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« Paul Dennis in the comments | Main | Spectator article now online »

A mention in the Guardian

The Guardian has a short piece by David Leigh et al on the police investigation into the Climategate emails.  Leigh has picked up on the comment left on this site by UEA's Paul Dennis, a climatologist who has a much less antagonistic approach to sceptics than his colleagues in CRU. Dennis had commented that he had been interviewed by police.

Here's the bit where I get a mention:

Dennis has now posted an account of his police interview at a British website run by a sceptic accountant, Andrew Montford. He told Montford's blog, called Bishop Hill: "They thought I might have some information on the basis that I had sent [Condon] a copy of a paper I had published on isotopes and climate at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula … and I had exchanged emails with Steve McIntyre over the leak/hack.

As you can see, they missed out the important bit, namely the words "and the author of a very excellent book on the Hockey Stick affair".

David Leigh interviewed me a couple of weeks back, and I was careful to cram him full of biscuits and the finest filter coffee that money can buy. And not a mention of the book, not a mention!

Chocolate biscuits next time, I think.


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  • Response
    There has just been a burst of speculation about whether a certain Paul Dennis leaked the Climategate files. In a comment on a posting at Bishop Hill, Dennis denies it. The police did talk to him. But that's all, he says. A while ago, in among the comments on this posting ...

Reader Comments (32)

We are all used to the idea that someone on the Guardian's staff might well be an ex-KGB man. But to learn that there's worse - that one of their staff won't even swap a wee bit of publicity for biscuits and coffee does come as a shock. The horror, the horror!

Feb 4, 2010 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

It seems to me that groupthink is now saying 'leaked' almost everytime.

If it was Dennis (nice name btw!) he should be applauded.

Feb 4, 2010 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

I spend a lot of time thinking about the brave soul that exercised all our freedoms on our behalf by releasing the emails.

How does he or she wish to be remembered?

I know that if this person came forward, there would likely be legal consequences on the other hand, this person would enjoy the recognition and a place in history for being one of the bravest freedom fighters of modern times.

I would hope that this person has chosen to retain their anonymity not out of fear but rather out of principle. That is that of an average person doing what is best in the name of freedom and honesty. The same principles as those of the anonymous Good Samaritan or the sacrifice of the Unknown Soldier.

Whoever you are. Thank you!

Feb 4, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

It is truly amazing that over 2 months have gone by and there is still not even a clue how the files were removed from CRU. About all that is known is that they were all on one server. Apparently there is no evidence of data being copied from the server or the server being hacked and nothing that can be traced on who tried to hack into the RC server, who sent the files to the reporter, who sent the messages to CA and other web sites and who uploaded the files to the Russian server. This is scary. Think of the possibilities.

Feb 4, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Andrew, could this guy have anything to do with the leaking?

Feb 4, 2010 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterHank

I am sure that David Leigh et al. were choking as they typed the story. Serves them right, to be served Humble Pie. Hard to swallow, I am told by Al Gore who is still in the ICU at hospital.

(I tracked him down, concerned that a Polar Bear did get him. It turns out that he had a heart attack when told he would have to give back his Oscar. That was a sick joke, almost as bad as his movie. But he never did have much of a sense of humor.)

Feb 4, 2010 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Out of curiosity, where is Denis's original account?

Feb 4, 2010 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterlucia

I am sure that David Leigh et al. were choking as they typed the story. Serves them right, to be served Humble Pie. Hard to swallow, I am told by Al Gore who is still in the ICU at hospital.

(I tracked him down, concerned that a Polar Bear did get him. It turns out that he had a heart attack when told he would have to give back his Oscar. That was a sick joke sent to him by Bill Clinton who is obviously jealous. The joke was, admittedly, almost as bad as his movie. But Al never did have much of a sense of humor.)

@ Bruce

Do you suppose that the National Domestic Extremism Team has figured out how to log on to the computer yet? Put them one, and I will explain:

Hey guys, try turning it on first. That is, plug it in. Then flip the "on" switch. Next log in.

What? You don't know how to log in?

Maybe Frank can explain. He should know that.

Who's Frank?

Well, guys, there is a limit. If you want, come out to California. I live near Tahoe and such. Maybe you can learn to ski instead. Just a thought. We could hang out -- and I need help with shoveling the snow on my driveway. Great exercise. Builds the biceps and all that.

(Nice to live in California, where Arnie has bigger problems than Climategate :)

Feb 4, 2010 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Lucia wrote: "Out of curiosity, where is Denis's original account?"

That's a good question!

Feb 4, 2010 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHank

I think you'll find my comment under 'Parsing the Police'....January 9th 2010. I was interviewed before Christmas principally because I had sent Jeff Condon a copy of my recent paper on isotopes and warming at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. I had also written to Steve McIntyre to ask if he had any knowledge of the purported (at the time) leak/hack. I was completely unaware of what had been released but being a curious kind of guy thought Steve might know. I think he did but clearly there were moves behind the scenes involving Steve Mosher, CTM, Antony and Steve that meant they were keeping their cards very close to their chest.

