BREAKING: ICO Orders UEA to Produce CRUTEM Station Data

Steve McIntyre reports on Climate Audit:

Breaking news: Today probably marks the closing chapter of the longstanding FOI request for CRUTEM station data. The UK Information Commissioner (ICO) has rendered a decision (see here)  on Jonathon Jones’ appeal of the UEA’s refusal to provide Prof Jones with the CRUTEM station data that they had previously provided to Georgia Tech. The decision that can only be characterized as a total thrashing of the University of East Anglia.

Professor Jonathan Jones of Oxford University (like me, an alumnus of Corpus Christi, Oxford), is a Bishop Hill and CA reader and was one of several CA readers who requested the CRUTEM version sent to Georgia Tech earlier that year. (Contrary to disinformation from Nature, relatively few readers requested CRUTEM data; most FOI requests at the time were for the supposed confidentiality agreements prohibiting data being sent to “non-academics” – agreements that the University was unable to produce.

Jones’ request for CRUTEM data, like mine, was refused by UEA. Like me, Jones appealed the refusal at UEA (the first stage). On Oct 23, 2009, UEA rejected his appeal. (My appeal was rejected about 3 weeks later on the very eve of Climategate.) While I didn’t pursue the appeal to the ICO, Prof Jones did appeal and the present decision is the result of this appeal. I was unaware that this appeal was pending and the decision came as a surprise to me. Since the story started at CA, Andrew Montford and Prof Jones decided that news of the decision should also be broken here. I anticipate that Bishop Hill will also cover the story.

I urge readers to read the thoughtful decision. My own comments will be restricted to some legal aspects of the decision that intrigued me.

Read More Here

Hat Tip to reader “a jones” for posting in Tips & Notes

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Brian H
June 27, 2011 8:04 pm

So, the defense tactic of “throwing s*it-balls against the wall” failed. The stains linger, however.

June 27, 2011 8:20 pm

Got the I C O,
Now we need R I C O.
To the moon, Alice.

June 27, 2011 9:06 pm

Heads up… In the 2nd sentence where the you have the words “(see here)”, there is no hyperlink.
Best regards and thanks for the news, wermet
REPLY: Fixed, thx – JTF

Doug in Seattle
June 27, 2011 9:07 pm

Three cheers for Professor Jonathon Jones of Oxford and for the ICO too in making this decision. Too bad it nearly 2 years, but the right decision was made.

June 27, 2011 9:27 pm

I would love to see the data sets that Phil Jones used to construct his CRU 9x series from. Some of the stations have data going back beyond what NCDC has listed, or is willing to part with. And I believe that the data is not adjusted, which makes it a gold mine for research.

June 27, 2011 9:39 pm

As Steve points out, this is where the non adjustment for UHI starts breaking down. Heh, who lost China?

June 27, 2011 9:46 pm

So those completely altruistic, selfless scientists claiming we’re all going to face a hellish nightmare based on their research have finally been forced to share the data they used while on the public dime… Pulling teeth just doesn’t begin to describe it.

simon abingdon
June 27, 2011 9:47 pm

Get his name right. Jonathan not Jonathon.

June 27, 2011 9:56 pm

Each pat o’ another’s back is hate rising, slacked arms nothing new but traitors be damned, you say?
CLIMATEGATE 101: “For your eyes only…Don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone….Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially? from UEA so he can hide behind that.” – Phil “Hide The Decline” Jones to Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann
Bunch of lawyers ’round ‘ere, I note.

June 27, 2011 10:48 pm

Many will use this data to show that AGW is either not occurring, or is not a problem. The response will be that you can manipulate the data to make it say anything, even false results.
My response would then be: “Quite so!”

Seamus Dubh
June 27, 2011 11:13 pm

But, but, but, I thought they lost all that data.

June 27, 2011 11:16 pm

One more chip knocked off UEA’s block of hubris and obfuscation. Brilliant news, Mr McIntyre..

Beth Cooper
June 27, 2011 11:28 pm

The spin doctors of climatology
Must now reveal the bias
In their tricky methodology.

Scottish Sceptic
June 28, 2011 12:10 am

“The greatest problem facing the world” …. meets a University who is “unable to supply the critical data underlying that assertion because we may loose the chance to commercialise this data … sometime, somewhere, somehow” … in short as far as they are concerned the “worlds greatest problem” can go to hell.
Now becomes: a fifth rate University trying to hide the fact that all it has to offer the world is a simple average with no checking of the data, no understanding of its meaning, no understanding at all of the many and multifarious error … in short nothing, which anyone with a laptop and an afternoon in the pub could not hack together.
And they think anyone should take them seriously?

