UEA's response to EIR/FOIA requests – It depends who you are

Guest post by Richard Brearley

This post is written to publicise an interesting anomaly in UEA’s (University of East Anglia) treatment of requests sent to it under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Readers should know that my interest is only in compliance with EIR Regulations. I am neither qualified nor sufficiently knowledgeable to get to the meat of some of the requests for data from UEA or to understand it even if it is disclosed. I am a lawyer by training and the recent QUB and UEA ICO cases have interested me greatly – they have shown a strong reluctance on the part of these publicly funded organisations to retain for their own benefit the work for which we have all paid. Thus is identified a friction between what those institutions consider to be their valid interests and what the Regulations provide – public access. I have become highly interested in the way in which these interests are balanced and my preference is in favour of public access, (which is under the Regulations the presumption from where we all start), to information created or produced with tax payer money.

Readers may remember Steve McIntyre’s EIR request to UEA (UEA ref: FOI_11-047; EIR_11-004) relating to the “URALS” as referred to in the 2006 email from Dr Osborn (see below). I read Mr McIntyre’s posts on this and as a UK resident concerned about the apparent repeated failure of tax funded scientists to reveal data, etc., and in the interests of properly transparent science, I decided to lodge an identical request to that lodged by Mr McIntyre. I felt that I might be able to monitor and pursue such a request more easily being both resident here in the UK and also a solicitor who might have a reasonable understanding of the relevant law and who would be able to deal with any future hearings myself.

My request (UEA ref: FOI_11-113; EIR_11-010) was as follows:

“Dear Sirs,

Re – Freedom of Information / Environmental Information Regulations request

Please accept this letter as a request under the above legislation/regulations.

My request arises from the following email of 28.4.2006:

Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006

To: philip.brohan

From: Tim Osborn

Subject: Re: Standardisation uncertainty for tree-ring series

Cc: Keith Briffa,simon.tett

Hi Philip,

we have three “groups” of trees:

SCAND” (which includes the Tornetrask and Finland multi-millennial chronologies, but also some shorter chronologies from the same region). These trees fall mainly within the 3 boxes centred at: 17.5E, 67.5N;22.5E, 67.5N; 27.5E, 67.5N

“URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other shorter ones). These fall mainly within these 3 boxes: 52.5E, 67.5N; 62.5E, 62.5N (note this is the only one not at 67.5N); 67.5E, 67.5N

TAIMYR” (which includes the Taimyr long chronology, plus other shorter ones). These fall mainly within these 4 boxes: 87.5E, 67.5N; 102.5E, 67.5N; 112.5E, 67.5N; 122.5E, 67.5N

We do some analysis at the group scale, and for this we take the JJA temperatures from each box and average to the group scale to obtain a single series from each of SCAND, URALS and TAIMY.

We do some analysis at the overall scale, and for this we take these three group temperature series and average them to get an overall NW Eurasia temperature for boxes with tree chronologies in them.

We did also try using a wider average for the region, including all LAND temperatures from grid boxes within a rectangular region from 12.5E to 127.5E and from 57.5N to 72.5N, but I don’t think it correlated so well against the tree-ring width data (I can’t remember the exact correlations), so we didn’t pursue that.

Does that give you enough information to be going on with? I’d recommend using CRUTEM3 rather than HadCRUT3, because the correlations seem to deteriorate with the inclusion of SST data in some cases — though of course you can look into this yourself.

Cheers

Tim

I would be grateful to receive from you:

1) A digital version of the series for the “group of trees” described in the email as “URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other shorter ones).”;

2) A list of all the measurement data sets used to compile this series “URALS”, including the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies and the shorter ones, with each data set denoted by ITRDB identification or equivalent;

3) A digital version of the measurement data used in this series “URALS”.

Yours faithfully……”

Mr McIntyre’s slightly earlier request to UEA was in identical terms.

My original request was refused based on the now familiar grounds that UEA has deployed in a previous ICO case which was recently reported and in respect of which there was some recent blogging comment and activity (see the Professor Jones case):

http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/decisionnotices/2011/fer_0282488.ashx and on the grounds deployed by QUB in the Keenan case: http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/decisionnotices/2010/FS_50163282.ashx and I submitted a request for an internal appeal which is currently being processed by UEA.

