Olympics coming up, the weaknesses of Hayman and Yates are not a laughing matter for Londoners. The Met’s fight against real terrorism has surely been weakened – and may be further weakened by continuous (though necessary) navel-gazing from all the inquiries into Hackgate and related matters now announced or extant.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

          one obvious retort to claims by Olbermann et al that CRU had been cleared by multiple “investigations” – one could say the same thing about Nel Wallis, NOTW and phone hacking. There had been multiple “investigations” (e.g. by Yates) each of which had resulted in the “exoneration” of Wallis and NOTW. One of the secrets to the “exonerations” was that the evidence not be examined.

          We can all picture what an investigation of phone hacking by Muir Russell would look like. Or an investigation by Oxburgh. Or by Penn State.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

          Green Sand,
          It is true that, (1) CRU’s reputation is not one of a shining beacon of virtue, (2) PR hacks tend to exaggerate both ways, both inwardly and outwardly. But if you follow Acton’s lament – that they CRU was giving many emollient interviews but all journos wanted to do, was talk to Phil Jones – what would a PR person brought in at this juncture advise to remedy this situation?

          No doubt, he would likely point out – “you guys are good, but your story that all these emails amount to not much malfeasance, has no hook. Give the media a hook, a point to bite in, into your side of the story first. Garner some sympathy and attention first, and then tell your story’ (or something like that).

          I don’t think Jones was in any way dishonest in his visible outwardly reaction to Climategate (it was there for everyone to see). But all the bits about his beta-blockers, his granddaughter story, his ‘David Kelly moment’, all the key words the media used around him – ‘hounded by skeptics’, flooded by FOI requests, harassed, his life ‘ripped apart’ (Nature), etc – the decision to highlight these aspects and present them to the media – one always wonders whose they were.

          “In March, when a frail and hesitant Jones answered questions before an investigating parliamentary committee, his appearance reminded many of the distressing 2003 case of David Kelly”
          – again, Nature magazine, in Nov 2010.

        • Viv Evans
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

          The bits and key words used by the media in regard to ‘frail’ Phil Jones which you quote above sound very similar to phrases used by tabloid journos.
          Looks like Mr Wallis knew his trade very well and knew which buttons to press …

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jul 23, 2011 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

        The comparison seems to turn up first in a Feb 7, 2010 interview. In the same interview, Jones untruthfully said that FOI requests in July 2009 had “provoked” him to threaten to delete data in January 2005 and then to actually seek the deletion of emails in May 2008. Not that anyone at the University of East Anglia seems to care about dishonesty:

        But he pleads provocation. Last year in July alone the unit received 60 FoI requests from across the world. With a staff of only 13 to cope with them, the demands were accumulating faster than they could be dealt with. “According to the rules,” says Jones, “you have to do 18 hours’ work on each one before you’re allowed to turn it down.” It meant that the scientists would have had a lot of their time diverted from research…

        It was pure irritation, he says, that provoked him and others to write the notorious emails apparently conspiring to destroy or withhold data. “It was just frustration. I thought the requests were just distractions. It was taking us away from our day jobs. It was written in anger.”

  15. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

    You are correct and I in no way meant to insinuate that News Corp. was involved in the CRU intrusion. The connection to “the Air Vent” is indeed telling. While tAV was important in the Hockey Stick debate, it was never a particularly prominent blog. I can only envision two ways that tAV ended up involved, either it was picked at random from the blogroll at WUWT, or the hacker (this scenario necessitates a true hack) was a regular reader/participant in the discussions at the skeptic blogs. Look around…it might have been one of us! Not me though, I could not hack my way out of tall grass.

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

      Matt, yes I think that’s exactly right (BTW, I didn’t mean to appear to be ridiculing your comment, I was rather reacting to the theory, put forth by others, the News Corp could have been involved). Had News Corp hacked into UEA servers and gotten the goods — information so explosive that it could undermine the policy initiatives of nearly all of the major countries in the world — they surely would have put it out themselves, rather than using some backwater (sorry Jeff) blog. They simply would have said that it was obtained through unnamed sources.

      In any case Joe Romm is pushing this idea and calling for a full investigation. I agree that there should be a full investigation and I encourage Joe to light that petard.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

        The first link to the files (during their short residence at realclimate) was an obscure embedded hyperlink in a comment at Climate Audit that no one noticed until Gavin Schmidt pointed it out a couple of days later. About 12 hours later, links were placed in comments at Air Vent, Roman Mureika’s, Warren Meyer’s and WUWT. They were held in suspense at WUWT. Jeff Id was away at the time. The link at Jeff Id’s was noticed first by Mosher or CTM and Mosher then publicized the link at Lucia’s, then at CA. Anthony was in Europe at the time and wanted to be back in the US before posting the link at WUWT.

        The selection of emails was heavily oriented towards core CA issues.

        • Green Sand
          Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

          Re: Steve McIntyre (Jul 20 17:40),

          The selection of emails was heavily oriented towards core CA issues.

          Funnily, that has always been my impression, but my involvement to date has never been sufficient to make such a claim.

          With rapid moving developments it is very easy to get carried along with the flow. We are now well passed the initial flow, looking again at the release I cannot not get away from my view that somebody had a “tale to tell”, something prompted their need to get this experience out into the outside world and they felt that strongly about the facts that they had no fear of supplying to “both sides” of the divide. I actually believe that they thought that the revelations might awaken RC and produce a reaction. Well I supposed it did, but hey ho.

          Whilst the climategate release might be seen as the result of somebody railing against the suppression of publically owned data, it is possible that it was motivated more by their contempt of the arrogant way in which the suppression was carried out.

        • Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

          Whilst the climategate release might be seen as the result of somebody railing against the suppression of publically owned data, it is possible that it was motivated more by their contempt of the arrogant way in which the suppression was carried out.

          That’s exactly my view. Very well put.

      • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Permalink


        I’m not at all offended but my ‘backwater’ climate blog had and still has substantially more readers than our town newspaper even when I’m not regularly blogging. I don’t at all believe newscorp had anything to do with the hacking, nor do I believe that those who released the files were particularly sophisticated in their understanding of the issues, although they had a good grasp.

  16. bill
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    The idea that News International was somehow involved in the CRU hack is plain bonkers. If it were wicked Murdoch minions, why would they stick the emails on some obscure server. Since this stuff was news, why wouldn’t they stick it what they have a lot of, newspapers?

  17. dearieme
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    “The limited number of English names in use doesn’t help googling.” .. “Trevor Davies”…
    “Rob Evans”: strictly, they sound like Welsh names to me.

    Anyway, how can you resist showing a graph of references to phone-hacking that looks just like a hockey stick?

  18. j ferguson
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Reputation Management sounds a lot like an endeavor to break Rule 13 in Golf. It’s called “improving the lie.”

  19. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Kind of ironic that this scandal would hit now and scratch the scab of climategate all over again. Almost like a divine hand does not want UEA to escape the hot seat!

