LONDON, 28 January 2010 – Lord Lawson, the Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, has this week written to Sir Muir Russell about the terms of reference and the conduct of his Independent Inquiry into the allegations against the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.
Lord Lawson said the terms of reference needed to be broadened to cover not just what occurred within the CRU but also the impact externally, including whether the CRU sought to deny opportunities to other scientists to publish dissenting views. The Inquiry should take evidence not just from the CRU but also from those who feel they or their work have been improperly treated or have had information unreasonably denied to them.
Lord Lawson also argued that if public confidence is to be restored the
proceedings should be conducted in public wherever possible. Also any
relevant material which is discovered beyond the e-mails so far disclosed
should be published. The CRU has been an important contributor to the IPCC
process (which has recently been found wanting in other respects) which in
turn has provided the scientific basis for the international policy
debate. If the British people are to make significant sacrifices and
accept major changes in their life style they need to have confidence in
the integrity of both the underlying science and the way in which it is
The following is the full text of the letter:
The Global Warming Policy Foundation
1 Carlton House Terrace
London SW1Y 5DB
Tel: 020 7930 6856
January 27, 2010
Sir Muir Russell
cc Professor Edward Acton
On behalf of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, I greatly welcome the
establishment of your inquiry. The integrity of the scientific basis of
the global warming debate must be unimpeachable. It should also be
recognised that the Climatic Research Unit is not just one among many
research centres but is a key contributor to the work of the IPCC.
I broadly welcome the terms of reference that have been drawn up, though
with some concern that they may be a bit too CRU-centric. I am glad to
note that you have discretion to extend them if you wish so that you can
follow the trail wherever it leads. It is also right that you are
examining not just the published e-mails but also any other relevant
e-mails. In this way you will be able to assess the claim that those so
far published have been taken out of context but also see if there is
other material which sheds light on the accusations.
It is essential, too, that your investigation is not confined to what
occurred within CRU. As well as taking evidence from those in CRU who wish
to clear their names, you should go outside CRU and take evidence from
those who feel they or their work have been improperly treated. Some of
the published e-mails, for example, suggest a determined effort by CRU
scientists to prevent the publication in peer-reviewed journals of
dissenting papers by other scientists. The damage to the public interest
can be just as much from what was suppressed as from what was incorrectly
On process, I recognise that you do not want to turn this inquiry over to
the lawyers, with witnesses closely advised or even represented by
lawyers. Nevertheless I think you would be wise to take on some legal
expertise. First, it is important that the outcome is conclusive and is
not subject afterwards to legal challenges as happened, for example, in
the OFSTED investigation of the Baby P case. Secondly, it would assist you
as chair if someone else experienced in cross examination led the
questioning, leaving you free to concentrate on listening to the answers.
I also believe it is essential that you co-opt some statistical expertise.
Much of the controversy arose from the statistical techniques used to meld
together date from different sources. Were those techniques applied
consistently and were they transparent to other scientists? Much of the
forensic challenge to the so-called Hockey Stick controversy has come from
Finally, there is the question of openness and transparency. It has
increasingly come to be recognised that, if the findings of an inquiry are
to command public confidence, it is necessary for the inquiry to be held
for the most part in public (national security being the most obvious
cause for exception), with transcripts of each day’s evidence made
promptly available. The current Chilcot Iraq inquiry is only the latest in
a series of inquiries where this has been the case. It is also the only
way of demonstrating fairness towards those under investigation.
We shall be releasing the text of this letter within the next few days.
The Rt Hon Lord Lawson of Blaby
h/t to Dr. Benny Peiser