However, in my appeal to UEA for internal consideration I made clear amongst other things that it had not properly identified the information I was requesting and had in fact unilaterally interpreted my request (contrary to Regulation 9) as being for 1001 bootstraps. UEA had responded by refusing to provide information I had not asked for and of course under Regulation 9 the public authority is obliged to clarify any request that might be ambiguous – although in the request I had only used the “nomenclature” used by UEA itself (and which point I made in my appeal), asking UEA to clarify this). The issue arose from the email of 2006. There is, I accept, room for interpretation of what Dr Osborn was actually talking about in that email. The later comments therein certainly make clear that there are three group temperature series which are worked on at the group scale and that these three series are then averaged to obtain a single result. I put this to UEA and their response was as follows:

“Dear Mr Brearley

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS 2004 – INFORMATION

REQUEST (FOI_11-113; EIR_11-010)

Further to your letter of 29 June 2011 and our response and 30 June 2011, we arewriting to take you up on your suggestion that we communicate further in order to clarify your request and the grounds of your appeal.

It is very clear that you feel that we have not provided you with what you believe youwere actually requesting. Therefore, as the information requested is very much based on an email from Dr. Osborn in 2006, we have consulted with Dr. Osborn again to further clarify what he was actually referring to in his email.

In your letter of 29 June you contend that “…the email does clearly identify a “series” for the “group of trees” referred to as URALS” and go on to assert that “Dr Osborne is clearly referring to analysis at the group scale (i.e. each of the three groups of trees), and also to three group temperature series, one under each of the group labels, SCAND, URALS and TAIMY. Obviously one of these series is “URALS”. It is clear that these three series are then averaged to produce a single series. URALS at that time is clearly a discrete group temperature series, individually comprised of the information I have asked for, namely the temperature series your university labels “URALS (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies plus other shorter ones)”, and the identification and measurement information relevant to it covered by my requests 2 and 3.” (our emphasis)

We have shared your comments with Dr. Osborn, who responds that the label‘URALS’ in his email of 2006 referred both to ring-width measurement data for a group of trees in this region (encompassing part of the East Ural Mts and the adjacent Yamal peninsula) and to thermometer-based temperature data for the same region; i.e.

(1) A composite (more usually called a chronology) of selected treering measurements from this region.

(2) A composite (more usually called an average) of temperatures measured by thermometers from this region.

We accept that your original request was not for the 1001 bootstrap composites (also referred to in the 2006 email), which was our initial interpretation. Your original request mentioned “groups of trees” but did not mention “temperature series”, which leads us to interpret your request as being for item (1) as defined above by Dr. Osborn, in addition to the associated measurement data. However, in your appeal you make repeated reference to “temperature series”, which suggests that your request is for item (2). Please would you confirm whether you are requesting item (1) or (2), both, or something else? Once we are certain of what you are seeking, we can then provide a proper response to both your original request and your appeal. Please quote our reference given at the head of this letter in all correspondence.

Yours sincerely”

I responded to UEA and thanked them for taking the time to clarify the position. I was obviously pleased that Dr Osborn was in fact able to properly identify what he was referring to in the email and that it comprised discrete information that was identifiable and that we all now knew what we were talking about. This, I considered, was a helpful response that enabled me to consider the position and clarify my requests – all in line with the Regulations and UEA was properly addressing its obligations. I asked that both items in 1) and 2) in their letter should be considered as part of my request and should be included in my internal appeal.

My requests may well be denied at internal appeal stage and will, if so, move to the ICO. That, however, is not the point of this post.

In early July I corresponded briefly with Mr McIntyre to see how he was getting on with his request. Mr McIntyre made an identical request which was denied on identical grounds to my own. He also in his internal appeal rejected UEA’s unilateral interpretation of his request as being for 1001 bootstraps, reiterating what he considered that he was asking for.

Again, in Mr McIntyre’s case as in mine, UEA went to Dr Osborne for clarification of what the 2006 email was in fact referring to.

The letter to me (set out above) identifying what Dr Osborn was referring to in his email is dated 15.7.2011. The letter to Mr McIntyre setting out Dr Osborn’s recollection of what he was referring to in the same 2006 email, and from which the below extract is taken, is dated 18.7.2011. Dr Osborne’s recollection was rather different in respect of Mr McIntyre’s request.

This time UEA responded to Mr McIntyre as follows (and Mr McIntyre has agreed to publication here of relevant parts of UEA’s letter to him):

“…………

Your request is based on information in an illegally obtained email that was not written as a public document and therefore I have asked Dr Osborn as the author of the email to explain what his email was referring to, his response is below:

It is worth clarifying here that although the original email described “Yamal and Polar Urals chronologies” the intended meaning was “trees from the sites that have previously been used to construct long chronologies called Yamal and Polar Urals, plus other shorter ones.” Thus it was not referring to chronologies but to groups of trees. The wording in the email may have led the requester to believe that new chronologies for Yamal and Polar Urals had been produced at that time.