  20. mpaul
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

    So far the press seem less interested in the ‘official corruption’ angle of the story and more interested in indulging their collective obsession in bringing Murdoch down. The Climategate angle doesn’t have a chance unless this story arc shifts to official corruption. Then perhaps the press will get curious as to what Neil Wallis did for UEA.

  21. R.S.Brown
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    It’s wonderful that the Grist item by Joe Romm may bring mainstream media’s attention
    to the little piece of the phone-hacking scandal that involves a number of the same
    players on UAE/CRU’s side in the aftermath of Climategate.

    Of course some folks may not want to do anything that might highlight those nasty
    rulings by the Information Commissioner saying UAE illegally blocked legitimate FOI
    requests and withheld data.

    They may not even mention or hint in their blog articles that there ever were FOI
    scandals or adverse rulings at UAE/CRU in their blog articles… just like Joe.

  22. Jonas
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    I think it likely someone will uncover a Wallis-UEA-MetPolice-Norfolk Police who may have been instructed to do nothing about climategate because they (Norfolk) found out it was a qualified insider (and then Met told them to pin up). Hence the utter silence from the Norfolk Police investigation. Maybe it will be forced out now.

  23. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    It seems to me that universities keep busy with PR by sending out glowing news items about their facilities and awards–has anyone ever heard of a USA university hiring someone to do “covert ops”? Seems simply astonishing to me.

    • BillyBob
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

      I think universities have more than enough employees on staff these days to do their own PR.

      “Take the California State University system, the second tier in that state’s public higher education. Between 1975 and 2008 the number of faculty rose by 3 percent, to 12,019 positions. During those same years the number of administrators rose 221 percent, to 12,183. That’s right: There are more administrators than teachers at Cal State now.”


  24. Jonas
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    Joe Romm will back off this story like lighting once he realizes its the other way round(from his theory) above or in Grist). mpaul: its more likely that the Wallis police connection is the relevant one. Wallis may have influenced the police (look at his obvious police connection), to instruct Norfolk Branch to NOT investigate or at least not reveal the results (because it likely was an insider) at the bequest of UEA. The whole thing stinks (my view). BTW anyone know Wallis’s stance on AGW? could be a clue if he was found to be pro.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

      Readers reflecting about the puzzling decision to use a former NOTW editor as “reputation manager” might keep in mind that CRU and at least one senior UEA official had no compunction of using leaked documents that they were not entitled to. Recall the following excerpt from an email sent to the CRU Five:

      I now have a leaked document which spells out some of the research councils’ thinking. I will get a copy over to CRU today. Please keep this document within the CRU5, since it may compromise the source.

      • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 4:05 AM | Permalink

        “In their behaviour towards those without a voice of their own, News International descended from the gutter to the sewer,” he declared, speaking for more than half an hour to a packed House of Commons. “The tragedy is that they let the rats out of the sewer.”

        That was Gordon Brown eight days ago, giving vent to his own fury (and despite all the cynics I felt the passion was totally genuine as I happened to chance on this moment live) – fury against the intrusion of two News International tabloids into his own family and others he knew were much less able to protect themselves. This accurately describes for me what we are dealing with on both sides (UEA and nexus, NOTW and nexus). But unlike NI and its pinnacle, Rupert Murdoch, who is widely reviled, the other side, from Jones to Pachauri to whatever ‘very high level’ there may turn out to be, has enjoyed for far too long the false protection of the green halo, blinding not just to those on the left but many across the political spectrum, especially in the UK and Europe. This makes the toxicity of Wallis – arrested about alleged hacking at the hated NOTW, including the phone of a murdered teenager – as reputation manager for UEA in late 2009 a colosal PR problem of its own in July 2011. The attempt to re-spin the existing witches brew into Climategate itself being another hack by NI is, as many have already said, bonkers. If that’s the best the new generation of reputation managers can come up with the official narrative is in deep trouble. But we need chronology and process on Wallis’s engagement and delivery for UEA.

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

      mpaul: its more likely that the Wallis police connection is the relevant one.

      Yes exactly. Was Wallis attempting to corrupt the police investigation in some way? I suspect (I have no proof) that UEA came up the the ‘Russian hacking’ story all by themselves in the early evolution of the story. Evidence for this is that UEA was spreading the hacking story for a number of days before they filed a police report. If you really are a victim of a crime, you call the police immediately. But UEA didn’t do that. They invented the hacking story thinking it would take the heat off of them. But they didn’t think it through, they painted themselves into a corner. Once the press started to run with the ‘hacking story’, UEA was compelled to file a police report. It would be a basis question the press would start asking: ‘why haven’t you filed a police report’? So they realized that they had to contact the police to make the ruse work. But if the police investigation showed that it was an inside job, then UEA would have a ‘reputation management’ issue to deal with. So its not inconceivable that UEA hired Wallis to manage the police communications issue. It would be a high level, behind-the-scenes effort — work your connections at Scotland Yard to put pressure on Norfolk to *not* communicate to the press. In effect, leave things in the ‘on-going investigation’ status permanently.

  25. geo
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    Show me the list of high-profile “reputation managers” that haven’t had their share of nasty clients and I’ll be more interested. Otherwise this story is much like convicting an accused murderer because his defense lawyer has defended other convicted murderers in the past.

    • Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

      Has another university ever retained a PR company employing ex-tabloid hacks to conduct covert operations to prop up its more dishonest scientists reputations? Possibly this is the norm in climatology – in science it is atypical. (Mind you, it may explain Paul Nurse’s Nobel prize – we live and learn).

    • Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 8:45 PM | Permalink

      When the Rep Manager is himself a slimeball, that’s where the line is crossed.

  26. Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

    With his connections, Wallis would seem a “fixer.” He could try to influence Scotland Yard.
    He might also bring in “private eye” investigators to try to diagnose the source of the Climategate leak of emails.

  27. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

    Note how the Guardian paper can only distinguish between hacking and leaking when it suits them: adversaries hack, see UEA e-mails, NotW. Friends leak: Wikileaks. The Norfolk police is sitting on the UEA matter for 20 months now ??!), but we can safely claim that the UEA e-mails were leaked.

    Note also how now the parliamentary inquiry into the press/politics/police nexus is suddenly well equipped, given wide scope, can now go “where the evidence leads them”; the Climategate inquiry was not THAT much in the spotlight and thus outfitted shoddily.

  28. EdeF
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    You can’t hire a reputation manager or consultant. Reputation is something you earn
    the hard way, by spending years and years doing the right thing, doing the hard thing.
    The fact the UEA would try to improve their reputation by hiring some flack from the

  29. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:36 AM | Permalink

    The UEA assertion that it is “very difficult for a good employer to get reputation management right” conveys deep misunderstanding. The statement is inverted.
    The principle is better phrased “The reputation of a good manager grows without management”. Good reputations grow from good deeds. Climategate showed a lack.

    • pesadia
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

      Agreed, a good employer would render the post of “Reputation Manager” redundant.
      Their statement amounts to a contradiction in terms.

    • j ferguson
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:52 AM | Permalink

      I took this to mean that a good outfit would be inexperienced in the management of their reputation – the process if you will, having mot previously had a need for it.

