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« Helmer wants answers | Main | Yeo must go »
Thursday
Aug162012

Wallis and the Today programme

At the suggestion of the Information Commissioner, UEA have unredacted part of the release they made last month of correspondence with the Outside Organisation. We now learn that Outside were involved in pressuring the BBC to change its story on the Climategate affair (click for full size).

This appears to relate to a correction that the Today programme issued in July 2010 - see here. I'm not sure what Roger Harrabin's involvement was.

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Reader Comments (20)

I wonder if Harrabin got a bung. That's how these tabloid types usually work.

Aug 16, 2012 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

Amazing that £20K of, I presume, public money was spent to influence a news story on publicly funded national radio in order to not influence future public funds adversely, for a publicly funded institution, and we wonder why the country is in so much debt.

The whole sad story of 'climategate' is a tale of moral corruption at the highest level and the fact that our political representatives, who have also had their noses in the trough, are more than willing to turn a blind eye to this just shows how the UK tax system is just a cash cow for those who are willing to exploit the system at all levels.

This very act is on a par if not worse than benefit fraud but because it involves those of notable reputation and could affect policy beneficial to the political will, it will fall outside of the will of legal jurisdiction simply because none of our representatives will stand up and say 'this is wrong'.

It's no wonder no one can be bothered to vote any more, there is no one available that has any respect of the population.

Aug 16, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

The City wants carbon trading hence it got the research and the government it paid for.

It was only common sense it paid for the cover up.

Aug 16, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

And the reason for the original redaction of this was what, exactly?

I was not aware that "sparing one's blushes" culd ever be considered a sufficient reason for redaction.

Aug 16, 2012 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Let's not be too hasty to condemn Roger Harrabin - see his latest article that is quite critical of the NASA Greenland ice melt press release.

The issue here is that UEA paid Outside Organisation, and in particular Neil Wallis, who was later arrested as part of the phone hacking scandal, £10k to lobby the BBC on their behalf.

Aug 16, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul
Dead link to the Harrabin article. Try this

... but visual signals like graphics can create powerful emotional reactions that sometimes prove hard to erase through verbal cues.
Harrabin makes a good, if self-evident, point here following on from saying that we do get the context eventually (Only 30 years; happens every 150 years; more or less dead on time) The big question is when is he going to accept that NASA knows full well that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and the "powerful emotional reaction" is exactly what they are aiming for — the more powerful in a way because they have (eventually) given the context which makes them more or less fireproof.

Aug 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Harrabin makes a good, if self-evident, point here following on from saying that we do get the context eventually (Only 30 years; happens every 150 years; more or less dead on time) The big question is when is he going to accept that NASA knows full well that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and the "powerful emotional reaction" is exactly what they are aiming for — the more powerful in a way because they have (eventually) given the context which makes them more or less fireproof.
Aug 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Mike Jackson

To me the big question is when are NASA GISS going to issue a clarification, and state that the 'big melt' in July lasted less than a day or so, was related to a very short term weather event, and temperatures soon dropped back down to well below zero across most of the ice sheet. This morning it was -29C at the Summit Station. The NPEO cameras at the North Pole are showing that the summer melt ponds have also started to re-freeze. I don't expect there will be any press releases about that either. Weather isn't climate except when it is warm or involves some ice melt...

Aug 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I agree with Paul about judging Roger. This doesn't make clear what his involvement was. What is clear is what Stephen Mitchell, Deputy Director & Head of News Programmes for the BBC, did. He wrote a long and cringing letter, well over eight months later, with this its central statement about something John Humphreys had said live on air:

The first thing to say is that the sentence : "The facts are that the emails were stolen and they revealed that some researchers in the university's Climatic Research Unit had been distorting the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be" is incorrect. For that I apologise wholeheartedly on behalf of the Today Programme.

and finishing up:

Once again my apologies to those at the University of East Anglia on behalf of the Today programme for what I believe was an isolated albeit significant lapse.

Well, there was one 'significant lapse' in what Humphrys said and that was to assume, without proper evidence, that the emails had been 'stolen'. This language, from the start, from pretty much every mainline journalist, based on the desperate initial party line from UEA (which Paul Dennis thinks may have come from genuine paranoia, if that's the right phrase), ruled out the search for a whistleblower, which would both have been a most interesting news angle to cover, and, perhaps more significantly, would have placed the person responsible in the category of hero rather than criminal, as would usually be the case for the BBC journalists in such cases.