The email you refer to is ambiguous and as Mr Palmer observed in his response “No such composite was attached to or identified by the 2006 email”. The fact that the email does not identify a composite makes it difficult for me to determine what information you are actually requesting.

“On this point in your appeal you have said:

You state that the requested chronology was not attached to the email. This is irrelevant to my request. Dr Osborn knew what he was referring to in the email and is in a position to identify the chronology in question.

As you have observed, Dr Osborn, as the author of the email, is best placed to identify the chronology that you have requested. As part of considering your appeal Dr Osborn has provided me with the following information which is pertinent to our assumption that your request was for the 1,001 bootstraps:

The requester is incorrect: it is relevant that no data were attached to the email and although I do know what I was referring to in the email, this does not necessarily mean that I can identify the requested chronology. UEA’s response noted that “No such composite was attached to or identified by the 2006 email”. The requester has selected just one half of this statement to support his criticism, but in fact both elements must be considered together to come to a fair evaluation of their relevance.

The original request is ambiguous for two reasons.

Firstly, the email identified as 1146252894.txt refers to groups of trees, to temperature data from the regions where the trees were sampled, and to a future plan to process the measurement data from the groups of trees to produce proxy series and many bootstrap estimates of these series. It is only an inference that a regional chronology was later produced for the URALS group of trees. Our initial search for information relevant to this request suggested that this inference was false.

Second, the email was discussing ongoing work, which began in 2005, continued through 2006 and 2007, and to which we have recently returned. During that work, we have produced a number of different regional chronologies for the ‘greater Urals’ region involving multiple methods of selecting, processing and aggregating the measurement data. Some of these regional chronologies have been retained and some have not. The only identification of the requested information is from email 1146252894.txt, but because this only refers to future plans to produce a regional chronology from the URALS group of trees, this is not a unique identification of which – if any – of our working files might contain the requested information. Had the requester asked for a regional chronology that had actually been published, then identification would have been more straightforward because the request could have asked for the specific published version. Similarly, had Dr Osborn attached a specific version to the email 1146252894.txt then this would also have provided a unique identification of the information being requested.

That is why it is relevant that no data were attached to the email, because attached data would have avoided this ambiguity in identifying the requested information.

In your appeal you have clarified that you are seeking the URALS regional chronology, unfortunately there remains some ambiguity because the email refers to a future plan to produce such a chronology rather than to a chronology that had already been produced. Dr Osborn has explained to me that:

Regional chronologies have subsequently been produced from various data in the ‘greater Urals’ area of northern Siberia, and one of those might be based on the URALS group of trees referred to in the email.

Dr Osborn has provided the following further information on the approach he took in trying to locate whether the information you requested was held by us:

Although the request is (unavoidably) ambiguous with regard to which – if any – of our working files might contain the requested information, we did undertake a search for material that might match the request. We did not identify a file containing a single non-bootstrap regional chronology, and could not recollect that such a regional chronology had been produced from the group of trees identified as URALS in email 1146252894.txt. We did, however, identify a file that we believed to contain 1001 bootstrap estimates of a regional chronology derived from a URALS group of trees that were produced a few weeks after email 1146252894.txt was sent (note that this is deliberately described as “a” URALS group of trees rather than “the” URALS group of trees, since the definition of which group of trees form the basis for a regional chronology for this region has evolved over the course of this research).

The decision to proceed with the interpretation that the set of 1,001 bootstrap estimates of a regional chronology was the closest match to what had been requested was made purely in an attempt to be helpful to the requester and because the requester may not have been able to clarify his request anyway, given that the information that he sought does not have any precise identification.

In investigating your appeal a further search has been undertaken and it has become clear that the first time series out of the 1001 bootstraps is actually a single (nonbootstrap) chronology. However the ambiguity that remains around your request means that I cannot be certain that this single chronology is the one that you are requesting, nonetheless in absence of any other chronology I will assume that this is the one that you seek.

………………….”

Of course readers will immediately identify the difference in tone – reference to an “illegally obtained email”, etc., and the fact that in the case of Mr McIntyre’s request Dr Osborn was not readily able to identify what his 2006 email was referring to. Why, I wonder, do 2 identical requests result in two such different responses?

