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« The Hand emails | Main | Deepak Lal on consensus »
Tuesday
Jun222010

+++Behind the scenes at the Oxburgh inquiry+++

Slowly, but surely, the curtain is being lifted on Lord Oxburgh's inquiry into the science of CRU. Today I received a response to my FoI request for the emails of Sir Brian Hoskins and Professor David Hand (both of Imperial College, London) related to the Oxburgh inquiry. They are going to make a bit of a splash I think.

The emails can be downloaded here. There's a file for each man's correspondence and another for the attachments to Hand's emails. There's a lot of administrative stuff, but there is much of interest and some that made me laugh out loud.

I particularly liked the bit Oliver Morton of the Economist asks Oxburgh who chose the papers for the inquiry. Oxburgh replies:

Thanks for your message - the answer is that I don't know! What I received was a list from the university which I understand was chosen by the Royal Society The contact with the RS was I believe through [redacted - probably Martin Rees] but I don't know who he consulted. [Name redacted], when I asked him, agreed that the original sample was fair.

 A summary of the Hand emails is here. The Hoskins emails are here. Just the attachments to do.

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Reader Comments (13)

Put a request in for Rees's emails

[BH adds: RS is not subject to FoI]

Jun 22, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick

"I don't know". Fella, you don't even know what you don't know.
=================

Jun 22, 2010 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Interesting that Hand said he read "The Hockey Stick Illusion". Yet Mann's version of their discussions is that Hand agreed that Mann's use of PCA "did not matter"?

On the other hand, it seems that their take on it had always been to reach a conclusion favorable to CRU, unless they had found evidence of truly atrocious malpractice rather than statistical incompetence (which is at least hinted at).

[snip - venting]

Jun 22, 2010 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

Your Eminence—beautiful work!

Jun 22, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

It's difficult to reconcile Oxburgh's response to Morton with the email from Davies revealed on Climate Audit on 10 June:

Dear Martin and Brian,

The UEA Press Office advises us that the Panel and UEA will come under enormous pressure for details of the publications to be assessed when we announce the membership of the Panel (probably Thursday).

Initially we did not wish to do this but we have now been persuaded this is probably a good idea and it may, indeed, deflect other disruptive efforts by some in the media/blogosphere. Ron is comfortable with this, but is keen that we can say that it was constructed in consultation with the Royal Society.

I did send you this list earlier, which I attach again here.[List obtained] They represent the core body of CRU work around which most of the assertions have been flying. They are also the publications which featured heavily in our submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry, and in our answers to the Muir Russell Review’s questions.

I would be very grateful if you would be prepared to allow us to use a form of words along the lines: “the publications were chosen in consultation with The Royal Society”.

Best Wishes
Trevor

This email began the 20 minute exchange of emails between Davies, Rees and Hoskins in which they agreed (colluded would seem to be the appropriate word) to represent the list of papers - already selected by UEA - as having been "chosen in consultation with the Royal Society". If Oxburgh was "keen that we can say that it was constructed in consultation with the Royal Society", how can he later claim that he understood the list "was chosen by the Royal Society"? To be blunt, this stinks.

Another obvious question: IF Oxburgh really did not know where the list of papers came from, why didn't he ask?

Jun 22, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Wow. well done. Lots of interesting stuff here.
Oxburgh says
“There is clearly a high level of stress that has been generated by aggressive and abusive blogs…”
I wonder whose blogs he is referring to ?

Jun 22, 2010 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

It now seems that Oxburgh had the wool pulled over his eyes. Someone told him that the Royal Society selected the papers, and he took this at face value. It must be a stunning surprise for him to learn that Trevor Davies selected the papers and selected only those papers which contained none of the relevant controversies. Oxburgh should now demand that the review be revisited based on this new information -- I think that is the only way for him to regain his reputation. One wonders if Davies didn't also give him a redacted version of the emails.

Jun 22, 2010 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

It's rather curious that, from movies and literature, we get a picture of bumbling, supercilious British mandarins who may know absolutely nothing about anything themselves but implicitly trust the rest of the mandarinate and occasionally end up spun badly by someone, brighter than the rest but usually driven by some sort of ulterior motive.

Is dear Oxburgh one of the former, or one of the latter?

Jun 23, 2010 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

JEM
It's rather curious that, from movies and literature, we get a picture of bumbling, supercilious British mandarins who may know absolutely nothing about anything themselves but implicitly trust the rest of the mandarinate and occasionally end up spun badly by someone, brighter than the rest but usually driven by some sort of ulterior motive.

Besides "movies and literature" there is always the possibility, and in this case probability, that it is reality.

Nicely put, JEM. You do have a British way with words that I enjoy.

The sad fact is that it is not a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. If it were, we might enjoy "The Pirates of Kyoto."

Jun 23, 2010 at 3:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Bishop Hill

Is anyone likely to challenge the extent of the redactions of names in these emails? Much of the content is meaningless without knowing, rather than guessing, who is talking to or about who.

Jun 23, 2010 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

TonyN

No, I fully intend to challenge the redactions. It is clear to me that some relate to names of senior people. In other places they even seem to have redacted the names of reports!!

Jun 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Bishop Hill:

Good luck!

Jun 23, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

And while it is most interesting to ponder what was going on 'behind the scenes of the Oxburgh inquiry' - just what is going on behind the scenes with the Australian Prime Minister?

Jun 23, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

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