The plot thickens: BBC Hits UK Govt with Freedom of Information Demand in Cold Winter Forecast Fiasco

Met Office

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By John O’ Sullivan

The BBC serves Freedom of Information request (FOIA) on UK Government over weather forecast failures secrecy in worst winter for 100 years.

In an almighty battle to salvage credibility three British government institutions are embroiled in a new global warming scandal with the BBC mounting a legal challenge to force ministers to admit the truth. Sceptics ask: Is the UK government’s climate propaganda machine finally falling apart?

Last week the weather service caused a sensation by making the startling claim that it was gagged by government ministers from issuing a cold winter forecast. Instead, a milder than average prediction was made that has been resoundingly ridiculed in one of the worst winters in a century.

With the BBC appearing to take the side of the Met Office by seeking to force the government to give honest answers, untold harm will likely befall Prime Minister Cameron’s global warming policies on energy, taxation and the environment.

Rift between BBC, Met Office and UK Government Grows

Speculation in newspapers and the blogosphere has festered for the past week as Chris Huhne, minister in charge of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) stubbornly remain silent. I contacted the BBC’s Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin, one of the world’s senior journalists on such matters to ascertain if the Beeb had a better handle on the story.

Harrabin advised me, “I phoned the Met Office about this statement and the Met Office press office told me they’d given information to the Cabinet Office that we were facing an early cold winter.”

Mention of the ‘secret’ cold winter forecast appears in the Quarmby Report (Section 2.4) which states, “The Met Office gave ‘early indications of the onset of a cold spell from late November’ at the end of October.”

Giving a strong hint that a major rift appears to have opened up between Met Office chief executive, John Hirst and Climate Minister, Huhne, Harrabin further revealed, “The Beeb now has an FoI [freedom of information request] to Cabinet Office requesting verbatim info from [the] Met Office.”

In what may well be an orchestrated manoeuvre between the Met Office and Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC the freedom of information demand will heap huge embarrassment on David Cameron’s gaffe-prone coalition government.

Ministers Facing Accusations of Malfeasance of Public Office

If the Beeb succeeds in forcing Cameron’s government to come clean it looks probable hat government ministers intentionally conspired to withhold vital severe weather forecast information placing both lives and jobs at risk. So far losses to the UK economy linked to this year’s severe winter weather are estimated to be above £10 billion.

MP’s Call for Official Parliamentary Probe

Dr. Benny Peiser of Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF ) reports (January 10, 2011) that Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, chairman of the Transport Select committee, is angling to be appointed to head such an official parliamentary probe.

“The current winter fiasco is no longer a joke as the economic damage to the British economy as a result of the country’s ill-preparedness is running at £1bn a day and could reach more than £15 billion,” said Dr Peiser, the GWPF’s Director.

But if the coalition government gives in to demands for a full inquiry, which is as likely as turkeys voting for Christmas, then no doubt heads will roll in high places.

 

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crosspatch

While the media seems to want to hang this on Cameron, I am not convinced that the problem isn’t the other half of the coalition govt.
This sort of manipulation seems much more in line with the policy of Labor than of the Conservatives.

APACHEWHOKNOWS

“He said, She said, is not that good of a method of understanding weather.”
Looks like the fear of truth and fear of a clear vote to raise taxes has them all some feet out from the cliff and in free fall.
It is easy, cut spending or tell the truth of the lust to spend and raise taxes.
sad little men these

kim

Watch the villagers
Light the torches for some fun.
Frankenstein stalks streets.
==============

latitude

“it looks probable hat government ministers intentionally conspired to withhold vital severe weather forecast information placing both lives and jobs at risk”
“The Met Office gave ‘early indications of the onset of a cold spell from late November’ at the end of October.”
===========================================================
This is just more complete and total BS…………
The MET, at best, predicted a cold spell, not record breaking, life threatening, once in a hundred years cold.
The MET didn’t predict anything. If they could have, there’s no way they could have missed this record breaking weather. What they are saying is the equivalent of predicting cloudy with light showers and have it turn into a once in a century flood.
The BBC is trying to turn this into a political slam fest and trying to blame the party in power, when it’s obviously the MET.

