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Sir John's emails

A few weeks back, readers may remember, the Information Commissioner ruled that where public servants used private email accounts to conduct public business, their messages were still subject to FOI. With this in mind I decided to ask the Met Office for Sir John Houghton's emails relating to the IPCC's Third Assessment Report. I copied my message to Sir John's email address at the John Ray Initiative - the evangelical programme which now appears to occupy much of his time.

Attentive students of the Climategate emails will have noticed that Sir John appeared to use a private email address for all of his work on this most controversial of reports.

A week or so ago, the Met Office replied.

I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is not held by the Met Office. Sir John Houghton has also confirmed that he does not hold private e-mails relevant to your request.

So it appears that Sir John has deleted historic records relating to his work on the Third Assessment Report - work that was funded by the UK taxpayer.

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Reader Comments (62)

In engineering modelling if the real world results differ from the model then the model is assumed to be wrong. In Climate Modelling the opposite is assumed.

Jan 29, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

@Jan 29, 2012 at 3:28 PM | Palantir
"The imperative is to provide something that works, in a reasonable timeframe, at a reasonable cost. Not to produce the mythology that climate modelling has done."

When I was an undergraduate I remember one of my lecturers in Structural Engineering recounting the old saying "An Engineer is a man who can do for ten bob what any fool can do for five pounds."

Now, I am greatly ashamed to say, the New Civil Engineer (journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers) seems to have every week another piece about ruinable energy and the construction of more bird shredding whirligigs.

Thus the old saying is turned on its head. A "Post Modern" Engineer seems now to be a "person" who can do for a thousand Euros what any fool can do for fifty pounds.

Jan 29, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

"whether anyone here keeps their emails from 15 years ago?"

I do. I had an AOL account then, and simply saved the 'personal filing cabinet' when I switched ISP's. Funnily enough, my old AOL address still works, so they've probably got them, too.

Jan 29, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Tim C Jan 29, 2012 at 2:31 AM

Will this do?
"The Met Office holds ISO 9001-2000 and ISO 14001-2004...."

I remember a Dilbert cartoon.

The boss says: "I've just told our customer we have ISO 9000. What is ISO 9000?"

Dilbert: "I think it means we have a consistent process for everything we do".

Boss: "That's ok then. We always lie to our customers".

Jan 29, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Free the Houghton emails!

Free the Mann emails!

Free the Muir Russell emails!

Free the Climategate III emails!

Let 'em all fly high, proud and free around the interweb - carrying their message of freedom from climate tyranny on their tiny beating wings.

Just felt a twinge of sceptic activism - sorry.

Jan 29, 2012 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Hengist McStone

I don't quite get this. How can you be sure that he holds emails relating to AR3 ?

The same way you can be so certain that the polar caps are melting and raising the seas by tens of meters -- we ran a computer model.

Jan 29, 2012 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I'd like to ask whether anyone here keeps their emails from 15 years ago?

I suppose my old work-place does, given that it was a branch of law enforcement.

I sure don't have personal ones. I've changed provider twice and gmail name once since then.

At each change over I save text versions of particularly important files, but nothing more than a couple of years old each time. That includes e-mails sent while selling one house and buying another, and while obtaining employment.

Jan 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

An email sent is an email received.

An email copied is an email received somewhere else as well.

The only true deletion is for the email that never was.

Murphy's Law, for those with something to hide, pertains....

Jan 29, 2012 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Martin: "... had a look at the John Ray Initiative website... scary!!!... "

Ditto and ditto. Fawning articles about conferences reminiscent of garbage published when many churches got involved in a form of collective insanity known originally as "The Toronto Blessing" [poor Toronto!] in the 90s.

I have not given to TearFund or Christian Aid for more than a decade because they promote, at the donors' expense, the AGW nonsense.

Jan 29, 2012 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Edward Aloysius Murphy, Jr. (January 11, 1918 – July 17, 1990, in fact, was a seriously talented aerospace engineer. As, so it happens, is Burt Rutan, catapaulted into the news as a Wall Street Journal counter-consensual signatory, and now highlighted on WUWT with his impressive powerpoint demolition of CAGW.

Jan 29, 2012 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

a request to the folks here...why does any dereliction on the part of the Met Office have to result in a tough question to Richard Betts?

Are you trying to cut yourselves out of the debate by your intransigence? make me laugh

Jan 31, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Sir Fred got shredded - his knightood taken away. He made a bad judgement on buying AMRO - we now know by hindsight. But one presumes he and his Board believed at the time that the deal was good. Santander bought the South American chunk of AMRO - and have prospered from it.

When it became clear that the AMRO purchase had turned into a disaster - Sir Fred resigned.

I await the day when Sir John's knighthood is stripped from him. For all the false "science" he was a ringleader in promoting. At huge cost to the UK taxpayers. And for all the deaths now occurring among people who cannot afford fuel bills inflated by "greenshine".

Above all. for being a "denier" - for denying that the whole debate should be kept open.

Feb 2, 2012 at 2:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Anderson

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