It must be the case that one must expect an identical request to receive identical treatment, particularly in the basic and preliminary context of identifying the information requested. In my view this is probably a manifestation of UEA’s documented approach that it should not be expected to comply with requests which are based, in my observations, on its assessment of the assumed motive of requesters of information – an entirely invalid consideration under the Regulations. Some will argue that this response is purely based on the fact that it was Mr McIntyre who was the requester of the information. The Regulations do in large part depend on public authorities openly responding to requests and if, as may be the case here, there is obfuscation operating within public authorities in response to requests that they don’t like, then where does that leave us? The Regulations provide numerous exceptions upon which requests can be refused and no-one has any argument about the fact that parties are entitled to make those arguments. What the Regulations do not do is allow a public authority to obfuscate on requests from people they do not like.

But what do we say about this situation? Is it the case that every requester that UEA may have suspicions about is destined to end up before the ICO? That approach is not compliant with the Regulations and is to be deprecated against the backdrop of a very clear and well implemented regime of public access to information held by public authorities. The FOI/EIR regime is now long established. What can be the justification for public authorities apparently treating identical requests differently based on who the requester of information is and what motives the public authority, rightly or wrongly, attributes to the requester? The Regulations are blind to motive for a reason. It is not the public authority’s concerns about disclosure that matter – at all. It is the right of access to information granted to the public at large that matters and UEA is setting itself up to be dragged kicking and screaming, at great cost to itself, into this reality. At some point this issue will be resolved, either by UEA, or by a judge – and at what cost to UEA’s reputation if it has to be by a judge?

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43 thoughts on “UEA's response to EIR/FOIA requests – It depends who you are

  1. It seems that the prevailing attitude of anything government or government related is “We’re here to make your life as difficult as possible” instead of the proper attitude of “How can we help you?” They need to be reminded who pays their salaries.

  2. Just when you think that they can’t lower the bar on ethics anymore, bang come UEA with more jiggery pokery, lowering the previous record.
    Makes one wonder if they’ve done anything straightforward or ethical so far.

  3. I think this says the opposite of what was intended: “they have shown a strong reluctance on the part of these publicly funded organisations to retain for their own benefit the work for which we have all paid.” Perhaps “reluctance” should be “desire”?

  4. when I visited England in July 2010, I contacted Osborn about meeting him in Norwich. He was away for 4 of the possible days. As to the possibility of meeting on the Friday, his response was, more or less, that he would be too busy clipping his toenails and reading the newspaper. (He said scientific papers, but the implication was clear.)

  5. I expect you didn’t mean to say this:
    “they have shown a strong reluctance on the part of these publicly funded organisations to retain for their own benefit the work for which we have all paid”

  6. UEA wrote to one of our MPs (A Miller) who is on the relevant House of Commons select committee on 13.7.2011 to assure him about how UEA was upping its game on FOI/EIR requests. That letter states:
    “Regular training courses are scheduled for all staff in the institution…” and “A training course on the requirements of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 has been developed and is targeted specifically at staff within the Faculty of Science (including the Climatic Research Unit).
    No doubt we will all benefit in due course?

  7. Neil and Roy – you are right of course. I meant to refer to their reluctance to disseminate information. Thank you. I will proof read in future, I promise.

  8. When you want to be able to keep your option of preventing publication of something as yet unknown in the future, or at least delay the publication until the furore dies down or a correction/retraction/mudification has been created, you need to never, ever respond quickly and clearly to any request. When you never reveal yourself, you cannot be said to treat someone in a non-cooperative way for purpose or even spite. Grumpy people don’t have to apologize to anyone but humanity for anything but a general attitude. The same goes for secretive organizations: “we’re just like that, it’s not personal”.
    Ex-PM Tony Blair famously said that the FOIA was a big mistake for the running of “good” government, indicating that transparency dissallows wiggling that might me good for relationships or future relationships between States. The same applies to all agencies in current or possible conflict with other agencies, personnel or – most importantly – their own reputations.
    As long as truth is the double-edged sword that it is, as long as saving face is as important to individuals and power-holders as it is, as long as there is benefit in a future re-telling of stories to improve one’s historical record, obfuscation, non-communication and the avoidance of having one’s laundry hung out for public display will be protected. This UEA vs The World case is part of that protection.
    Everyone makes mistakes but large but fragile egos – such as Jones, who claimed to have had a nervous breakdown over Climategate – cannot admit that they have made some, too. The necessity of following a legal route for an FOI request demonstrates egos-in-play. Yet, if Clinton couldn’t admit having sex with Ms. Lewinsky, could Jones et al at the UEA really be expected to admit to f********g with climate data?

  9. IF SOMEBODY (anybody) actually succeeds in getting anything out of these bureaucratic weasels, would they be free to share it, or bound by some confidentiality agreement?

