Acton's blind eye
Jan 18, 2013
Bishop Hill in Climate: Acton, Climate: Briffa, Climate: CRU

Readers may recall that at the Science and Technology Committee hearings into Climategate, Professor Acton told MPs that when he had discovered that the Russell inquiry had failed to investigate the question of breaches of FOI legislation, he had instituted his own inquiry which had determined that Jones and Briffa had not in fact deleted emails subject to FOI.

This was widely assumed at the time to have been the standard mealy-mouthed UEA response, which neatly avoided addressing whether emails had been illegally withheld (as opposed to deleted). This supposition was strongly reinforced by the Climategate 2 emails which confirmed that Briffa and Jones had systematically hidden emails to prevent their disclosure under FOI.

These questions all came up again at the Information Tribunal on Tuesday, when Acton waxed lyrical about the written statements he had received from Jones and Briffa confirming that they had not deleted emails subject to FOI. These statements, he assured the Tribunal, had been signed in good old-fashioned blue ink. Unfortunately, he went on to explain, they had subsequently been lost.

David Holland had subsequently questioned Acton about the possibility that there had been concealment and Acton, if I recall correctly, had said that this had been ruled out too.

Today, however, UEA's legal team wrote to the Tribunal to say that they have uncovered a draft of the statements - no signatures, but perhaps more importantly, no mention of withholding emails without deleting them.

Everybody, but everybody knows that staff at UEA were systematically withholding emails subject to FOI. Acton knew, or if he didn't, he knows now. Which then raises the awkward question of why nobody at UEA has lost their job.

Is criminal behaviour no bar to advancement at UEA? It would appear that way.

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