Richard Maguire
June 28, 2011 12:26 am

This looks like a good (and fair) job by the commissioner – I’m glad that Professor Jones has been successful in his appeal.
For me para 72 in the document (relating to Environmental Information Regulations) just about sums up the problems with so much of Climate Science
“It is not sufficient that disclosure would simply have an effect, the effect must be “adverse”. It is also necessary to show that disclosure “would” have an adverse effect, not that it could or might have an adverse effect”
That would be a useful tenet / guide for most of the headline grabbing stories out there and replace disclosure with CO2 or rising sea levels or …..

Steve C
June 28, 2011 12:34 am

Thank Heaven for that. On the other hand, the ICO is not the most ferocious of watchdogs – I’ll really believe it only when the data is actually released.

June 28, 2011 1:46 am

@Scottish Sceptic says:
June 28, 2011 at 12:10 am
East Anglia was always a fifth rate institution hardly deserving the title “university”. It was unequivocally Britain’s worst university until the polytechnics were upgraded to university status in the 1980s.

June 28, 2011 1:47 am

Given the amount of effort they have gone to in the past to avoid disclosing anything, I will be amazed if UEA don’t appeal.
What I really don’t understand is why they want to keep their data secret. If things are as bad as they say they are, then they should be not only making the data available, but they should be begging of anyone who will listen: “Here’s the data – we think it looks bad – can you do a sanity check on it”.
Moreover, to claim that they aren’t permitted to release the data doesn’t appear to hold water. On this page they include a link to all the agreements they have for the data:
I count five. One is a Spanish form completed by Mike Hulme addressed to the Spanish met officeSpain. Another two, from Norway and Bahrain, do restrict distribution of the data. One is a request for data from the UK met office in which Hike Hulme says he won’t share the data, and again, fair enough. And one appears to be a print of the standard terms from the Met office website. That last says it all, really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Wasn’t one of the excuses for not releasing data that country boundaries had changed, and so it wasn’t possible to contact the appropriate authorities to get permission? I’m not sure about Bahrain, but I’m fairly confident that Norway, Spain and the UK have been pretty stable, boundary wise, in the time period we’re talking about.

Robert Morris
June 28, 2011 1:48 am

I don’t know if this is another brick knocked out of the wall or simply the prelude to a 35 day wait until a contempt of court action is initiated.
Either way, its popcorn time!

June 28, 2011 2:02 am

Does anyone think that UEA are meekly going to comply with this order? I would like to think so, but they have the right to appeal and it must be highly likely that they will take it based on everything that they have done up to now, even if only as a way of delaying the inevitable.
Sadly I doubt very much that this is the end of the story.

Sonya Porter
June 28, 2011 2:40 am

—I apologise if I seem very thick, but I just don’t understand all the letters. For instance, what do CRUTEM and all the others stand for? It would be most helpful if the actual titles could be written out in full in the first instance, followed by the letters in brackets and then the letters can be used on their own thereafter.

June 28, 2011 2:51 am

wow. that’s a commissioner who doesn’t mess around.
i think he’s left them no room for further argument or evasion.
that ruling was extremely well considered and made to show it.

June 28, 2011 3:00 am

The precedent this represents for British FOI actions suggests that Ken Briffa’s
tree ring data may be subject to a precisely written Freedom of Information
Act/Environmental Information Act Regulations request.
Any e-mails Ken might have floating around in servers the British public paid
for concerning site and sample selections would be fascinating.

Darkinbad the Brightdayler
June 28, 2011 3:07 am
EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they have pulled together research that supports their case and cast the runes
Wait……..we had PMOW appearing every few summers when I was a kid. Is this a case of New Lamps for Old?

June 28, 2011 4:02 am

Someone at UAE needs to take them in hand and tell them, “no, just release the data”. This must have cost them quite a packet. I would be wondering why these climateers didn’t want to release it. I understand the hand-waving to start with, but now they are just looking silly. An appeal would make them look sillier.
If they appeal, I shall be wondering if there isn’t after all a smoking gun it.

Dr A Burns
June 28, 2011 4:44 am

There must be a huge amount of data. Who is going to analyse it and how ? Is there full access to CRU methods ?

June 28, 2011 5:20 am

“requested the CRUTEM version sent to Georgia Tech earlier that year.”
And what year was “that?”
And the next sentence has no closing parenthesis.