  10. Of course, all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

  11. Really..after this, you could not lend credence to anything coming out of UEA (climate data anyway)

  12. “Is it the case that every requester that UEA may have suspicions about is destined to end up before the ICO?”
    Here is an analogous case described by tobaccoreporter.com (http://tobaccoreporter.com/home.php?id=498&art=4828).
    h/t Pat Nurse, http://patnurseblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/truth-is-to-be-hidden.html
    vvvvvvvvvvvvv
    PMI has backing of FoI watchdog
    Jul 18, 2011—Philip Morris International has been accused of harassing staff at a Scottish university and trying to sabotage their work on tobacco control by ‘misusing freedom of information (FoI) law’, according to a story by Tom Gordon for the Herald Scotland.
    Attempts by the company to obtain raw data from Stirling University’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research are said to have prompted a call for academic work to be exempt from FoI.
    But Scotland’s FoI watchdog last week ruled in PMI’s favor and ordered the university to change its stance.
    The company has been trying for almost a year to obtain details of a project about smoking and young people that concerns proposals that cigarettes should be sold in plain packaging.
    PMI asked the university to provide it with everything it held on the project, including notes of meetings and phone calls about it, the terms of reference, research methods, information on the ‘design and purpose’ of the study, any draft reports, and all the data collected.
    ^^^^^^^^^
    The request here was considerably more extensive and covers a much wider range of material than Steve McIntyre’s original request – yet was acceded to. It would seem to be a useful precedent (if it is a precedent). What, I wonder, would turn up if an FoI request of comparable scope was made to UEA in relation to Jones, Briffa, et al?
    FWIW my view is that in an age of postmodern (“post normal”) sciences, public inspection of the crucibles of policy-based evidence-making is going to be resisted on a case-by-case basis. We may consider the resources of academia fully elasticated for this contingency. The constraint would then be the various FoI Commissioners. When their back-log of cases stretches through to next Christmas, they may decide proactive measures are necessary.

  13. Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!

    Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)

  14. They simply dig the hole they are in ever deeper. Either their science stands up or it doesn’t. I suspect that their record keeping and databases are so chaotic that they can’t produce a properly ordered set of data.

  15. if the good folks receiving the request are unsure of whether you want 1 or 2, since is is alleged to be public information held by public employees at a public facility, why not send them both? Simple, problem solved. There will be ice floes in hell before they openly release the data.
    Frauds and Charlatans!

  16. @ Venter 8:46
    You start from the position that “everybody is moral.”
    Liars and cheaters are not “moral people” who just happen to have committed a lie; they lie and cheat because, at their deepest core, they are liars and cheaters. Liars and cheaters know that they are liars and cheaters, but cannot avoid lying and cheating because it’s who they are.
    There is no lower limit for what they will do to avoid a) being caught and b) having to admit to themselves that they are, in fact, liars and cheaters, because that would stain their self-image as something that society abhors. So they deny to themselves and others their lying and cheating, justifying their behavior as “moral” by of whatever twisted reason they need to believe. And the cycle spirals ever downward.
    After 20 years of public accounting, nothing shocks me anymore.

  17. Nuke,
    An Information Commisioner’s ruling or a judge’s decision that some piece
    of electonically transcribed or physically existing information or a troop of
    datasets to be puclic information means they are exactly that,
    available to the public without access restrictions.
    The British EIR and FOI laws don’t authorize the Information Commissioner
    or judges of a competent jurisdiction to issue a “conditional” or “restricted
    access” decisions or rulings once they’ve found the information clears the
    “exceptions” bar to open access that’s been built into the laws.
    If you have a chance, read and compare the recent ICO rulings on UEA and
    Queens College refusals to “share” data with reasonable EIR/FOIA requests.

  18. Richard Brearley I salute you, the kind of investigative journalism we used to expect from our much vaunted ‘free’ press.

  19. It’s behavior like this that makes me think of computer system crackers (hackers) with a deep sense of appreciation. Human nature supplied with power over others creates such intransigence that we are left waiting for that lone “crazy” in his mothers basement to by intent or by circumstance pop the balloons of the egos presuming to tell us all how to live.

  20. I have seen that ugly tone before: I requested the data from NCDC that thier climate station history of reporters referred to. The last reply, after being tossed about from responder to responder was “What was it you were looking for?”. i.e. – if you don’t already have a copy of the data in your hands, they aren’t going to look for items that might fit your request, and they are not going to offer any suggestions of where you might look.

