by Fred Pearce The Guardian, Tuesday 20 April 2010
An arch-critic of climate scientists has won a major victory in his campaign to win access to British university data that could reveal details of Europe’s past climate.
In a landmark ruling, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has ruled that Queen’s University Belfast must hand over data obtained during 40 years of research into 7,000 years of Irish tree rings to a City banker and part-time climate analyst, Doug Keenan.
This week, the Belfast ecologist who collected most of the data, Professor Mike Baillie, described the ruling as “a staggering injustice … We are the ones who trudged miles over bogs and fields carrying chain saws. We prepared the samples and – using quite a lot of expertise and judgment – we measured the ring patterns. Each ring pattern therefore has strong claims to be our copyright. Now, for the price of a stamp, Keenan feels he is entitled to be given all this data.”
Keenan revealed this week that he is launching a new assault. On Monday, he demanded the university also hand over emails that could reveal a three-year conspiracy to block his data request.
Keenan has become notorious for pursuing a series of vitriolic disputes with British academics over climate data. Two years ago, he accused Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia of “fraud” over his analysis of data from weather stations in China. Jones recently conceded he may have to revise the paper concerned.
The latest ruling comes from Graham Smith, deputy information commissioner, who in January said information requests to CRU from climate sceptics were “not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation.” In the Belfast case, as well as insisting the university hand over the data, Smith has accused the university authorities of “a number of procedural breaches.”
The case goes back to April 2007, when Keenan asked Queen’s University for all data from tree-ring studies by Baillie and others. The data covers more than 7,000 years. They contain upwards of 1m measurements from 11,000 tree samples, mostly of oak. The university turned down Keenan’s request, citing a range of exemptions allowed under both the Freedom of Information Act and the European Union’s environmental information regulations. Keenan appealed to the information commissioner.
more at the Guardian
It will be interesting to see what independent analysis shows.