But the rest of what Humphrys said is an extremely good one sentence summary of what the emails revealed. CRU "had been distorting the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be." That's exactly what the emails showed. The insiders were peddling a line publicly, through various underhand means, that they didn't believe privately. Well said Mr Humphrys, pity they made you grovel so much for it. But that's the truth for you.

And well done whoever arranged this detail to emerge the day that Steve McIntyre speaks at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in St James in London. Neil Wallis the fixer - but one thing he could not and can never fix is the concern for truth and the perseverance of this brilliant Canadian mining consultant and mathematician. Welcome to London Steve.

Aug 16, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Bishop Hill said:

I'm not sure what Roger Harrabin's involvement was.

Being on the receiving end of bog standard vested interest lobbying I would think. Wallis doing his job as a PR monkey to try and get CRU/UEA's message out in preference to any other interpretation.

There was an article by Harrabin in July 2010 that included a response from UEA at the bottom of it: Harrabin's Notes: Getting to the bottom of Climategate

Since this article was published, the University of East Anglia has told the BBC that it asked the Panel chaired by Lord Oxburgh to consider whether "data had been dishonestly selected, manipulated and/or presented to arrive at pre-determined conclusions that were not compatible with a fair interpretation of the original data". The university says it is not true that Professor Davies subsequently asked Lord Oxburgh to adopt a "narrower brief" of any kind.

Whether this was specifically related to Wallis's work I have no idea.

Aug 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

I must say the letter from the BBC to UEA was absolutely sickmakingly cringingly asre licking to the point of obscenity!!!! I cannot believe anybody could be more so cap doffing Kow-towingly apologetic in fear of getting their trousers taken down in public & given a jolly good thrashing from a parent! If this is what my dictatorially imposed Licence Fee is spent on then I would refuse to pay it, although I am not allowed to lest I am imprisoned for such treachery to the State! We all know what is official & what is said behind closed doors is two different things, that's why they hate the FOI Act & probably regert email communication! Any communication between people paid for by the public purse is of public concern. When will these slime realise, they are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem!

Aug 16, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

A thought occurs. In the event Neil Wallis is convicted of the phone hacking charges laid against him and imprisoned, will he have to change the name of his PR outfit to the Inside Organisation?

Aug 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyS

I have a great deal of respect for Mr Humphrys and would be interested in reading the inside story on this. Anyone know his independent email address rather than the general BBC Today program?

Perhaps he could enlighten us as to whether he knew about this fawning apology at the time! It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't.

Maybe he may even have a twitter account!

Aug 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I love the way they deal in such round figures. Presumably, nothing much gets done for less than £10,000.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Lord B

I doubt that the Gruffalo (Humphrys) has ever tweeted in his life!

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The take home message?

Crooks work together.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Aug 16, 2012 at 8:25 AM Lord Beaverbrook

The whole sad story of 'climategate' is a tale of moral corruption at the highest level and the fact that our political representatives, who have also had their noses in the trough, are more than willing to turn a blind eye to this just shows how the UK tax system is just a cash cow for those who are willing to exploit the system at all levels.


I imagine that, if FOIA ever pushes the nuclear button and reveals the password on the remaining zip file, this will appear a trivial incident by comparison.

Aug 16, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The BBC's audio record of the Today programme for 04/12/2009 can be found here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8394000/8394501.stm

There's now a transcript of all three Climategate-related segments here:
https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20091204_r4

Aug 16, 2012 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Far too early to jump on Harrabin in respect of this. However after the Jo Abbess 'edits for affections' affair he has form for caving in to pressure from the warmists and eco activists to change a story to their liking.

Aug 16, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAutonomous Mind

I'm surprised Humphrys didn't smell a rat when asked to issue such an apology, but perhaps he did and knows when he's beaten. Not sure which is more depressing.

Aug 16, 2012 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

o/t but when i saw this i figured there'd be no change on CAGW advocacy at the NYT:

15 Aug: Reuters: From BBC to the NYT: Mark Thompson named CEO of Times Co
"He's the man that turns up with his dust pan and brush when the party is over," said Emily Bell, a former Guardian news executive and current director of digital journalism at Columbia University, referring to Thompson's skills in dealing with organizations in turnaround.
The New York Times is one of the most prominent newspapers in the world and is considered a thought leader in the news business...
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/08/15/us-newyorktimes-thompson-idUKBRE87D10H20120815

"thought leader"?

Aug 17, 2012 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

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