  21. Considering (a) the time and effort that went into crafting lengthy non-responsive responses, and (b) the obvious fact that all these emails are going to be public record and document blatant noncompliance with FOI obligations leading to future costs and hassles, we are compelled to conclude that either these UEA chaps are idiots (highly unlikely) or they think have something to hide.
    But what? Shoddy data handling practices? Published uses of that data by the friends that would not withstand serious review by competent persons outside the high church climate clique? I refuse to beleive it all comes down to petty arrogance resulting in a petulant, unlawful refusal to be measured or examined in any way by those they do not regard as they peers.
    If one is right on the science (as the high church climate clique always claims to be) then the very best way to silence a critic is to produce the data and methods that clearly prove one right (or at least substantive). Who but ideologues or frauds need to circle the wagons in the face of data requests?

  22. if the good folks receiving the request are unsure of whether you want 1 or 2, since is is alledge to be public information held by public employees at a public facility, why not send them both? Simple, problem solved. There will be ice floes in hell before they openly release the data.
    Frauds and Charlatans!

  23. Bottom line , Phil Jones planned to avoid FOI request BEFORE he even got one , that really tells you much of what you need to know about CRU’s approach to such requests .

  24. From:
    http://theartofaccess.com/2011/04/03/a-year-later-attempts-to-weaken-illinois-foi-law-loom/
    A Year Later, Attempts to Weaken Illinois FOI Law Loom…
    Posted on April 3, 2011 by Charles N. Davis
    From the Chicago Tribune:
    A little more than a year after Illinois lawmakers rewrote open records laws promising a new era of transparency and accountability, frustrated mayors, school superintendents and police chiefs are back in Springfield, looking to undo many of the provisions………..
    ===========
    Nobody ever said transparency would be easy.
    Oh, and using the schools and police to weaken the laws is a nice touch.
    ==========
    Also found this at:
    http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/foi/?p=1373
    Excerpt:
    FOI Fail of the Week: Ill. bill that would hurt frequent FOIA requesters one signature away from law
    The Illinois legislature approved a bill that, if signed into law by the governor, would hurt the ability of frequent FOI requesters to get prompt responses from the government.
    According to House Bill 1716, people who make more than seven requests in a week, 15 in 30 days or 50 per year to the same public body would be considered “recurrent requesters.” Their requests could take up to 21 days for a response under the new rules if the bill becomes law.
    The bill also includes provisions for the addition of fees to commercial information requests that will take more than eight hours to complete, according to the State-Journal-Register.
    The bill doesn’t apply to members of the news media………….
    =====================
    Our last two governors have been sent / or are going to jail, and our elected officials have the gall to try to weaken the FOI laws.
    Rant/

  25. Last line of the post: “At some point this issue will be resolved, either by UEA, or by a judge – and at what cost to UEA’s reputation if it has to be by a judge?”
    Really Mr. Brearley, do you honestly think the lying, fraudulent UEA has a reputation left to tarnish?

  26. It seems clear to me that the UEA should either be closed in it’s entirety or converted to an agricultural college. If the so called climate scientists that work there want to continue to have a job, they will have to learn how to teach sheep shearing, and muck shoveling etc.

  27. Ron says:
    July 21, 2011 at 10:44 am
    if the good folks receiving the request are unsure of whether you want 1 or 2, since is is alleged to be public information held by public employees at a public facility, why not send them both? Simple, problem solved. There will be ice floes in hell before they openly release the data.
    Frauds and Charlatans!

    My thoughts exactly.
    What is the harm in sending too much information?

  28. @J Martin
    >”…teach sheep shearing, and muck shoveling etc.”
    So they can carry on much as before then?

  29. I have an idea for a climate wiki that would only allow edits from people with verified details and tracks all changes and notes , with a rating system that should if enacted correctly enable an open source climate science taht only permits facts that have been proven.

  30. J Martin says:
    July 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm
    “It seems clear to me that the UEA should either be closed in it’s entirety or converted to an agricultural college.”
    Why give perfectly good agricultural colleges, already existing in the county, a bad name by lumping the UEA in with them?
    I would probably have defended other departments at the UAE and pointed out that it is the CRU there that is at fault but the name Acton keeps jumping into my mind and thus soils the theory that other departments do good work there.

  31. What you must realise is that much UK university administration and the upper echelons of science has become filled by Common Purpose/Marxist activists whose apparent aim has been to to develop climate science as a new Lysenkoism, i.e. state sponsored science aimed at changing human perceptions of the state.