I have no idea how, who or why the files were released. The police were perfectly civil and indeed very interested in some of my science.

Feb 5, 2010 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Mr. Dennis, thank you for joining.

Do you think people will now accuse you of the leak and planning the release with aforementioned skeptic bloggers?

Feb 5, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterHank

Things are changing rapidly and in six months' time, the world may be sifting through the rival credentials of half a dozen eager claimants to be the genuine leaker.

Anyway, if this person is never identified, a grateful nation should have a bronze statue erected of the unknown leaker/leakeress with a wide-brimmed hat, pulled up collar and scarf to hide the features.

Feb 5, 2010 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Yer Grace

A wry smile when I read within the quote that you are a sceptic accountant!

I have begun reading your book and not since I read 'The Discovery of France' by Graham Robb have I been so delighted with the writing style and content in a nonfiction book. Your book helps my humanities oriented mind understand the maths/statistics involved in the method of tweaking raw data.

Doing an online search of three large booksellers in Australia, I note that your book is listed as currently unavailable for online purchase by Angus & Roberston at $30 AUD and Borders at $32AUD. My preferred store, Dymocks, does not list your book at all.

There is to be a general election here this year and climatechange and carbon are major policy issues of the Government and Opposition. Is there hope for a third print run for the southern hemisphere?

Feb 5, 2010 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

Yer Grace

I omitted to make it clear that 'here' means Australia.

Feb 5, 2010 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

Does anyone know the context of the police releasing the text of Paul Dennis' statement?

The university told David David Holland that the emails were under "embargo" by the police:

Regulation 12(5)(b) also applies to the data requested because the requested data is part of a larger set of data that is the subject of an ongoing police investigation. Such
information is now under an embargo by the investigating forces and any disclosure
would adversely affect the ability of that public authority to conduct the criminal

Have the police released any other emails? Is there anything unusual about this?

Feb 5, 2010 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

@Paul Dennis

Welcome as well, from sunny (?) California. (It's been VERY wet here of late!)

First of all, are you Harry? And if not, who is Harry and did he do it as my Clue board game claims with a computer and night after having a stiff drink (I assume Scotch, but Bourbon is acceptable) ? Your insights would be welcomed.

Failing that, do you have any clue who did do it? I really doubt that the FSB or Chinese had any interest, but I suspect we would all like to know who as we owe a profound debt of gratitude to that person.

In any case, welcome to our international "conspiracy" to save the world from the Fanbois.

The noise you hear is the National Domestic Extremism Team's black helicopter circling your house. Give them no mind, they do it to all of us and go away unless you make the mistake of speaking Arabic to them.

Honesty, Welcome. I do appreciate your efforts, as does everybody else. We all want to understand what the heck is really happening. And you are part of the answer.

[BH adds: "Harry" is Ian Harris, a CRU scientist]

Feb 5, 2010 at 2:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

With respect to all, I think the best outcome would be for no one to "rat out" the Great Liberator. To even speculate with names is inappropriate. To do so disrespects his or her Act and Legacy. That decision is solely up to them

Feb 5, 2010 at 4:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Yer Grace

An update on the availablity of your book in Australia.

While shopping today I called into the Angus & Roberston bookshop and found that although your book is not available in any of its stores, it can be ordered, which I did. A&R have placed an order for two copies for me with international book wholesaler, Gardners in the UK.

If other Australian readers place orders then maybe A&R will order copies for general sale in their shops located throughout Australia. Sure we are only a population of twenty odd million but as I posted earlier, climate change will be one of the main issues in this year's general election.

Feb 5, 2010 at 5:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

"a grateful nation should have a bronze statue erected of the unknown leaker/leakeress"

May he never be found out- and never forgot.
Mysteries have a very long shelf life. Fame is up in 15 minutes.

Feb 5, 2010 at 5:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave McK

Chocolate biscuits wouldn't be enough to promote your book : David Leigh has been so accustomed to caviar in the AGW gravy train.

Feb 5, 2010 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJean Demesure

They havent even approached us when they told my story and charles' story and they got some facts wrong. Whatever.

Dennis as far as I know had nothing to do with the release of the files.

Feb 5, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Mosher

It's very amusing to read the many conspiracy theories being put forward by readers on the many blogs and newspaper comment sites. So before we get too carried away let me set the facts straight:

1) I did not leak any files, data, emails or any other material. I have no idea how the files were released or who was behind it.

2) My first knowledge of anything untoward was a departmental email circular saying that emails and files were hacked from ENV (environmental sciences) and CRU (climatic research unit). My interest was piqued so I emailed Steve McIntyre to ask if he was aware of anything. Steve replied that he wasn't and that if he did find out anything he'd let me know. It was apparently this email that I sent that confirmed to both Steves (McIntyre and Mosher) that the leaked files were authentic.