TheSkyIsFalling

@crosspatch
I think you meant Liberal, not Labour. The Labour party is now in opposition, and the coalition is between the Conservatives and the Liberals.

EW

British Conservatives pride themselves to be very green. Not much difference from Labour.

Mike Haseler

I’ve just been reading about the £100million cost of repairing potholes in Scotland alone (and as an aside I’ve got a bruised elbow where I came off my bike on an icy pavement)
But the question that I really want answered is this: “if the UK government were given a forecast of a severe did they provide this forecast to the Scottish (devolved) government and if so why not.”
And, if they did provide the forecast, why was the Scottish government so caught out by the bad weather and claim that it was a poor Met Office forecast?
The same question also applies to Northern Ireland as both Northern Ireland and Scotland have had ministers resign due to the severe winter … which if a forecast were kept from them by the UK government results in quite a serious constitutional problem because it looks like the UK government are denying information which could have helped saved lives!

Isn’t Roger Harrabin impressed by the Met Office’s ability to predict milder than normal and colder than normal winters at the same time?
I’m not sure that such presciently varied ‘visions of the future’ can be deemed to be Cameron’s fault. (Excepting the fact that he over funds both the Met Office and the BBC).

“But if the coalition government gives in to demands for a full inquiry, which is as likely as turkeys voting for Christmas….”
The turkeys already have voted for Christmas in the form of the Climate Change Act. This passed through the House of Commons, during unseasonably early snowfall, in October 2008 with all but three MPs present voting for the bill which, if implemented in full, will cost the UK £18 Billion per year.
However, the winter forecast issue will probably not take off in the House of Commons. The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties, along with most or, maybe, all of the smaller parties represented at Westminster have swallowed the AGW panic – hook, line and sinker. They will be very reluctant to admit they have been “sold a pup.”

Methow Ken

You couldn’t make this stuff up; or if you did, it would make a pretty good soap opera (if results were not so serious; i.e.: Potentially 15+ billion in economic losses).

If the Met Office prediction was somewhat vague, it means trouble for the Met Office
If the Met Office did give a high probability of a harsh winter, in secret, to the cabinet office, then it means trouble for the coalition government (Conservative/lib dem coalition ~ 5/1 ratio of MP’s)
I wonder if the BBC read Watts Up With That, I wrote this yesterday,
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/09/the-met-office-secret-prediction-and-the-political-implications/
“Bishop Hill and other blogs report that Freedom of Information request are being sent off for these ‘ so called ‘secret’ Met Office predictions made to the government.
After all it must be true, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin reported it?
I wonder if the BBC have thought to send any FOI requests in themselves, just to check the facts of this story. The BBC just renewed a 5 year contract with the Met Office to provide all the weather forecasting for the BBC. The BBC surely does not want to look as if it is being lax in its investigative journalism? If only to check that the service provided to the BBC by the Met Office is competent and can be trusted, as it is taxpayers money paying for this service.”

Mac

I wonder if the BBC see the irony of pestering people doing serious work, the UK government, with FoI requests.

I would guess this has Chris Huhne’s [Minister for Climate Change (sic!)] finger prints on it. I agree. If true, it feels like a Left-Lib type ploy.

Roger Longstaff

There must be an enquiry, headed by an “unimpeachable” High Court Judge……….
I hear that HMG has just ordered another tanker of whitewash.

Anoneumouse

As a UK citizen I am tempted to submit an FOIA request to the Cabinet Office enquiring if they have received an FOIA request on this matter from the BBC.

andyS

Crosspatch. The sad truth is that all the evidence suggests that Cameron is signed up as sincerely to AGW as the leaders of the other parties. He is on record as saying that his government will be the “greenest ever”. He is just another out of touch, never had a proper job, politician.

