This is a guest post by Don Keiller.
At the end of the last episode the forces of “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing” consensus appeared to have chalked up another victory.
Well as UEA have previously discovered, to their cost, I can be very persistent.
I felt another court battle coming on.
Dear Mr. YYYYYY, I note the recent correspondence you sent from UEA and HP Security Services, together with the ICO's opinion that the Tribunal's Substituted Decision Notice has now been satisfied. However I remain unconvinced that this is the case.
In particular the letter sent by Mr. XXXXXX (Senior Forensic Consultant, Digital Investigation Services) states that "In being asked to search for "@gatech.edu" or "@eas.gatech.edu" I opted, by way of efficiency, to search for the term "gatech.edu". This will have identified any emails containing this sequence of characters. From these results, I then further filtered this subset of data to display only emails sent by Professor Phil Jones (email@example.com). As you correctly state in your letter, no emails were located."
Firstly Mr. XXXXXX is in error when he states that he was "asked to search for "@gatech.edu" or "@eas.gatech.edu".
In fact, as the Black Grouse Report plainly states, "Criteria set out by Mr. Brian Summers indicated that the search was to identify:
…address containing "@gatech.edu". If Mr XXXXX cannot even name the basic search parameters correctly, what confidence can I have in the results of such a search?
The very fact that no emails were located could simply mean that the search parameter was ineffective. For this argument to be at all convincing, I would wish to see examples of any emails that the search actually found, to "@eas.gatech.edu", before "filtering" for emails sent by Professor Phil Jones.
After all absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.
In this connection it is valuable to consider UEA's own admission, in the Tribunal Open Bundle Evidence, namely that "UEA have confirmed that the data referred to in the second part of the request was transmitted by Professor Jones of CRU, by email, to Georgia Tech in the USA. The University has also confirmed that there was a cover email sent with the data."
The second part of the request is, of course, the email that is the subject of the search. How can UEA confirm that such an email was sent then, apparently, be unable to find it?
Here it is again instructive to return to the findings of the Muir Russell report (para. 22), where it was noted that “Internet communications for CRU were routed over the university network and through the University firewall. Furthermore the IT Manager introduced automated backup to a server held securely within the Central IS machine room”.
Thus all CRU emails were automatically backed up on the server which is the subject of this search.
Hence the failure of the search directly contradicts the findings of the Muir Russell Report (paras. 28 and 23), which “found the presence of extensive and long duration backups of e-mail and other materials”.
Secondly, it is apparent that UEA has instructed HP Services to search in a way that I believe is designed to thwart the wishes of the Tribunal, namely "establishing the existence of and recovering the email sent by Prof Jones to Georgia Tech on or about 15 January 2009".
Thus it is illogical for UEA not to stipulate a specific date for the search and neither to stipulate the names to whom the email in question were sent.
As I have stated previously, the exact date and persons to whom the email was sent is well known to UEA and has been for some time.
Thus the email below, sent by Professor Jones, directly refers to it.
From: Phil Jones [mailto:???@uea.ac.uk]
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 3:16 PM
To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB); Mcgarvie Michael Mr (ACAD)
Cc: Osborn Timothy Dr (ENV)
Subject: Re: FW: Environmental Information Regulations [FOI_09-44; EIR_09-03]
I sent some of the station data to a Jun Jian at Georgia Tech on 15 Jan 2009.
I see now that Peter Webster was a recipient on the email. I also see from looking at Climate Audit that this request results from Peter saying on CA that he's not had any difficulty getting data from CRU (see what he said below on June 24).
I regard this as a personal email between me and this group at Georgia Tech. So, McIntyre has no right to request the data in a personal email.
I only sent a small part of the dataset anyway. They asked for a specific set and said what they were going to do with the data.
Why then was this precise information, namely “15 Jan 2009”, “Peter Webster” and “Jun Jian” not used?
Please also note the date when this email was sent, June 26, 2009. At this point the email in question was still on Professor Jones PC and had undoubtedly passed through the CRU server.
Accordingly if this email cannot be found and therefore no longer exists, then it must have been deliberately deleted from both Professor Jones' PC and the backup server, at some later date, for the specific purpose of frustrating the legitimate FOI/EIR request by Mr. S. McIntyre. As such this is an offence under Section 77(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, hence I expect that the ICO will censure UEA accordingly.
Finally it should be apparent from reading this reply, that I am still not at all satisfied by the way UEA has conducted the search for the email in question, nor the ICO's decision. Accordingly I now request that you send me all relevant information regarding the procedure for a Judicial Review of this decision.
Clearly the threat of judical review concentrated minds because just one week later I received an unexpectedly conciliatory email.
Whilst the Commissioner notes your comments, the Commissioner remains of the view that the UEA has complied with the Tribunal’s substituted decision notice of 18 January 2012.
However, notwithstanding the Commissioner’s view, he nevertheless contacted the UEA’s solicitors for further comment.
The UEA has advised the Commissioner that it would be willing, as a pragmatic and exceptional gesture, to undertake as a final measure the following search of certain contents of the CRU backup server (notwithstanding that it is not part of the University's live information system) in order to further seek to address your outstanding concerns. The Commissioner understands from the University that the offer below is made without prejudice to the University's position that it has complied fully with the requirements of the Tribunal through the work undertaken on its behalf by the independent contractor, HP Security Services.
