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« Lobbywatch and the Fox | Main | Bob's boss in bizarre hoax »

Pursuit of Fox

When I wrote yesterday's piece about Fiona Fox, I expected little or no reaction, but a number of science commentators are now reporting the story, including Climate Audit, The Blackboard and the Guardian's Science Notes column.

Some of the commentators on CA were quite critical of Steve for discussing the story, even though he had made clear Fox's involvement in the Oxburgh report. To that we could also add her involvement in the recent Royal Society statement on climate change or the involvement of her various colleagues at the Science Media Centre in sceptic-bashing activities: Bob Ward's various smear campaigns need no introduction of course, but there were also the roles of Mike Granatt and (briefly) Philip Campbell in the Russell review.

I had been particularly interested in the press release issued by the SMC at the time of the Oxburgh report. The centre's choice of experts and their remarks on the inquiry were very interesting:

  • Bob Ward, who described Oxburgh's five page report "rigorous" and "thorough";
  • Sir Brian Hoskins, who had rubber-stamped UEA's selection of papers for the inquiry and then described the report as "thorough and fair"
  • Lord Rees, who had helped select a chairman with a conflict of interest and a biased panel and who had allowed the  Royal Society's name to be used to disguise the fact that UEA had chosen their own papers. Rees described the 5-page report as "thorough".
  • Myles Allen, a very vocal critic of climate sceptics, wisely made no comment on the thoroughness or otherwise of the report.

Given that the report was so embarrassingly short, for the SMC to put forward a series of people who were willing to describe the investigation as thorough suggests strongly that they are a propaganda outfit rather than a body that helps journalists get at the truth. One commenter at CA suggests that SMC is the "public relations arm of establishment science" in the UK. That may well be right and journalists might do well to consider that possibility when they are fed stories by Fiona Fox and her chums.


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Reader Comments (21)

Fiona Fox quote on CA post.

."...someone might want to suggest to Michael Mann that he decease ....."

I trust she means "desist".....

Oct 16, 2010 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Gotta love Latimer's comment on the graun piece:

Fiona's said sorry this week. Franny said sorry last week..the Eugenie not only said sorry but told us she'd had a baby too..

That's all all right then. Any serious lapse of judgment and taste by a meeja figure is to be forgotten so long as they sorry nicely.

I'll remember this correspondence for later.

I am fascinated by these fake "sorry, but..." non-apologies.

Franny was "sorry that I offended a small number of people while doing the right thing".

Then Eugenie was "a little bit sorry but here's some boilerplate about procedures and policies and I'm going to hide behind my baby now".

Oct 16, 2010 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!

Oct 16, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete

Remember that

Being green means never having to say sorry

Now where did I ?

Oct 16, 2010 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

This is in one of the comments on the Grauniad piece -
"Regardless of Fox' personal failings, I think the more serious issue is that this risks undermining the credibility of the SMC in the eyes of its opponents. We are already seeing this issue beginning to spread on some of the less pleasant anti-AGW blogs."

Which blogs can they mean? Bishop Hill? Climate Audit? Wattsupwiththat? Not sure I'd describe any of them as "less pleasant".

Oct 16, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

BBC Newswatch (23/04/2010)

“to have a sceptic in every interview is misleading the public about ‘climate science’” – Fiona Fox

“People like Richard Black and Roger Harrabin, fighting internally to say we DON’T have to have a sceptic every time we have a climate story.”

Fiona Fox: Chaired a report, for Lord Drayson, the science minister, looking into the quality of science reporting

The BBC:

“Fight the good fight for accuracy, in fact
On Climate change there has been a real change.. People like Richard Black and Roger Harrabin, fighting internally to say we DON’T have to have a sceptic every time we have a climate story.” Newswatch 23/04/2010

Richard Black and Roger Harrabin are key members of the BBC’s environment team, are they inadvertantly acting as the bbc man made ‘climate change’ newsmedia gatekeepers?

This is the same Richard Black at the BBC, that Michael Mann’s first thought was to call, when Paul Hudson – Whatever Happened to Global Warming, story appeared on the BBC website.. (month before ‘climategate).