    • j ferguson
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 7:00 AM | Permalink

      Maybe I can enlarge on this a little. Suppose that an institution’s administration has never faced a major flap. Suppose that prior flaplets could be met with the simple truth, the truth being known to the administration and its disclosure not thought to be especially damaging to the institution’s reputation.

      Now comes a major flap. It is very public and has international exposure. the components of the flap can be understood by anyone who will take the trouble to read a few emails and some of the excellent commentary on them to be found here and other “Skeptic” sites.

      The administration doesn’t yet know the truth (perpetrator) but most of the possibilities are not so good, and several are terrible.

      I find it entirely reasonable that an administration inexperienced in a situation of this sort with this level of international exposure would seek assistance from Outside, and maybe from someone with specific experience in the mechanics of the problem.

      I continue to think the emails publication was an inside job. I strongly suspect that the perpetrator is now known to the university and that the disclosure of the perpetrator’s identity would be an embarrassment to the institution. If he/she was a lesser light, he/she would be climbing out from under the bus as this is written.

      That the Norfolk Constabulary has not seized upon a miscreant is further support of this view. He/she is not an outsider. It was not a hack, and the actual act is not subject to prosecution and hence no announcement. And it is unlikely there will ever be one, if the perpetrator has no real reason to own up.

      See, it’s simple, isn’t it.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

        The potential problems for East Anglia in catching an insider was discussed early on (Nov 21, 2009) at CA here in which defences under UK whistleblowing legislation were reviewed.

        Obviously, any whistleblower who was caught and prosecuted would defend himself or herself under the above provisions of UK Whistleblower legislation. It’s pretty easy to see that the behavior of the Team would be put on trial. I doubt that the University would simply concede that the conditions of section 43B were met and then try to argue that the disclosure was excessive (thereby not finding a safe haven under 43G or 43H.)

        I think that the University would realize that any such prosecution would turn into an embarrassing spectacle. Easier to blame it on Russian hackers.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

          Given, the above, and that the university’s interpretation of the circumstances of the disclosure provides the discloser the protection of the whistleblower legislation, then is there any way to compel the university to disgorge (better word, too many disclosures in this comment) the name of the discloser?

          It might be for reasons with which I have direct experience that all would agree, especially the discloser that it would be better to leave the name unknown.

          Steve, what do you think?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

          you’re presuming that the university knows. That’s rather premature. It’s far more likely that they don’t know.

          BTW I was reviewing contemporary documents to see how the idea of Russian hackers and/or Russian security services got into play. IN the CA post just linked,
          https://climateaudit.org/2009/11/21/uk-whistleblower-legislation/ I mention “Russian hacker” so presumably it was in the air by then, but I’m not sure by who.

          The idea of “Russian security services” was popularized in an article in the Daily Mail in early December – this seems like the sort of thing that Neil Wallis might have encouraged.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

          An alternative explanation for two years elapsing without identification of the leaker is that they are going to prosecute, and it will be more than one person. It took five years between discovery and indictment for the whistleblowing incident with which I’m familiar. Many people were involved and their levels of criminality needed to be assessed and plea-bargains negotiated. A symptom of this might be that the norfolk constabulary, or the prosecutor’s office (if that is what they have over their) would have a full-time mid-level person assigned to this case. That seems to be something we could know.

          Can i assume that you think that my other scenario (they know) is unrealistic because the name would have leaked by now?

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

          If the university knew the identity of the whistleblower, the whistleblower knew that the university knew and it became clear that the whistleblower was not going to be prosecuted then surely the person concerned would by now have made themselves known to their many admirers across the world. Perhaps like Sean Hoare they are on longer in a position to do so. I continue to think that it’s most likely to have been an inside job; beyond that I know that I don’t know.

          Because a Russian server was used to disseminate FOI2009.zip after the original RealClimate hack of 17th November 2009 was discovered and reversed by Gavin Schmidt, the Russian hacker theory was always for me an understandable one, given most people’s lack of understanding of how the internet works. Once it’s the Russians, it’s the “FSB, formerly the KGB” – that doesn’t for me need Wallis, that’s standard tabloid fare, a new angle on a story of considerable public interest, easily deniable later (as it was by the Russians themselves as reported in the Mail of 13th December, at the end of David Rose’s excellent summary of Climategate that day).

          But we don’t know when Wallis was taken on and when he finished his assignment. I’ve always felt that the “poor Phil” propaganda was more significant and more likely to have involved intensive spin doctoring than the various hacking theories. The death threats Jones claimed to have received are another extremely serious part of the picture – starting in November and still being received in February, according to the Telegraph article I quote from above. As far I know nobody has ever shown an example of such a death threat and nobody has been prosecuted for what would rightly be considered an extremely serious crime.

          In short, to take a phrase out of David Cameron’s book as he battled to replace Gordon Brown at exactly this time, we are being treated as fools. But very slowly, as Neil Wallis’s involvement in the NOTW hacking scandal becomes clear (and perhaps in police corruption), the opportunity to make this point much more forcibly will I’m sure arise.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

          Richard Drake,
          I’m not at all sure that a whistleblower knowing that he/she had been discovered and also knowing that he/she would not be prosecuted would make his/her name public. My direct experience is that a known whistleblower is never again likely to be re-employed. This does not preclude a settlement to keep the present position, which again might be part of the nobody talks deal.

          Whistleblowing of even the most criminal activity is a career-ender. No matter how wonderful we think their contributions, employers,(departments?) don’t want them around. A youngster might not have figured this out, but a graduate student or post-doc would likely have been thrown under the bus, if known, by now, and we’d know who did it.

          The thing that makes the who-did-it so very interesting is that the files found their way to a Russian server. If whoever did the leaking was a climate person, they would themselves have had knowledge of this port-to-the-public or had a friend who did.

          We know enough ourselves that if we had access to the array of possible leakers, it should not be impossible to limit the “miscreants” to a very small number. That is among the reasons why I think they already know.

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

          In the very first statement made my UEA on November 21, 2009, they claimed that the incident was a hacking and that they had notified the police on November 20, 2009. In the statement UEA said:

          This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved the police in this inquiry.”

          This sets up the hacking narrative.

          The BBC reported that the police confirmed that an investigation had started on November 23rd, but there was not official statement by the police until December 1st. Most of the early police effort centered around threats that Phil Jones had been receiving. Despite their statement, there is no evidence that the University actually contacted the police about hacking in the early days.

          The echo chamber started circulating the Russian hacker angle almost immediately. Our friend BigCityLib wrote about the Russian Hacking angle on November 20th http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/2009/11/cru-hacked.html . And you’ll find lots of blog comments on the proponent’s side beginning on the 20th. Comments are the Guardian blog repeat the Russian hacker narrative here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/20/climate-sceptics-email-hacking

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

      “very difficult for a good employer to get reputation management right”.