Hey, the BBC re-appointed the Met Office last year for its weather forecasting service. Quite apart from its ‘news’ interest and the political anti-government angle that the BBC might like to put on this, and the discomfiture it would seek to apply to the Conservatives, what about its own interest in being sold a pup just after renewing its contract with the Met Office? If the Met Office was secretly briefing the Cabinet Office differently from what it was telling its paying subscribers, I would think that those subscribers, particularly those that have a statutory public service responsibility, such as the BBC, could sue the Met Office.
Alternatively, since withholding the important information has resulted in serious loss of life, I would think that the Health and Safety Executive should be interested in taking out a corporate manslaughter case against the Cabinet Office and/or the Met Office. Actions for corporate manslaughter are possible against both the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence (which owns the Met Office) under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Both are specifically mentioned as Crown agencies against which proceedings may be taken.

Sam Hall

Are we to believe the MET changed it stripes and really predicted a cold winter? That would be out of character for them.
Of course, at this point either the MET or the Government is in trouble. I don’t see how both of them can escape.
Better buy more popcorn.

Marlene Anderson

I’m pleased the BBC has thrown the challenge into the open as the public will be even further persuaded AGW is a contrived emergency meant to pick their pockets in order to line the pockets of others. The question now is whether the government comes clean and admits they had the severe winter warnings in advance. If so, then the follow-up question is why they failed to warn local governments so that preparations could be made. If not, then perhaps the BBC will keep up its harangue for release of the information. Any way the answers flow, it will do serious damage to the AGW movement which is already reeling.
There surely must be an award we could hand out to the UK government for the best and longest running sitcom. They’ve been the most enthusiastic supporter of AGW among all western countries and are showing they’re not above manipulating the ratings to keep the series going.

jason

crosspatch says:
January 11, 2011 at 8:36 am
While the media seems to want to hang this on Cameron, I am not convinced that the problem isn’t the other half of the coalition govt.
This sort of manipulation seems much more in line with the policy of Labor than of the Conservatives.
——–
That would be a wonderful theory, if labour actually was in the coalition government…..

DJ Meredith

If the government is lying about the weather, it’s because they’re lying about the climate.

JEM

untold harm will likely befall Prime Minister Cameron’s global warming policies on energy, taxation and the environment.
Oh, please, pretty please!
Cameron’s been pimping the warmist line for a long time; he and his breed of Tory may not be the most vocal of the carbon-haters in the Coalition but he’s not an unwilling accomplice.

Chris H

Huhne is the archetypal water melon and one of the least impressive Liberal members of the government. Quite why he was given the role as minister to DECC is unclear unless he was being set up for a fall. It’s quite likely the Met Office’s warnings didn’t get past his Department which is stuffed with dyed in the wool AGW believers. If so, he has a lot of explaining to do.

The BBC would only do this is they knew and liked what the results would be. I think there is more than meets the eye here and I have trouble believing that the BBC suddenly grew a journalistic spine. If there is no followup on this story then the Met Office lied – the BBC will only follow through if they can dig up dirt on the conservative party.

Robinson

I don’t get it. The Met Office gave the Government a severe weather warning (apparently). The Government didn’t do anything about it. But the Met Office were still themselves, telling us something completely opposite.
I fail to see how it’s the Governments problem if the Met Office are giving out contradictory forecasts, except insofar as they should privatise or otherwise throw the entire organisation into the dustbin.

Michael

It seems religion and politics do mix.
Somewhat OnT
We should really ride this one for all it is worth.
Establishment Ignores Violent Rhetoric From Eco-Leftists
“When the 10:10 campaign put out a video that showed kids in a classroom being murdered by their teacher for refusing to lower their CO2 emissions, it sparked outrage amongst conservative bloggers, yet hardly a ripple was registered on the pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times, or any of the leftist blogs now erroneously trying to blame vitriolic “right-wing” rhetoric for Jared Lee Loughner’s massacre.
Similarly, there was no condemnation when a lobbying group used an image of a dead girl being hanged to push their propaganda about melting icebergs – and in fact the Discovery Channel gave the group an award for the commercial.”
http://www.infowars.com/establishment-ignores-violent-rhetoric-from-eco-leftists/

Hector M.