Ken Harvey
June 28, 2011 7:28 am

UEA will fight on. They have to as their life depends upon it. The life of AGW also depends upon it. The livelihoods of thousands of climate “scientists” depend upon it. The credibility of all too many leading politicians depend upon it. The policies of all too many governments depend upon it. Delay is the only defense left to them.

June 28, 2011 8:47 am

Well done Dr (J) Jones. Your persistence is inspiring.
I am sure that the decision of the UK Information Commissioner (ICO) will be scrutinized by both:
1) Virginia AG Cuccinelli and his team of investigators pursuing documents related to M. Mann while he was at UVA
2) The American Tradition Institute’s team that will, in the coming few months, view (in camera) the UVA documents of M. Mann that UVA says are exempted from FOI. It appears to me that the UK ICO decision supplied some cogent arguments that will be useful to spring into public light the UVA MM related emails that the UVA has so far claimed are exempted from FOI disclosure.

Patrick Davis
June 28, 2011 8:57 am

Although seemingly good news on the surface, this is the UK after all. It’ll just be brushed aside, nothing to see. Like the scary CO2 monster bedtime ads in the UK, banned for a little while, then allowed to be aired again.

June 28, 2011 9:03 am

Dr burns, you can read all about the gruesome “methods” of the CRU here:
Prepare for a shock. I read this file in 2009 and was instantaneously converted to a sceptic.

June 28, 2011 9:45 am

The ICO decision is a very well written document.
Thank you ICO.

June 28, 2011 10:18 am

Sonya Porter says:
June 28, 2011 at 2:40 am
“what do CRUTEM and all the others (acronyms) stand for?”
Don’t feel bad, the alphabet soup gets me sometimes too. 🙂

Jan v J
June 28, 2011 12:26 pm

@ bananabender (@Scottish Sceptic)
Fifth? You are too kind, sir.

June 28, 2011 1:01 pm

Sonya Porter says:
“what do CRUTEM and all the others stand for? ”
CRUTEM is not really an acronym, it’s the name of the dataset. CRU is the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. TEM is short for Temperature Series.

June 28, 2011 1:15 pm

Shona says:
June 28, 2011 at 4:02 am
If they appeal, I shall be wondering if there isn’t after all a smoking gun it.

Even if, as I think likely, this particular dataset is squeaky clean, not to appeal (or a failed appeal) sets a precendent which would mean that other FOI requests previously refused on these grounds are also open to challenge, and would be harder to refuse. On the other hand, a successful appeal would set the opposite precedent.
It seems to me they have no choice but to appeal.

Mac the Knife
June 28, 2011 2:08 pm

Sonya Porter says:
June 28, 2011 at 2:40 am
“I apologise if I seem very thick, but I just don’t understand all the letters. For instance, what do CRUTEM and all the others stand for? It would be most helpful if the actual titles could be written out in full in the first instance, followed by the letters in brackets and then the letters can be used on their own thereafter.
Sonya – You are not ‘thick’..You are correct. It is standard procedure in technical writing to spell out in full all titles or phrases when first used and, if their acronym is to be used in the remaining text, to immediately follow with the foreshortened acronym within brackets or parenthesis. Examples:
University of East Anglia – United Kingdom (UEA – UK)
UEA Climate Research Unit (UEA – CRU)
CRU TEMperature Data Base (CRUTEM)
‘Shop blindness’ is a term applicable to many writers. They are so familiar with their familiar topics that they forget to explain the jargon and acronyms ‘up front’ for the understanding of others. I have to confess, I’m guilty of this myself, on occasion! Hope this helps…..

June 28, 2011 2:29 pm

I just finished reading the ICO decision. I saved it because it is going to be referenced in all future discussion of pending FOIA (& FOI) cases either in the UK or the USA (even though obviously the legal systems are not the same).
This is clear analysis of why there are errors in the basis of exemptions thought up by too many scientific universities, institutes, academies, societies and government bodies.
This is a benchmark document whether it is appealed by UEA or not.

June 28, 2011 2:49 pm

I’m just going to leave another link to the HARRY_READ_ME.txt. For the uninitiated, the file is a chronology of the frustrations the poor programmer went through when collating the temperature dataset. It is loaded with nuggets that makes me believe the finished product, as some people call it, is at best very inaccurate and at worst a bespoke con on an unimaginable scale.
Here’s the link:
It’s a long file, but I am amazed the file is not being discussed more. In my opinion it may be more important than the mails from the same Climate-gate leaks.
Read it, and ignore the stuff you don’t understand, you will still be stunned. If you are a programmer you will be disgusted.