      This is a somewhat odd phrase. They use the term ’employer’ — not ‘university, not ‘institution’, but ’employer’. The word ’employer’ describes the relationship the institution has with its employees. You usually don’t refer to an institution or a company as an ’employer’ unless the context of the conversation is the employment relationship. So I interpreted this phrase to mean that the struggle UEA was having was in how to be an advocate for its employees while still defending its reputation. In other words, it would have been easy to throw employees under the bus to defend the reputation of the institution, what was difficult was defending the reputation of the institution AND defending its employees at the same time.

      Universities are very paternalistic places. In the private sector (and particularly with a publicly traded company) the obligations that executives have to shareholders trumps the obligations they have to employees (that’s just tthe way it is). So you would never see a public company defending obvious employee misconduct the way UEA did. Ultimately, the paternalism of the university contributed to the damage to its reputation.

      • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

        That’s a helpful insight. My impression of Davies the two times I’ve seen him – the Guardian debate at which he said this and a science and technology select committee hearing on 27th October, after which I spoke to him in the corridor – accords with this view. They look after their own. In other situations it would be laudable. The fact that they needed Neil Wallis to do it in this case is a sign that something had gone badly wrong. As Phil Jones says in the Telegraph article that began with his inviting a comparison with David Kelly:

        “I am just a scientist. I have no training in PR or dealing with crises.”

        That line came from the PR man I’m sure. We know from the emails themselves that Phil isn’t quite as unworldly as he sounds. Nor are any of these guys.

        • Biddyb
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

          Spot on. I recall reading Jones’ emails and then reeling in disbelief at the “quotes” from him that appeared that gave the poor little old me line; they just had to be written by a PR person. The contrast was just too great. He came across in the emails as a quite tough and rather vindictive person and somewhat lacking in integrity vis the reviewing process.

  30. Chu
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:26 AM | Permalink

    Plain Speaking PR Limited is based in Norwich.



    Plain Speaking PR is a Partnership between Pippa Lain and Amber Davis.

    “Amber Davis
    Amber brings a range of skills to Plain Speaking PR including senior level experience of managing consumer brand PR, music and event activity. She started her career at freud communications and went on to work at the Outside Organisation.
    Clients she has devised and managed campaigns for include Jack Daniel’s, The Carphone Warehouse, Sony Europe, Q, MOBO and many others.”

  31. DEEBEE
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

    COnsidering Walis’ success Davies is ironically correct.

  32. pat
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    perhaps not unexpectedly, the Joe Romm show has begun on Al Gore’s Current TV, no less, as reported by “progressive blog, Raw Story:

    20 July: Raw Story: Eric W. Dolan: (Keith) Olbermann: News Corp. could be behind ‘Climate Gate’ hacking
    On Countdown Wednesday night, Keith Olbermann discussed with Joe Romm, editor of ClimateProgress.org, the possibility that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation was behind the “Climate Gate” hacking…
    “Climate change scientists and outside experts agree that, with Neil Wallis at the helm, the Climatic Research Unit couldn’t have done a worse job defending itself,” Olbermann noted on his blog. “The myth that its emails ‘disprove’ Global Warming persists today.”
    Watch video, courtesy of Current TV.

    comments not all going Al’s way…

  33. mpaul
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

    RE: the Keith Olbermann story — oh the irony! UEA is going to find themselves back in center of controversy because *Joe Romm* is demanding answers!! In the military they would call this a friendly fire incident.

    • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

      It’s a nice thought. But all the running is being made by Climate Audit, thanks to reader Chu. These guys have no available theories to account for the presence of Neil Wallis in the Climategate story. Are they asking the key questions like how it was the counter terrorism group got involved in the police investigations? They’re a faint echo of the debate that’s going on here and I think they know it.

  34. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Those speculating that the UEA intrusion was an inside job should be aware that there is some countervailing evidence. The Guardian investigation yielded the following:
    “Significantly, [a timestamp] analysis suggests that the archive was created on a machine running five hours behind GMT, which would put it on the east coast of North America.”
    Suspicion of cyberattacks originating from foreign soil likely explains the involvement of the anti-extremist police (not counterterrorism), and perhaps also the harassment of Steve. Others have suggested that timestamps can be manipulated, but since my ignorance on the topic is complete, I offer no opinion.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

      The police officer who contacted me identified himself as a Counter Terrorism officer.

      I don’t recall any verification of the supposed timestamp analysis. Mosher argued that the bleaching of time stamps on the documents was evidence of local access, though this is far from conclusive.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

      Let’s not forget about the possibility posed by the Guardian here http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/04/climate-change-email-hacker-police-investigation (folowing CTM’s suggestion):

      Climate emails: were they really hacked or just sitting in cyberspace?: Slack security or subversion at the university may have led to ‘unintentional sharing’, making the police investigation pointless

      The Guardian pointed out that the University might have left the server exposed and, at the end of the day, there would be no one to prosecute.

      The University claimed that its systems were “sophisticated”, but, to my knowledge, there hasnt been any independent report confirming this.

      • mpaul
        Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

        And if my memory is correct there was a lot of discussion going on at CA at the time about data sitting on open but unpublished URLs at UEA. The theory that says that FOIA2009.zip was compiled by the university while researching Steve’s FOIA and then left on an unpublished URL where it was discovered by someone probing unpublished URLs, seems like the most likely explanation. But if the police were to report this, then UEA would need to answer questions about their conduct surrounding the denial of Steve’s FOIA — questions they surely would like to avoid.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

          I like this theory the best.

          Steve: I view this theory as completely improbable and urge readers not to spend time on it here.

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

          But surely in this case the person that released the file for a wider audience would have made themselves known? (I’m willing to bow to others’ knowledge on whether whistleblowers own up, having no first-hand experience of the matter – I take the point that employment prospects would be badly affected.)

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

          Spooky – I wrote even as Steve did in Voice of God mode!

        • Peter S
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

          I mentioned it at the time and it wasn’t a very well-recieved theory… but Tamino was participating in the Team email exchanges using a Hotmail address. Apparently, these are easy to hack. Back then, quite a few people were antagonised by his outspokenness and the heavy-handed censorship on his site – not to mention there being a general wish to ‘out’ his true identity. Once hacked in, there was a wealth of material, including server passwords (as the email haul shows).

          It may be a strange coincidence, but Tamino closed down his blogging activities almost completely for a couple of weeks immediately prior to the Climategate files appearing online – claiming he had somehow injured both his hands and could no longer type. Perhaps the Team had discovered beforehand that a hack had taken place, the backdoor entrance the hacker used – and the storm that was about to break.

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

          I’m going to respect Steve’s wishes to not pull the thread OT by speculating on old theories. But to tie this back to the suggestion that the hack was a black ops mission by News Corp — at the time there was a lot of discussion here that the tone of the ‘a miracle just happened’ posting led people to believe that the poster was young (late teens early 20s). Nothing about the disclosure looked like it came from a sophisticated, international news organization. If this was a “kid” who found the file (I will still argue, at another time, that the file was pre-compiled and there is a simple explanation for the date bleaching) and posted it on the Russian servers as a lark — then I imagine that person was overwhelmed and frightened by the exposure it got. So frightened in fact, that to this day, he/she has never told another sole and lives in fear that he/she will be discovered.