Labour is not part of the coalition. You must mean Lib-Dems. But I am not sure it is all a matter of political party allegiance: it has to do more likely with British position in Copenhagen, and thus probably involves specifically Huhne and the Foreign Office.
What I wonder is why the advice was suppressed instead of merely delayed; it could have been (albeit belatedly) made public once Copenhagen was over. Or is it that by then it was already too late for forecasting a cold winter?

Elizabeth

Now, if only someone could expose Canada’s CBC, which reads like a national tabloid for climate change alarmism.

stephen richards

This is what we call et tu Brutus. Or form a circle, last one at the back gets the knife.

Steeptown

Where did the Met Office gets its forecast for a cold start to winter? Their computer model is incapable of forecasting it. I suspect that they the plagiarised Piers Corbyn’s forecast.
I have FOI requests in to both the Met Office and the Cabinet Office.

Mark S

“The same question also applies to Northern Ireland as both Northern Ireland and Scotland have had ministers resign due to the severe winter”
Actually, no, just Scotland. Northern Ireland’s Regional Development Minister should have resigned as the person responsible for the water crisis (40,000 without running water for up to 10 days when the thaw happened and reservoirs drained out burst mains), but didn’t owing to the bizarre form of government we have here. Different parties have responsibility for different government departments.

stephen richards

Hector M. says:
January 11, 2011 at 9:21 am
The problem was (before Cancun not NoHopenhagen) that the conference was in Nov/Dec and by then all private forecasters had indicated not just a cold Dec but an Extreme Dec. The Met Off was still calling for a warm winter but may have been saying a coldish Dec elsewhere. The wording will be crucial and knowing the MetOff it will allow for all interpretations. The slimeballs at the BBC are just playing nappy/dyper/couch politics (bachside covering). It would be interesting to know whether these seasonal forecasts were part of the new BBC-MetOff contract. Now that would be interesting if the MetOff were telling the BBC one thing and the Government another. Ooooh, merde-ventilateur-mûr all come to mind.

Robinson

Copenhagen

You mean Cancun.

Dr T G Watkins

This will be fun. How strong was the secret warning, who in government knew about it and were the Met. Office gagged from revealing their late change of tack to local councils and the general public? The National Grid might have been interestd too.
There has been a stony silence from the Met. Off. regarding their forecasts for January, February and March. Maybe they haven’t checked with Piers Corbyn yet.

Roy UK

Is it any wonder the government wanted a warm winter? It cost them a fortune in Cold weather payments to the elderly when it started snowing…
And I am sure they would love to be able to introduce more Green Taxes to recoup some of the money we owe.
As always any enquiry will be a greenwash, nothing to see here, move along…
On a side note: The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is married to Miriam González Durántez, She is on the Board of Directors of Acciona, S.A., the Spanish renewable energy, infrastructure projects and water management conglomerate.
I am sure that has nothing to do with his policies, but interesting none the less.
Kool-aid anyone?

Wucash

I think they’re all as bad as eachother. Although it does look like the Beeb and the Met eco loons allied themselves against the government.
I’m just wondering what has happened to BBC reviewing its neutrality? After some time it’s back to being fully biased towards AGW. Hell, even when Arnie left office, the best thing BBC News said about him was that he was ‘green’.
Yesterday I watched Horizon with Ben Miller (from that comedy clip that was shown not too long ago here). His scientific task was to talk about temperature, heat, etc. In the end the inevitable happened – Global warming. Hell, he even got a weather station from the Met Ofiice to put up on his roof, and praised its accuracy, bla bla blah.
The Beeb is a one big, biased joke, it makes me sick watching it now these days.

wws

the good part is that there is now palpable hatred growing between the Government and the Met Office, and also a deep and gathering mistrust growing among the public of both of them.
Thus this looks like a win-win no matter how it plays out.