Paul Hudson, received some emails, a month before ‘climategate’ (believed to be just the ones that refer to his article 6 or 7 emails)

Bellieve it or not the Science and Media Centre..

has Bob Ward on the Board (also of the Grantham Institute..

and in a delicious irony…

One of the funders of the SMC are…..


Oct 16, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I wonder if the BBC's Richard Black & Roger Harrabin really appreciated this from Fiona Fox:

BBC Newswatch(23/04/10)

Fiona Fox: "On Climate change there has been a real change.. People like Richard Black and Roger Harrabin [at the BBC] , fighting internally to say we DON’T have to have a sceptic every time we have a climate story.”

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


About Richard Black: I just posted a few comments on his latest piece at

The one slightly critical of Richard has been referred by the moderator for further consideration.

Did anyone ever manage to find our what Richard Black's qualifications are to be such an expert on the climate?

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Slightly tangential, but I heard Tom Feilden do a piece on R4 about biodiversity this morning, opining that its importance got swept away by the obsession with climate change. Er, just whose obsession with CC would that be, then..?!

Oct 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Is it not truly amazing how this infuriating, small bunch of zealots all have ties to each other!

Oct 16, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete Hayes

I have searched the UK MSN this a.m. for some article on the R.S. "Bad Math" story and guess what.......nothing! I guess the SMC forgot to mention it to reporters!

Oct 16, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete Hayes

I heard Tom Feilden do a piece on R4 about biodiversity this morning, opining that its importance got swept away by the obsession with climate change.

Two deductions here:
(1) Climate Change is sooooooo passe, sooooooo 2005
(2) Make way for one of the main contenders for the next scare story.

Oct 16, 2010 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

Ruth at CA quoted this from Bishop Hill last February

FF: Has the press done a disservice to the public in reporting Climategate? Has media a responsibility to make the public “think the right way”?

This was apparently her opening question, as chairperson. Now I know who she is, what her opinions are, and why she got into SMC.

The name-that-cannot-be-named, Climategate. Just as at Wikipedia.

Oct 16, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

The warmists like to pose incredulous questions concerning sceptical arguments, asking if it is all a hoax, how could such a hoax as global warming be perpetrated? How could a few people get together and con the MSM, and public opinion? It is so laughable, that it could not possibly be true!

Oh Dear, another warmist argument unravelling.......

Oct 16, 2010 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Mike Granatt and/or his employee Kate Moffat, both of Luther Pendargon public relations, attended every Muir Russell meeting. I've seen a comment by Atomic Hairdryer that Luther Pendragon had been retained by UEA. Is there any evidence that Luther Pendragon had contracted with UEA as opposed to with the Muir Russell inquiry.

Oct 16, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Steve M
Bishop HIll blogpost "CCE Panel Prelaunch Minutes" has this comment, which might be of use.

Mar 2, 2010 at 6:51 PM | LN
Note of Actions from CRU Review Group Meeting (Teleconference), 4 February 2010,

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

to Steve M again

From this it looks as though it was Muir Russell...

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Al Gore on media attention for climate change sceptics

Oct 17, 2010 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterErik

Sorry, forgot to ad this:

In December 2007, HARDtalk travelled to Oslo to interview the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Al Gore and Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

In this clip, Al Gore criticises the media's reporting of climate change sceptics saying that they represent a tiny minority within the scientific community and should not be given any credibility.

Oct 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterErik

Did you know that the tea lady serving Oxburgh also served Russel and Jones. She went to the pub with someone who is a former member of the Communist party. This PROVES that all climate science is being run by the commies.
Just as "lord" Monkton says:

Perhaps the good "lord" will also debunk the moon landings next!!!!

Oct 18, 2010 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterthefordprefect

@Oct 18, 2010 at 1:07 PM | thefordprefect

Nice name for a troll.

And how reliable were Ford Prefects? How many do you see today?

Go play somewhere else.

Oct 18, 2010 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

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