          The emotional and intellectual sophistication needed to seek whistle blower status through the legal process only comes with age.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

          the people who parked a car on the roof of a Cambridge college apparently remained unidentified until the 50th reunion of their class.

        • Oxbridge Prat
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

          The people who parked a car on the roof of the Cambridge Senate House were only formally identified 50 years after the event. But the Dean of Caius College sent the perpetrators a case of champagne the day after the car appeared; everyone knew who they were.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

          the News Corp thing is just a fabrication by Romm without any evidence or even logic. I can’t imagine that anyone at News Corp even knew where the University of East Anglia was located, let alone cared about CRU. It’s hardly even worth discussing.

        • Green Sand
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

          Re: Steve McIntyre (Jul 21 15:49),

          Maybe Romm has employed The Outside Organisation to help “get the message out there”?

        • Martin Brumby
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 7:42 AM | Permalink


          “So frightened in fact, that to this day, he/she has never told another sole….”

          Sounds fishy!


        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

          people made that speculation, but the file had NOTHING to do with my FOI. Also the bleaching of access times for the documents counts against the compilation being done by a bureaucrat. I presently view this scenario as totally improbable. I view the label FOIA.zip as being of a manifesto than a file label,

          This doesn’t preclude someone finding an open doorway. Someone mentioned to me recently (offline) that they recall encountering a strange doorway in the wake of the mole incident, but that they didn’t go through it. None of the reports to date have reported on this. Seems like something that should have been reported on by now.

        • Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

          FOIA as manifesto has always been the way it’s read to me. Respect, once again, to whoever had the wit and the heart to do it.

      • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

        If their systems was “sophisticated” in regards to any known standards of IT security, it would not have been necessary to take the webserver down after the files were dispersed.

        While my theory of what may have happened is not necessarily true, the evidence of sloppy IT practices is abundantly (robustly) clear. I’m guessing one CPU served as webserver, ftp server, and perhaps even email server. It was probably a WIN2K installation. It was probably 3 to 10 years old.

    • Hu McCulloch
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

      Matt Skaggs
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 11:41 AM
      Those speculating that the UEA intrusion was an inside job should be aware that there is some countervailing evidence. The Guardian investigation yielded the following:

      “Significantly, [a timestamp] analysis suggests that the archive was created on a machine running five hours behind GMT, which would put it on the east coast of North America.”

      Perhaps it’s just semantic, but I regard EST as 5 hours beforeGMT. UTC+0500 is used in parts of Kazakhstan, though not Novosibirsk or Tomsk (+0700).

      • simon abingdon
        Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

        “I regard EST as 5 hours beforeGMT.” Just American arrogance, I suppose.

  35. Anoneumouse
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    Just for information. Scotland Yard was not called in by the Norfolk Constabulary as stated by Joe Romm.

    The actual unit called in by Norfolk Constabulary was ACPO Ltd (private police force) National Domestic Extremism Team (NDET) http://www.acpo.police.uk/NationalPolicing/NCDENationalCoordinatorDomesticExtremism/NationalDomesticExtremismTeamNDET.aspx

  36. Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Didn’t Antony Weiner spend a few tedious days claiming that he had been the subject of a hacking attack? Strangely US journalists weren’t convinced. Perhaps the UK journalists are little easier to covertly mislead? Perhaps everyone is scared of Wallis – because he knows where the previous indiscretions are buried? Now that Romm et al are making noises on this subject perhaps a US journalist will delve and extract some information from the UEA and the police….?

  37. Stacey
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    My view, for what it’s worth, is that Wallis probably was recommended or put forward by the government or government appointees. My reasoning and, with no offence to readers, the UEA’s scientists and administrators tend to be left wingers and it would be abhohrrent for them to get into bed with anyone tarred with being or having been on the payroll of Murdoch.

    It would not surprise me to discover that a government department paid Outside Organisation’s bill.

    This fits in with earlier posts showing the cosy relationship between the tragically comic characters involved in the leak and their old boys club interactions.

    I cannot recall who, but one poster referred to King’s discussion of climate gate, mentioning hacking and mobile phone interception in one breath. Now, wherever did he get that from?

    Dear Steve

    You are often praised by posters and I hope you dont get bored with it, but thanks again for your diligent work.

  38. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Anoneumouse, that clears up my confusion on counterextremism vs. counterterrorism. Apparently both were involved.

  39. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    I can no longer find it, but there was a story on the web that someone nosing around “fell through” the security at UEA. Rather than trespass, they reported it, stating that an intrusion would be easily traced back to their computer. The Guardian mentions it without a name, but elsewhere I recall that the statement was attributed to Doug Keenan. I’m going from memory so no way to confirm. Regardless, I consider this reasonable support for the possibility that no real hack occurred. On the other hand, someone had to figure out how to hack into RC as an administrator!

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 21, 2011 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

      At the time, UEA was fond of putting-up un-index web pages on the public internet for things that they wanted to share between departments for with other people outside of the university but not make public. If you embed a ‘noindex’ html meta tag into a web page, it will not get indexed. This means that this page will not ‘found’ by Google and would not get returned as a search result. But, anyone who knows the url, can simply type it into a browser and see the page. Its called security through obscurity and its easily compromised.

      If this file was on an un-index page of the public internet, then it was neither a hack nor a leak. UEA simply mishandled the file. They would have effectively published it to the public internet and could not claim that it was proprietary thereafter. But all of this pre-supposes that the emails had been compiled into a file by UEA. If not, then (a) someone needed to gain access to the mail server or backup server, and go through 100s of thousands of emails or (b) an insider could have been squirreling away incriminating emails for 10 years just waiting for a chance to unleash their wrath.

      In all likelihood, the admin password for RC was contained in an email that was removed for those published. Never the less, someone using that password to gain unauthorized access to the blog would be violating the law. The RC incident was a hack.

  40. Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

    The police officer who contacted me identified himself as a Counter Terrorism officer./blockquote>

    Steve, this is (probably nothing more than sheer coincidence but) quite curious. In Sept. 2009, John Yates (recently resigned buddy of Neil Wallis, “lead” OO consultant on their “climategate job”) was Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police – although his “day job” was “Head of Counter-Terrorism and other matters” according to this uncorrected transcript of oral evidence he gave to the U.K. HoC Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of a followup to their “Press Standards, Privacy and Libel” report.

    Yates’ performance at this March 24, 2011 hearing puts that of Muir Russell (and indeed Sir Humphrey, himself!) to shame! He was dancing on the head of a PIN (not to put too fine a point on it) in order to justify the very, very narrow “interpretation” of the law under which he (and/or his underlings/overlings) had decided to limit the original 2006(?) investigation/charges against NOTW employees/contractors.