Grumpy Old Man

The BBC is an institutionally left-wing organisation, which has been a repository for left-wing journalism for at least 40 years. It is also profoundly “green” to the point of removing sceptical presenters from broadcasting in environmental programs.
The aim of this request is almost certainly to embarrass the Coalition government. It is a short-sighted aim, particularly because the BBC has plenty of skeletons in the cupboard on telling the truth over environmental issues, and the Met Office has also a lot to lose in a mud-slinging match. Both institutions are largely dependent on Government patronage for their existence, and Windmill Dave is developing a reputation for bearing grudges. This imbroglio will run and run, at least 3 buckets of popcorn and a case of beer. Draw up the sofa, turn off the phone and enjoy!

NeilM

thegoodlocust January 11, 2011 at 9:18 am
“The BBC would only do this is they knew and liked what the results would be. I think there is more than meets the eye here and I have trouble believing that the BBC suddenly grew a journalistic spine. If there is no followup on this story then the Met Office lied – the BBC will only follow through if they can dig up dirt on the conservative party.”
Spot-on assessment IMHO.

Jimbo

Metgate?

Governments come and go so politicians are expendable.
The BBC and the Met need to be seen to be vindicated over this ‘blunder’ as they will still be here long after this coalition government has been forgotten about.
The truth is that this whole faux controversy is utterly staged. They are ALL as thick as thieves and have ALL participated in AGW fraud.
It is just that the politicians are the weakest link and the least important so they will be the scapegoats on this one. Its either the BBC and the Met or Cameron’s coalition government.
It is as they say (though I detest the expression) a no-brainer.

James Evans

I don’t see how the BBC FOIA request would help the Met Office. Whatever advice was given to the government, it wouldn’t explain why the Met office continued to tell us that it would be warm.

Marlene Anderson

@ Elizabeth: The CBC’s delirious trumpeting of man-made global warming is about the only means they have of attracting any kind of readership. I make a point of going to their website with the sole purpose of debating the warmists who flood the comments on any article on climate change. I’m pretty unhappy about my tax dollars going to support that despicable AGW mouthpiece.

Paul - Nottingham

No wonder Chris Huhne has remained silent. When he flew back from Cancun he was so exhausted that he had to fly to California for a holiday with his girlfriend.

Dont forget that Roger Harrabin, as opposed to Richard Black, has recently changed his stance on CAGW. He has not moved 180 degrees, but he certainly moved 45 degrees; maybe 90 degrees. And dont forget that there are short term weather forecasters at the Met, who, IMHO, are excellent. I visit the UK routinely, and avidly listen to the Shipping Forecast, which is a thing of beauty. I am certain the forecast of cold weather came from the short term forecasters, not the useless climate modellers.

RichieP

@Hector M.
‘What I wonder is why the advice was suppressed instead of merely delayed; it could have been (albeit belatedly) made public once Copenhagen was over. Or is it that by then it was already too late for forecasting a cold winter?’
It’s this winter, not the last, that this refers to – Cancun not Copenhagen.

Robinson

it wouldn’t explain why the Met office continued to tell us that it would be warm.

Unless the Government told them to, that is.

David Waring

It must be just me, but I can find no source of the purported FOI request, neither in this thread (including the OP) nor in the many echoes out on the interwebs.
Are we to really expected to take the whole basis for this story on faith ?

Mac the Knife

“……untold harm will likely befall Prime Minister Cameron’s global warming policies on energy, taxation and the environment.”
Third bloody cold winter in a row for the British Isles! Focus on the facts and ‘the truth shall set you free’. Untold GOOD will likely befall the inhabitants of the planet.

JohnH

Never seen a MET office forecast yet that was specific enough to be a true we will nail our colours to the mast forecast. The most forceful its likely to have been is ‘The is a small but possibly larger chance of the winter being colder than normal’ . I would be extremely suprised if it was any more definate than that, unless they added a note along the lines of ‘And Peirs says it will be really bad and he’s a better forcaster that us’ LOL