  32. Richard, I am the “other person” who along with Professor Jonathan Jones, of Oxford, won their appeal (fer_0280033) to the ICO for the release of the CruTEM data.
    I am still “in the running” for another appeal and would greatly appreciate your (legal) input in this matter.
    I’m sure that Anthony will pass on my contact details to you.

  33. Amongst the whole series of discreditable responses that Richard Brearley has been sent, there is one part of one reply that interested me.
    “We accept that your original request was not for the 1001 bootstrap composites (also referred to in the 2006 email), which was our initial interpretation.”
    Bootstrapping is a procedure commonly used by those who do not understand the bases of mathematical statistics when there is insufficient raw data`. It can be a very powerful tool. But it is only a valid process if the data are truly independent and there is no serial or other correlation. Any results that are based on bootstrapping are unsound unless such independence of data have first been ascertained.
    I do not know whether this applies to Dr. Osborn’s work but, if it does, I am not surprised that the UEA does not want to release the information.

  34. Over the years, I have learnt that people who are stuck in unrewarding and faceless careers generally have the ironclad habit of saying ‘No’ to any request from outside their employing organisation. It is their only shot at making a decision and wielding even the tiniest bit of power and authority. And they ardently, passionately love the heady feeling that ‘NO’ gives them; they will cling to it with all of their being. They resent, even hate, anyone who is free and can ask questions. .

  35. There is only ONE thing that motivates current academia and that is funding. UEA will continue to dodge its responsibilities while doing so does not threaten funding and allows CRU to continue. What should happen – but will not as nobody in government is interested – is that all government funded projects and all government funding to UEA should be stopped until full disclosure is made.
    Personally I wonder if any university that demonstrates such questionable ethics should retain its accreditation as a university, I know that I (and probably others) will look askance at any graduate from UEA as their ethics are similarly likely to be questionable.

  36. Why isn’t it all posted on the internet anyway? UEA could and should simply post the data on a website and be done it. Instead they waste resources trying to thwart the public interest.

  37. Thus is identified a friction between what those institutions consider to be their valid interests and what the Regulations provide

    It’s not even about that. It’s about what has been described as “the greatest problem mankind has ever faced”. Such a thing cannot be managed by secret science, where only people you like have access to data and methods. Secret science is nothing more than propaganda, plain and simple. As more and more of this gets exposed, the threat becomes less and less. Funny how that works. But I don’t find the shenanigans of these so-called scientists and institutes of higher learning funny in any way.
    I also find it greatly disturbing that so much attention is being paid to “phone hacking” for some tabloid journalism, but so little attention was paid to the leaked CRU emails, and the inquiries whitewashes which supposedly exonerated those involved.

  38. I’m not certain what is done at UEA but science does not appear to be among their activities …

  39. It is obvious that the UAE is hanging their responses on the slight ambiguity in the original email. One might say, clinging. The responses are carefully worded to introduce new ambiguities that will be exploited in future refusals.
    I note that in the reply to Dr McIntyre a seed of future refusal was planted with a reference to the fact that some of their data “was retained” and some was not, referring to the outputs of some processing. That is a deliberate ambiguity to be used in future obfuscation. It was of course worded in a way that you’d think it obviously referred to the output of processing raw data and that some of the outputs were retained and some were not. But, just wait. After a time it will be referred to as actually meaning (sorry for your misunderstanding) that the ‘raw data’ being sought was not really raw because it was an output of another processing exercise and was not retained, and that the real-real raw data was, yet again, not requested.
    This technique of planting in current communications the seeds of future denials and obfuscation is typical of the UAE based on what I read from them. If Dr McIntyre can work out exactly what to ask for, he will be told that it was not retained. It is clear that the Team is terrified of having their work examined by people who know how it should have been done.
    I really appreciate Solomon Green’s comment about the appropriateness (or not) of 1001 bootstraps to this type of analysis.