    If you read the transcript noted above (Warning: it’s very long – in no small measure due to Yates’ amazing oral acrobatics), you’ll see that Yates had been Head of Counter-Terrorism since April 2009. His “responses” to the questions put to him would suggest that the higher one rises within a bureaucratic hierarchy, the greater the fog one is required to generate. But I digress …

    Did it then (or does it now) not strike you as somewhat odd that a “counter-terrorism officer” should have contacted you in the course of an investigation that was (supposedly) being conducted by the Norfolk police?

    Not to mention that such a dedication of resources from Yates’ bailiwick is quite counter to the impression one is left with after reading the transcript – from which one gleans that his story is that it is a a matter of priorizing the deploymeant of “resources” in the manner most likely to yield results leading to “sustainable” [my pun not his] charges.

    Furthermore, unless my memory is failing me, were you not also subsequently contacted by the RCMP on this same matter?!

    And I won’t even mention the sublime irony ludicrous contrast of such contacts from law enforcement officials with the glaringly obvious lack of contact from those who should have contacted you (HoC, Oxburgh, Muir Russessl)

    Oh, well … sorry, I just did mention it … but from where I’m sitting, there’s something wrong with this picture!

    • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

      Sorry, I seem to have missed an < and the above was in response to Steve’s https://climateaudit.org/2011/07/20/east-anglias-toxic-reputation-manager/?replytocom=298880#comment-298832

      Memo to self: use Firefox rather than MSIE when reading CA

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

      I was contacted by an officer from the Norfolk Constabulary. Disclosures by the Norfolk Constabulary indicate that 40 people were interviewed by them. My understanding was the Norfolk Constabulary were conducting *all* of the interviews related to the Climategate disclosures. So I’m a bit surprised that Steve was contacted by the Counter Terrorism group. This raises some interesting questions, particularly considering the new information about Yates connection to Neil Wallis. Curiouser and curiouser.

      • John Whitman
        Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM | Permalink


        In order to see how far down in the OO/CRU rabbit hole good old Scotland Yard has gone, we need an English terrier of a journalist to go down into the OO/Wallis/CRU rabbit hole and nose around.

        Where is that journalist? The fact that he hasn’t materialized is evidence enough for me that within the government of England there is pressure being brought to hold off media investigation of the affair of OO/Wallis/CRU.

        Perhaps Alice knows?


      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

        The Counter Terrorism officer was seconded to Norfolk Constabulary at the time that he contacted me. We discussed this in Jan-Feb 2010:

        DC889 IRWIN
        Counter Terrorism Intelligence Officer
        Special Branch,
        Protective Services
        Norfolk Constabulary HQ

        In previous discussions, I don’t think that the “Special Branch” connection was ever mentioned or analysed.

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

          Officer Irwin was the same individual who interviewed me, but he used a different title:

          DC889 IRWIN
          Protective Services
          Norfolk Constabulary HQ
          Falconer’s Chase
          NR18 0WW

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

          With all respect to DC Irwin, who must be a busy man, the common element in both titles is “Protective Services”. It’s not a phrase I have detailed experience of, but another police force, Mercia Police, define it thus:

          The police service must be able to deal effectively with terrorism, serious crime and other major challenges to public safety. The term “Protective Services” is used to describe the police response to these most serious crimes and the potential threats from which the public must be protected. They are a key priority for the force and an integral part of our mission to protect the public and to ensure that the public have confidence in us and feel safe.

          Protective services include

          . . counter-terrorism and domestic extremism,
          . . serious organised and cross-border crime,
          . . civil contingencies and emergency planning,
          . . critical incident management,
          . . major crime,
          . . public order,
          . . strategic roads policing,
          . . protecting vulnerable people.

          So the difference between the two interviews and how they were framed was not as great as it would have seemed.

          This is still so shocking as a way of framing Climategate that one doesn’t know whether to laugh, cry or dance a little jig whilst throwing one’s tin-foil hat in the air.

          Much though I’d like to find the connection between the leaking of the Climategate emails and strategic roads policing my eyes are almost irrestibly drawn to “protecting vulnerable people”. It was all about poor Phil. One or two of those here present had even dared to criticise one of the most vulnerable man on the planet. Al-Qaeda had to take a back seat, with the acts of mass murder. This was really serious.

        • Viv Evans
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Permalink


          This is looking like a shadowy network of who-knows-whom. No obvious connections, but long-standing, informal contacts between key persons: Yates (counter-terrorism police chief -> Neil Wallis, former NotW journalist, with knowledge of phone hacking (no evidence yet of personal malfeasance/involvement) -> Norfolk ‘protective service’ police officer Irwin …

          Not proven, but quite probable that at least the police officers knew each other from police functions, in the same way that e.g. scientists working in the same research area will know each other informally from conferences.

          And on top of that the ‘establishment’ of vice chancellors, former vice chancellors and top university administrators. Talks over official lunch or dinner – and they later know whom to ask for help.
          Informally, naturally. No paper trail as to who suggested the hiring of Wallis.

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

          Counter Terrorism Intelligence Officer Irwin took down all my particulars: name, home address, telephone number, email address… He then added my particulars to their database.

          Its interesting that in the modern day United Kingdom, participating in the Freedom of Information process gets equated by the authorities to the “most serious crimes and the potential threats from which the public must be protected”. By do nothing other than participating in FOIA, I now find myself on a terrorist list — a list that I am sure the UK authorities share with my home county (the US).

          I hope the current scandal that is gripping the UK might lead to a bit of introspection by its citizens regarding the nature of modern democracy in the UK. The whole handling of Climategate is a symptom of a much larger disease.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

          what would be your attitude if Counter Terrorism Officer Irwin, for example, released your name, occupation and hometown to a UK national newspaper, which then published this information?

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

          Yeah, I was shocked when I saw private information being leaked like that. Frankly, I think you have a cause of action under PII laws, but I know that’s not your style. You have really put yourself out there in ways that I think most people don’t really think about. Imagine — all of this over what is, at its core, an academic dispute. Those who advocate for academic freedom might want to also do a little bit of introspection.

        • JCM
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

          Best to ask the plod to send a list of questions, why he is asking the questions, the possible consequences for not co-operating, the name of his immediate superior officer and then decide if you want to answer the questions.
          I doubt I would have told him anything and then I would have sat back and waited to see if he wanted to visit me(A long and unproductive trip for him)

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

          Too late, all this happened back in early 2010.

        • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

          The police did not contact me, although I had an active FOI request under way at the time of Climategate, so an FOI request did not generate an automatic enquiry.

        • mpaul
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

          My belief is that those of us who FOIAed the confidentiality agreements were the ones who were interviewed by the police.

          Was your FOIA related to the confidentiality agreements?

        • TerryMN
          Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

          Not entirely – I made one of the confidentiality agreement FOI requests, but wasn’t contacted/questioned, FWIW.

  41. stephan
    Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 8:09 AM | Permalink

    As I gather Murdoch’s wife is 100% AGW. The only item that is Murdoch’s, and is not pro AGW is FOX TV. That’s it. The UEA saga re Wallis is trying to protect them(UEA) against skeptics etc… acting on behalf of News Corp/police whatever. Poor ol Joe does not realize the pandoras box he is about to open.

    • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

      A summary that strikes me as partly incoherent, partly wrong. The Wall Street Journal has been one of the most balanced voices on AGW in the mainstream media for many years in my estimation and has been the newspaper that Rupert Murdoch is most involved in personally since he relocated to New York. The Times in London has had a mixed record. It was a journalist for the Sunday Times, Richard Girling, who recorded (and maybe prompted) the comment by Phil Jones comparing himself with David Kelly on 7th February 2010, in an article entitled “The leak was bad. Then came the death threats”.

      Rather than trying to assess News Corp as a global entity it’s important I think to look clearly at the rot at the NOTW and ask how far it spread within News International (the UK newspaper arm of News Corp). Within that more limited scope Andy Coulson and Neil Wallis emerge as key players and the relationship between Wallis and Scotland Yard, including John Yates, seems to be of the utmost importance.

      There are loads of questions, including this: what role if any did Wallis have in introducing the “David Kelly” and “death threat” memes into the article by Richard Girling of his old employers News International in Feb 10?

  42. Kim G
    Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    Have you seen this? At UEA they are “exploring ways of making data and the code used for computer assisted analysis more openly available…”

    “Climate scientists at the University of East Anglia will soon be demonstrating new methods of providing open access to research data – thanks to a major new investment from JISC to improve the way UK university researchers manage their data.”


    • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

      They probably spent a ton of money to create a wonky tool worse than the R code for accessing climate data that Mosher put together in his spare time (just guessing, based on their track record).

      • Kim G
        Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

        It is obviously something they need to do in order to maintain any level of credibility. If they actually do it, I will directly credit Steve for his persistence!

  43. mpaul
    Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    Hey, where’s “Nick Stokes” been? Ever since the OO story broke, we haven’t seen hide not hair of him. “Nick” can always be relied upon to fire shots back at us with his skilled communication style, I’m just surprised to not see him on this thread. Must be on vacation.

    • Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

      I read it not as vacation – there are others that have also chipped in to give the ‘other side’ – but profound embarrassment. In the culture wars the angelic climate scientists needed no help from a tabloid hack from the hated Murdoch stable, with questionable links with Scotland Yard and David Cameron to boot. It’s profoundly embarrassing. Who wants to even think about it, let alone defend it. That’s surely why nobody in the MSM in the UK has dared to broach the subject, despite Wallis being a hot item in the news this week. But I’ve said from the start that I don’t think this situation will last. First, we’ll find out the extend of Wallis’s involvement in illegal phone hacking, pinging and blagging for NI. And then someone will refer back to these two pages and ask some decent questions about what on earth UEA was playing at in late 2009 and 2010.

  44. Don Keiller
    Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    If I wanted to “improve my image” the last person I would want to employ would be a man known as the “Wolfman” who also worked for the
    “News of the Screws” (as the NotW was generally known in the UK).

    You couldn’t make it up.

  45. Posted Jul 29, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    Here’s a personal perspective on the last seven days of Hackgate, especially for those outside the UK, not least because I think it again provides a fascinating compare and contrast with Climategate and its official aftermath.

    A week ago, in my post of Jul 22 09:54 and its follow-up, I made these points about the Culture Select Committee hearing three days before:

    …for me, almost the best moment of the grilling of the two Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks on Tuesday was when Louise Mensch cited Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s assertion – at another select committee on Monday – that he had never sanctioned a story based on hacking or blagging. She called this “risible”. That’s the way I saw it too … Mensch’s final questions, touching on the widespread nature of illegal practices in UK newspapers, begin around 2:28:00 … She’s had criticism for using parliamentary priviledge in this way – as for me, I’d vote for her any day.

    There are only three select committee hearings that I’ve ever been seriously plugged into in my life so far: the grilling of David Kelly on 15th July 2003, two days before he was found dead in the Oxfordshire countryside; the Climategate hearing including Phil Jones on 1st March 2010; and the session with Rupert and James Murdoch, then Rebekah Brooks on 19th July 2011.

    I was deeply unimpressed by the questioning of the earlier two committees (histrionic grandstanding in one, wetness in the other) but thought from the very start ten days ago that John Whittingdale’s culture committee was much more like it. The three key, really informed and incisive questioners were Whittingdale himself, Tom Watson and Louise Mensch, and it seemed clear that the two Tories and the Labour man (Watson) had coordinated their lines of attack particularly well, so that nobody got off the hook. This careful approach has led to a number of the underlings in the hacking story disputing the version of events given by James Murdoch. But whereas Tom Watson wanted as a consequence to recall the News International executive to the committee right away, Whittingdale has I think wisely counselled patience. You can read all about that and the other hot news on various BBC pages, with this one today a good starting point with helpful links.

    It was the public outrage at the revelation of the hacking of murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002 that kicked off Hackgate earlier this month. Yesterday the Guardian reported, if anything, even more damaging hacking by NOTW’s private investigator Glenn Mulcaire: of the phone of Sara Payne, mother of eight-year-old Sarah Payne who was murdered in the summer of 2000. It’s easy enough to google the names and find out why that’s such a PR disaster for News International at every level. As it should be.

    But meanwhile, as I indicated a week ago, but more so since, Louise Mensch has come under pressure because of the line she took at the end of the session with Murdoch father and son. And I think this is where the parallels with Climategate and Climate Science get particularly interesting.

    In the Climategate case we needed, to put it at its simplest, two things. Decent, forensic questioning of Jones that got to the bottom of his wrongdoing. And drawing the right conclusions from that particular case to the more general problems with climate science, for which there was plenty of evidence in the Climategate emails – but not of course, ever, enough.

    In the Culture Select Committee they did I think a much better job in both regards. In the particulars with the Murdochs and Brooks. And then in allowing Louise Mensch at the very end to make the key claim that many other UK newspapers had been up to the same tricks. The order mattered. Mensch came on after the detailed damage had been done, to James Murdoch in particular. Having dealt well with the particular, it was time for someone on the Committee to get real and make the more general point, all under parliamentary priviledge, so nobody could sue. Well done all.

    But Mensch got one detail wrong, about Piers Morgan, the CNN superstar (as he is these days, so we are told back in the little country). She’s now apologised for that. But look up Roy Greenslade’s commentary in the Guardian two days ago. There are many legitimate, unanswered questions from Morgan’s own past statements. And there have predictably been other tabloid attempts to besmirch Mensch, using reports of drug-taking in her twenties. The cockles of my own heart were warmed earlier by how the man from the opposite party leapt to her defence on that:

    A Labour member of the committee, West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson, said: “It seems that someone has been digging into the youth of Louise Mensch. I admire her for what she has done. The fact that they would go back 20 years and try to dig up into her private life is frankly disgusting.”

    The teamwork implied throughout again puts all the Climategate efforts in the darkest shade.

    I had a hunch that the points about Morgan were not as well-judged as Mensch’s classic put-down of Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail. And that indeed has not led to complaint, that I know of. I happen to believe that what Mensch was driving at was completely right and needed to be said. All of Fleet Street were up to their necks in this stuff. Murdoch should not be made a scapegoat for all, any more than Phil Jones.