June 28, 2011 2:57 pm

Just one more thing: Search for ‘GHH’ (without the apostrophes) to find the juicy parts in the Harry file. This catches most ways of spelling variants of “ARRGGHHH”
Have fun.

Dr A Burns
June 28, 2011 2:58 pm

>>Niels says:
>>Dr burns, you can read all about the gruesome “methods” of the CRU here: >>
Thanks Neils. I’d seen bits of the Harry_Read_Me but this is a very interesting article. The file certainly deserves some detailed analysis, especially comments such as “it’s all synthetic from 1990 onwards”

F. Ross
June 28, 2011 3:17 pm

Sonya Porter says:
June 28, 2011 at 2:40 am
—I apologise if I seem very thick, but I just don’t understand all the letters. For instance, what do CRUTEM and all the others stand for? It would be most helpful if the actual titles could be
written out in full in the first instance, followed by the letters in brackets and then the letters can be used on their own thereafter.

Been there.
CRU Climate Research Unit +TEM – a file or set of files at CRU
See Resources [top of page]:

Alicia Frost
June 28, 2011 3:55 pm

Actually his link put by Niels above
\probably the most important link on the whole AGW scam basically NONE of the adjusted global temps from CRUD, NOAAC (pun intended) etc can be trusted. You may note that Berkeley temp project has suddenly disappeared probably because if they actually have the raw unadjusted it doesn’t show anything. BTW UHA data is not the same as they keep on saying. Its much cooler see for yourselves.

June 28, 2011 8:37 pm

I note that Jonathan Jones believes that when he finally receives the CRUTEM data under the FOI, he won’t be able to share it further due to stipulations he believes will be placed on the material.
6) Even if I do receive the Webster data it is highly likely that UEA will claim the right to restrict further distribution of my copy of the data. In other words if you want a copy you will probably not be able to get one from me, and will instead have to make your own FOI request to UEA. It would be simplest to cite this decision notice in any such request.
7) That said, I would urge people not to request this or other data from UEA unless you genuinely want it for some useful purpose. While I understand the reasoning behind the decision to make multiple requests for confidentiality agreements from UEA, that action, in my opinion, helped UEA’s public relations presentations (although not, it seems, their case with the ICO). There are plenty of individuals reading this capable of undertaking effective analyses of this and other data, and on the whole such analyses should be left by the rest of us to them.

Should Dr. Jones’ projections prove correct, the results, in my opinion, still fall far short of the openness and transparency that should be fundamental to science. Surely the data and methods used to select and adjust the data should be made available for all who wish to scrutinize. Even so, great work, Dr. (J.) Jones!

June 28, 2011 10:19 pm

The endless, specious claims of exemption on the part of UEA remind me of the chap who was being sued for demolishing a rental camera. His lawyer came up with 3 reasons why the suit should be thrown out of court:
1. My client has never rented a camera from the plaintiff.
2. The camera was already broken when my client received it.
3. My client returned the camera in perfect condition.

June 28, 2011 10:58 pm

Niels says: “Just one more thing: Search for ‘GHH’ (without the apostrophes) to find the juicy parts in the Harry file. This catches most ways of spelling variants of “ARRGGHHH” Have fun.”
OH, yeah, right! HARRY_READ_ME file is hideously painful to read It’s hideous. I cringe every time I read one of the AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH sections. If there was ever a field where the maxim, “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” applies, it’s computer programming. I envision a place in Hell where the damned must fix programs written by others who absolutely didn’t know what they were doing and (worse) refused to provide the necessary remarks and documentation to indicate what they thought they were doing. The gang of monkeys at UEA who created the monster Harry is trying to slay will be found at the deepest levels of Hell if Harry has anything to say about it. Good thing he had a sense of humor:
“6. Temporarily abandoned 5., getting closer but there’s always another problem to be evaded.”

Larry Fields
June 29, 2011 2:42 am

I have a stupid question. My understanding is that Phil Jones destroyed–I mean accidentally misplaced–150 years of raw climate data. But according to the article, at least a subset of that data was sent to some politically correct folks at Georgia Tech. So ignoring the obvious chain-of-custody issue, Phil Jones’ ‘senior moment’ did not result in a TOTAL loss for the raw data with which he was entrusted. Did I got that right?

June 29, 2011 6:10 am

Also danke Don Keillor.

June 29, 2011 6:22 am

er, ER. That’s Don Keiller, who has left fine comments at Steve’s and at lucia’s. He pursued the other complaint with the ICO and was just as successful as J. Jones.

July 1, 2011 6:49 pm

Lucia has noticed that there is no central email repository at UEA.

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