3) The following day Steve emailed me a single url. It was to Jeff Id's site. I clicked the link but couldn't find anything and forgot about it.

4) Next day all hell breaks loose as the files have gone wild.

5) Now stepping back a few days. Prior to the leak, about a week or so, I had sent Jeff a paper I recently published in Geophysical Research Letters on a new study of the Gomez Glacier in Antarctica that had a 150 year isotope record that could be backed out as temperature. I thought Jeff might be interested in it as I knew he was working, along with others, on a new Antarctic paper in response to the Steig et al article in Nature that was published 12 months before.

6) In December the police saw me twice. I described the interview here under the blog 'Parsing the Police' on January 9th. The police were perfectly civil and we talked about many things including my research. I showed them round my labs and they came to coffee with me and my research group.

The police had copies of my email correspondence with Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id and a copy of my paper which kind of amused me. They said it was because I had sent the emails that they were interviewing me. I have absolutely no problems with that.

7) Two weeks ago David Leigh of the Guardian interviewed Andrew and Andrew mentioned my name and my contribution to the blog. Fred Pearce emailed me and I directed him to the university press office. Leigh followed Pearce's email with one of his own and I ignored it. He then emailed saying he was running the story and out of courtesy he wanted to chat about it. Our conversation was about palaoeclimate science, ice cores, speleothems, mass spectrometers and the hockey stick. I told Leigh about the email I had sent Steve McIntyre and the papaer I had sent to Jeff. There's no mysterious police leak here. I gave Leigh a copy of papaers I had written on ice core, speleothems and a nice little article on a freshwater snail, Lymnaea peregra.

8) That really is the end of the story. I reiterate that I have absolutely no knowledge as to who did what and their modus operandi. I'm as amused by all th theories, suggestions etc. and I am grateful that many have suggested that I deserve the nobel prize, or at the very least a knighthood but in all honesty I've done nothing to deserve either.

Feb 5, 2010 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

and I wish I could type properly......papers and not papaers!!

Feb 5, 2010 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Just to clarify something Paul Dennis said above, when the Guardian interviewed me I mentioned that someone from UEA had left a comment on the blog - Paul's name had escaped me at the time. David Leigh knew who I was referring to and volunteered the name himself.

Feb 5, 2010 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Hill

But is, or has Dr Dennis ever been a Communist? He stands accused of serious charges. Consorting with the enemy and sharing valuable state secrets. He has refused to join the officially approved consensus. He has questioned the interpretation of the law. Joseph McCarthy's ghost lives on at of all places, the supposedly liberal Guardian. David Leigh should be ashamed of his article.

Since climategate broke, it's been interesting to see other scientists and journalists calling for more openness and more debate, yet here Leigh seems to suggest Dr Leigh is somehow showing disloyalty by doing just that. Perhaps I shouldn't be suprised though given the Guardian's comment moderation policy.

Feb 5, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

One item in the Paul Dennis piece seems new to me

emails and files were hacked from ENV (environmental sciences) and CRU (climatic research unit)

Does this mean there were two distinct sets of data lifted? Or has the Fog Of War(ming) appeared as usual and the internal UEA email got slightly confused?

Feb 5, 2010 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTilde Guillemet

@ Paul Dennis:"....the nobel prize, or at the very least a knighthood but in all honesty I've done nothing to deserve either": that lack does not normally preclude award of those honours.

Feb 5, 2010 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Apropos of not much, I was discussing the later posts in this thread with my other half and the issue of not deserving Nobel Prizes arose. The issue of Barry Marshall, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, came up. He was a very good example of a contrarian and skeptic who challenged the orthodoxy. He quite rightly deserved an award. In fact he got a Nobel prize.

If he had relied on scientific consensus and the established view, there would have been no breakthrough.

So no. I do not agree that Nobel prizes are capriciously awarded. They generally have merit. Obama & Gore however: they are clearly political decisions that devalue the 'Nobel Brand' markedly.

People like Marshall are the good guys. Obama and Gore: hmmm..

Feb 5, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterTilde Guillemet

Tilde Guillemet:
I strongly recommend you to do some research on "Nobel Peace Prize" and "Brundtland" before commenting on the subject.

Unfortunately you share your ignorance on the subject with everybody in the English speaking world.

Feb 5, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

My Lord Bishop,
"not since I read 'The Discovery of France' by Graham Robb have I been so delighted ...": my golly, that puts you in the very finest company.

Feb 5, 2010 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

@ Atomic Hairdryer "But is, or has Dr Dennis ever been a Communist...Joseph McCarthy's ghost lives on...."

The trouble with this rather tired analogy is that Tail Gunner Joe was right about Communist infiltration of the US government as proved by, among other sources, the KGB files that were made available - briefly - after the fall of the Soviet regime. In thinking otherwise you are yourself falling for the Liberal obfuscation exemplified by the likes of the Guardian.

Feb 6, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterliamascorcaigh

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