  40. Dr Osborn (the author of the 2006 email) from UEA has replied to this post at Bishop Hill and I am setting out here his post there and my reply.
    DR OSBORN’s RESPONSE:
    Richard Brearley,
    my understanding of your post is that you claim that identical EIR requests to UEA have been dealt with in non-identical ways, and that you infer from this that UEA were “apparently treating identical requests differently based on who the requester of information is and what motives the public authority, rightly or wrongly, attributes to the requester”.
    Your argument is undermined because you have claimed that the requests (and here I include the whole correspondence associated with each request) are identical. They are not.
    I would say that your initial request was very similar to Mr McIntyre’s. I would also say that the UEA response to both your initial requests was very similar. Thus no evidence of different treatment.
    Your request for an internal appeal differed significantly from Mr McIntyre’s. Your appeal indicated that you were requesting temperature data, whereas both initial requests appeared to be for tree-ring data and my recollection of Mr McIntyre’s appeal is that he was still requesting tree-ring data.
    Thus UEA have, so far, dealt with the appeals differently but not because of who made the appeals but because the appeals were different. I don’t understand why you claim that these were “identical”.
    I think it is entirely appropriate that UEA would request clarification from you when you initially appear to request tree-ring data and then appear to switch to temperature data. I don’t think that was necessary with Mr McIntyre’s appeal because it was clear that he was still requesting tree-ring data.
    Please note that I am giving my personal view, not any official view of UEA.
    MY REPLY:
    Thank you Dr Osborne for taking the time to comment here.
    Here is the text of Mr McIntyre’s request:
    Climategate email 684. 1146252894.txt of Apr 28, 2006 refers to a tree ring composite
    identified as follows:
    “URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other
    shorter ones).
    Could you please provide me a digital version of this series together with a list of all the
    measurement data sets used to make this composite, denoting each data set by ITRDB
    identification or equivalent. For the Polar Urals site, would you please identify the
    individual data sets used by ITRDB identification or equivalent. If any of the data is not
    in a public archive, please provide the measurement data.
    It would probably simplify matters if you also provided the measurement data used for
    the “URALS” chronology in a digital form.
    Here is the text of my request:
    I would be grateful to receive from you:
    1) A digital version of the series for the “group of trees” described in the email as
    “URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other
    shorter ones)”
    2) A list of all the measurement data sets used to compile this series “URALS”, including
    the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies and the shorter ones, with each data set
    denoted by ITRDB identification or equivalent;
    3) A digital version of the measurement data used in this series
    I used the term “group of trees” referred to as URALS since your email refers to groups of trees.
    Mr McIntyre is specifically referring to a tree ring composite identified as URALS and asked for a digital version of that series.
    I asked for a digital version for the group of trees called URALS.
    The requests are identical, save for the fact that Mr McIntyre used the term composite – I did not. Our appeals were exactly the same, I now know, based on the fact that we both stated that UEA had unilaterally decided the requests were for 1001 bootstraps which were not what was requested. (Also see my NB below).
    As far as what the email meant, well – you meant what you meant when you wrote the email, surely?
    The terms of anyone’s appeal are not relevant. You were asked by UEA (as it states in both refusal notices), to explain what you were referring to in the email – (not to explain in the context of any request, but to explain the email – I am quite willing to post this correspondence if necessary). You gave different answers on different occasions. Although I have framed my post in terms of different responses to identical requests (which I maintain to be the case), the simple reality is that what I might have written in my request or appeal or what Mr McIntyre wrote in his own are not decisive of what your email was referring to, some 5 years earlier.
    Your explanation, apparently without equivocation or qualification, in respect of my request was that URALS, as set out in your email, referred to:
    (1) A composite (more usually called a chronology) of selected treering measurements from this region.
    (2) A composite (more usually called an average) of temperatures measured by thermometers from this region.
    I didn’t even specifically ask for a composite – (the various terminologies, series, composite, bootstrap, are all lost on me). Mr McIntyre did specifically ask for a tree ring composite, in fact the very thing that you have stated in relation to my request was referred to by you in the email.
    And yet your explanation of the meaning of your email in respect of Mr McIntyre’s request has not referred to a composite – even though he specifically asked for this – but is, with respect, a statement full of uncertainty about what the email could have meant and a concurrent exposition of what it did not mean.
    NB. Please re-read my appeal – I refer to temperature because I am quoting your email referring to “temperature series” as a means of persuading UEA that you were in fact referring in the email to information identifiable by you at that time– the use of the words temperature did not “re-frame” my appeal, but were part of a rather bizarre process of persuading your university that you might have had something specific in mind when you wrote it.
    With regards,
    Richard Brearley

  41. CONTINUED:
    Apologies Dr Osborn – I neglected to add:
    You say:
    “I think it is entirely appropriate that UEA would request clarification from you when you initially appear to request tree-ring data and then appear to switch to temperature data.”
    Just to clarify – UEA did not seek any clarification relating to an apparent switch as you state. It refused the request without seeking any clarification (having made, without any consultation, a unilateral interpretation of the request as being for 1001 bootstraps). It was only in my appeal that I referred to its failure to comply with Regulation 9 which requires it to assist me in clarifying my request if it is considered ambiguous that it then sought clarification. The “switch”, as you call it, to temperature data is referred to above and was part of the appeal – not the original denied request.

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