The University has confirmed to the Commissioner that it would be willing, should you confirm that you wish the University to do so, to undertake a search of the nearest backup taken after 15 January 2009 for each of the four computers owned by Professor Jones. For each machine’s backup the mailbox will be searched to ascertain whether it contains any email sent (or copied) by Professor Jones to either Peter Webster or Jun Jian at Georgia Tech. The University's intention is to search the mailbox for the string “gatech”. This search will, it believes, identify any emails sent to Georgia Tech email addresses or indeed referencing Georgia Tech email addresses on 15 January 2009
I would be grateful if you would confirm whether you wish the University to undertake this step by 31 August 2012.
Is the Pope catholic?
However not wanting to appear too happy, I sent the following reply.
Dear Mr. YYYYY, thank you for your consideration of my comments of 15th August.
Whilst I remain unconvinced that a proper search of the back-up server was executed, I believe that the offer made by UEA to
"to undertake a search of the nearest backup taken after 15 January 2009 for each of the four computers owned by Professor Jones. For each machine’s backup the mailbox will be searched to ascertain whether it contains any email sent (or copied) by Professor Jones to either Peter Webster or Jun Jian at Georgia Tech. The University's intention is to search the mailbox for the string “gatech”. This search will, it believes, identify any emails sent to Georgia Tech email addresses or indeed referencing Georgia Tech email addresses on 15 January 2009".
is a reasonable and pragmatic offer that I would be willing to accept, with 2 minor amendments:
1) That the search includes those emails sent on the 15th January, 2009.
2) That the total number of emails found using the string search "gatech", irrespective of whether they were sent (or copied) by Professor Jones to either Peter Webster, or Jun Jian at Georgia Tech is reported. This would act as a "positive control" demonstrating that the string "gatech" can, in fact, identify emails sent to Georgia Tech.
The Commissioner's reply was immediate and positive.
I note that you accept the offer of the further search.
I further note the 2 minor amendments suggested.
It’s amazing what the prospect of a legal battle with “Big Oil” can do for one’s attitude problems. A further email from the Commissioner shortly followed.
The University has confirmed to the Commissioner that in light of the significant expenditure incurred thus far in securing the services of an independent contractor in order to comply with the substituted decision notice of 18 January 2012, it does not propose to undertake a search for emails sent on any date other than 15 January 2009, or to engage now an independent contractor to undertake those searches.
In respect of your second proposed amendment, the University is willing to confirm the number of emails located using the "gatech" search string sent on 15 January 2009, although it follows from the comments above that the search is not intended to locate emails sent on any other date.
The Commissioner is of the view that the proposal is reasonable in the circumstances.
So UEA proposed to conduct its own search!
Then “a miracle happened”.
I write further to the above matter and, further to my email of 12 September, I can inform you that I have now received confirmation from the University’s solicitors that the University has now concluded its search of the backup server.
As part of that search, the University has located an email sent on 15 January 2009 from Professor Jones to Jun Jian. The University confirms that it is content for a copy of that email (and the rest of the email chain) to be provided to you. A copy of the email chain is attached.
The Commissioner is content that this now concludes matters in relation to your request and the appeal.
There, that wasn’t too difficult, was it?
And the deep dark secrets that UEA had originally rejected my FOI request back in September 2009 using the following terms?
In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice, and I am not obliged to supply this information and the reasons for exemption are as stated below:
Reg. 12(4)(a) – Information not held
Some of the requested information is not held by the University
Reg. 12(4)(b) – Request is manifestly unreasonable
Information is available elsewhere
Reg. 12(5)(a) – Adverse effect on international relations
Release would damage relations with scientists & institutions from other nations
Reg. 12(5)(f) – Adverse effect on the person providing information
Information is covered by a confidentiality agreement
Well judge for yourself the nature of the dark conspiracy:
Dear Dr. Phil Jones,
This is Dr. Jun Jian working in Dr. Peter Webster’s group, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. I am interested in the below product info found at web (XXXX).
We are going to do analysis on surface temperature trend in tropical oceans. So I want to know if it is possible to get the station ground temperature record observed in central Pacific islands from 1930-1950. Where can we get a data content description? The location of our record is small so we want to know in detail.
Thanks and best regards.
(Climate Change data ($950 or 595 Pounds Sterling) Monthly 5-degree surface temperature anomaly grids 1894-1990, pressure grids 1873-1990, Monthly World temperature grids at about 3500 stations and precipitation data at about 6500 stations.
Retrieval and mapping software include, available for various systems.
Contact Dr. Phil Jones, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
The Chadwyck-Healey product is something I did with them about 15 years ago. I have not updated anything in it since then. I did not realise that they were still marketing it!
If you send me the co-ordinates of the area of tropical ocean (or possibly part of the Pacific, or one island), I can see if we can send you the station temperature data for the island(s) within the domain.
These would be monthly average temperatures, calculated by whatever way the country uses to calculate mean temperatures. Some will be based on max and min, some on the basis of obs. at fixed hours each day.
So there we have it. CRU did possess raw, unhomogenised, non “value-added” data, despite all protestations to the contrary. That is the dirty secret that they have spent £10s of thousands and 3 years trying to conceal.
I wonder if they still do?