    I won’t make a habit of this on Climate Audit every Friday till 2015, when it’s currently estimated the judicial inquiry into Hackgate will be completed. But those little points had been weighing on my mind.

    • Posted Aug 25, 2011 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

      The latest on Louise Mensch:

      A 61-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of making threats to the Conservative MP Louise Mensch via email and social networking sites.

      The threats have also been made against her three children. Her reaction: “I have contacted the police via the House of Commons and the email is with them now. I don’t bully easily, kids. Or in fact at all.”

  46. Posted Jul 29, 2011 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    Am I beginning to see a pattern here. NoTW – Wallis – Andy Coulson – Government. met police – Wallis – CRU- Murdoch – NoTW.

    If all this lot,in bed together, how the hell are we very going to know the truth?

  47. thisisnotgoodtogo
    Posted Aug 2, 2011 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    When kind of timeline is there, regarding the discovery – when were police first notified of the climategate “hack”, and by whom were they notified ?

    Steve: you’ll have to ask the U of East Anglia, It doesn’t seem to have been until a few days had passed.

    • Posted Aug 3, 2011 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

      Yeah, adapting Chamberlain, East Anglia is a far-away place of which we know very little. But further up the east coast there’s now more police trouble, with the Chief Constable of Cleveland (North Yorkshire and County Durham area) and his deputy arrested for corruption. I think it all helps.

  48. oneuniverse
    Posted Nov 22, 2012 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Neil Wallis is scheduled to be on the panel of BBC1’s “Question Time” next Thursday (29th November). I don’t suppose he’ll be asked about UEA and Climategate, though.

    • Posted Nov 22, 2012 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

      Where is it being broadcast from? One of us should at least try.

      • Posted Nov 22, 2012 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

        Ah, Swansea. Who’s nearest?

      • oneuniverse
        Posted Nov 24, 2012 at 7:27 PM | Permalink

        I’m certain you’re right, although Climategate may be too obscure a subject (for QT) to be selected by QT’s producers.

        Wallis isn’t listed as a panel member on the BBC’s website, but he was announced as such by David Dimbleby at the end of last week’s show.

        • Posted Nov 26, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

          Sorry, only just seen this. If Wallis is involved that’s going to be because of Lord Levenson releasing his report on phone hacking and the press tomorrow. He seems to have become the go-to person arguing for full freedom of the press – which isn’t just ironic, it’s a disaster in my book. It’s a bit like selecting Harold Shipman to argue the case for the confidentiality of patient records in primary care. A very important point of principle can be ruined by choosing a morally tainted spokesman for it. Perhaps if I hadn’t lived in the UK the last 55 years I’d take a more sanguine view of such a choice by our state broadcaster, given its obvious hostility to many parts of the free press that take a radically different line from it, including on climate issues.

          I agree it’s a long shot for this Thursday but I think someone should have a go. Though I’m not planning to take the train to south Wales myself.

        • oneuniverse
          Posted Nov 26, 2012 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

          He seems to have become the go-to person arguing for full freedom of the press – which isn’t just ironic, it’s a disaster in my book.

          Thank you, I hadn’t realised that the BBC had asked Wallis to appear on 8th Nov.’s Daily Politics show to argue against state regulation of the press. I agree, he was a curiously poor and compromised choice to represent the free press in the debate.

        • Posted Nov 28, 2012 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

          I’ve also seen him talking on the subject on Newsnight and, I think, heard him on BBC Radio.

        • Posted Nov 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

          Wallis’s appearance tonight will surely be made more interesting by Lord Leveson’s specific criticism of John Yates, more than any other police officer:

          Police blunders meant that the inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World was not reopened for years, the Leveson Inquiry found.

          Between 2006 and 2010 Scotland Yard adopted a “defensive mindset” when it should have been taking accusations of criminal wrongdoing seriously, it said.

          In particular Lord Leveson found that Assistant Commissioner John Yates should have stood aside and asked another officer to review the original inquiry because of his friendship with the News of the World’s deputy editor, Neil Wallis.

          I can’t help looking forward to how David Dimbleby handles that. But it will be outrageous if Wallis is the only person to represent the case against statutory regulation, rather than Fraser Nelson of The Spectator or other senior editors untainted by the scandals that led to Leveson in the first place.

        • Posted Nov 29, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

          Nelson’s leader yesterday, as the Leveson report was being delivered to David Cameron, was The Spectator won’t be part of a state licensed media. It was immediately cited with approval on Twitter by journalists as different as Nick Cohen on the left and James Delingpole on the libertarian wherever.

          The first comment on the Independent piece I quoted from above, from the pseudonymous bustop (it’s amazing from where one can comment on the net these days!), also I think deserves repetition:

          I do not believe it is within Leveson’s remit to come to any conclusion about the propriety of a specific interaction between the Met and News International. He did not carry out any specific investigation of these interactions beyond the extent to which they impacted his wider report. Similarly with Jeremy Hunt. He is not in any position to exonerate, or otherwise, people like Hunt and Yates because he did not hear all of the evidence. Indeed he refused to call certain people who would be regarded as key witnesses. Neither did he seek wider evidence, other than that provided to him.

          These matters should remain the subject of a police investigation and Leveson’s opinions are frankly irrelevant.

          A classic technique of the UK cover-up there, er, I mean official inquiry. The worst recent case being Lord Hutton proclaiming that David Kelly has committed suicide and bypassing the inquest that would have looked in detail at the evidence or otherwise for that. We have similar issues with the much-cited ‘findings’ of the Climategate inquiries, reported or otherwise.

        • Posted Nov 30, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

          Question Time wasn’t too bad in the end, not least because Simon Jenkins, a distinguished former editor of The Times, was on the panel with Wallis. There was no mention of John Yates, let alone of the old News of The World man’s PR work for UEA after Climategate, but the discussion of Leveson was hard-hitting and I thought pretty even-handed.

6 Trackbacks

  1. By DEMO | Lesvosnews.net on Jul 20, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    […] East Anglia’s Toxic Reputation Manager […]

  2. […] original disclosure. The most bizarre to date is the fact that the University of East Anglia hired Neil Wallis of Outside Organization to handle the fall out from the emails leaked from the Climatic Research […]

  3. By Hard Data Every Time, Part I | contracelsum on Aug 19, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    […] News-of-the-World big-shots to manage its defensive PR campaign.  See the latest revelations from Climate Audit on the connection.  Ex-Murdoch editors were hired to stage manage the “investigations” […]

  4. […] the November 2009 leak the University of East Anglia hired Neil Wallis of Outside Organization to handle the fall out. University spokesperson Trevor Davies said it was a […]

  5. […] the November 2009 leak the University of East Anglia hired Neil Wallis of Outside Organization to handle the fall out. University spokesperson Trevor Davies said it was a […]

  6. […] a bind because they’re starting point is IPCC science. The University of East Anglia (UEA) hired Neil Wallis of Outside Organization to handle the fall out. Wallis, a former News of The World editor was later […]

%d bloggers like this: