Note: I felt Steve’s essay deserved the wider audience that WUWT could provide. Be sure to go to this thread at CA to post comments. – Anthony
Did Jones Delete Emails?
By Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit
It turns out that Muir Russell didn’t bother asking, since that would have exposed Jones to potential liability.
But in a surprising new turn of events, it seems that VC Acton sort-of did what Muir Russell was supposed to do – ask Jones whether he had deleted emails. The Guardian reports Acton’s testimony as follows:
Prof Phil Jones told the University of East Anglia’s boss that he did not delete any of the emails that were released from the university last November, despite apparently saying he would in one of those emails.
In the narrowest sense, the very existence of the Climategate emails seems to show that, whatever Jones may or may not have attempted to do, he had not deleted the emails that survived on the back up server.
But, needless to say, you have to watch the pea under the thimble as there is more to the story than this, as I found out last spring.
Jones’ delete-all-emails request was directed particularly at the Wahl-Briffa exchange about IPCC in summer 2006. (In a related emails, Jones said that Briffa should deny the existence of such correspondence to the UEA administration – something that was never investigated as misconduct.)
Wahl’s insertions in the IPCC report – the unilateral changes in assessment that do not appear to have had any third party oversight other than Briffa’s – were made in attachments to his emails to Briffa.
Last spring, I sent an FOI request to the University of East Anglia for the attachments to the Wahl emails that would show precisely what Wahl had inserted. These, of course, are precisely the sort of thing that Muir Russell panel was obligated to examine but didn’t bother.
Contrary to claims by Jones and Acton that nothing had been deleted, the University refused the FOI request on the basis that the attachments had been deleted, that they no longer possessed the attachments to the emails – see previous review here.
In response to my request, they said:
We were unable to provide the following four documents as we had determined that these were no longer held by the University and cited Reg. 12(4)(a):
There is no single repository in which all information is held and in order to determine whether the University holds specific information searches are required in a number of locations. I have reviewed the criteria and searches that were undertaken to locate the requested documents and agree with the assessment that these documents are no longer held and agree that Reg. 12(4)(a) applies in this instance.
Acton tells the Sci Tech Committee that nothing has been deleted, but when asked for the documents that Jones specifically asked to be deleted, the university refuses the FOI request on the basis that they no longer have the documents.
Needless to say, Muir Russell didn’t bother trying to figure out what was going on.
Meanwhile in the UK, yet another select committee inquiry is in progress, as Josh points out: