FOI victory against Phil Jones, CRU, and UEA

Excerpts from Bishop Hill: A major FOI victory

This post is a jointly written effort by myself and Don Keiller.

Readers may remember the Information Commissioner’s ruling last year that UEA had to release the CRUTEM data sent by Phil Jones to Peter Webster at Georgia Tech. This had been requested by Jonathan Jones and Don Keiller.

This ruling was obviously very welcome, but in fact it was not the end of the story. UEA had put forward an argument that CRUTEM data was held under agreements with national meteorological services and could not therefore be disclosed to outsiders. Along with his request for the data, Keiller had therefore also requested the covering email that Phil Jones had sent to Webster, which should presumably contain caveats about reuse and disclosure. However, when the Information Commissioner ordered UEA to release the data,  UEA’s non-disclosure of the email was upheld, on the grounds that the information was, on the balance of probablilities, ‘not held’.

However, by the time of the ICO’s ruling, it was clear that CRU had its own backup arrangements – the CRUBACK3 server that was at the centre of the Climategate affair – and it was therefore fairly clear that the email did still exist. UEA were in essence trying to argue that since it was no longer on Phil Jones’ hard drive, it was no longer legally ‘held’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), regardless of its presence on the backup server. Keiller therefore decided to appeal the ICO’s decision to the Information Tribunal. Firstly he had to provide new prima-facie evidence to support the appeal to an internal ICO Appeals Panel, who decide whether there are grounds for an appeal.

 

The tribunal looked at three questions:

  • Is it more probable than not that the email sent on or about 15 January 2009 by Professor Jones to Georgia Tech attaching datasets was backed up onto and retained on the Climate Research Unit’s (CRU’s) back-up server prior to this server being taken by the Police?
  • Is it more probable than not that the e-mail contained ‘any instructions or stipulations accompanying the sending of datasets’?
  • Is there a valid argument that a back-up of an e-mail retained after the original had been deleted from the computer on which it was composed is not ‘held’ for the purposes of the EIR?

The hearing started with Jonathan Colam-French (Director of Information System at UEA) providing evidence about the procedures in place to record, manage and dispose of staff emails. Unfortunately for UEA, the systems described by Mr Colam-French were not in place at the time Jones sent his email to Georgia Tech, a fact uncovered by the otherwise ineffective Muir Russell Report.

In their decision the Tribunal made some pointed remarks about UEA’s evidence, stating that:

The Tribunal were rather disconcerted by the evidence adduced by the UEA on [Question 1]. Jonathan Colam-French had almost no knowledge of the CRU’s back-up system and was simply unable to answer several pertinent questions…

and

…we noted the complete lack of evidence about anything resembling a coherent deletion/retention policy for emails.

On this basis, the tribunal reached their first ruling, namely that the email was more than probably still on the backup server.

UEA are now required to approach the Police to see if they will provide a copy of the email in question, and to see if they or someone else will extract it for them. (As another aside, we might note that copies of Jones’ emails and indeed those of Keith Briffa and Tim Osborn have already been provided to the Russell inquiry. I wonder what happened to those copies of the emails or if UEA also received a copy?).

So, the key outcome of this case is that a further precedent has been set. That precedent is that UEA’s refusal to release information on the grounds that under EIR Reg. 12(4)(a) – Information not held, is no longer valid. Backup servers have to be searched.

Full story at Bishop Hill: A major FOI victory

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Dave

I only have one thing to say… yessss!!!!

onlyme

One small win for a man, one giant win for humankind.

pat

Try that excuse if you are an accountant or the President of publicly traded corporation.It will land you 5 years in jail.

Bit by bit the walls come down.

patrioticduo

I see a small snow ball accelerating down a very slippery slope.

bwanajohn

Put out an appeal to FOIA. He/she probably has it and that is probably quicker route.

manicbeancounter

“The Judge agreed, saying that counsel for UEA were making “bold assertions”, but these were “unsupported by evidence”.”
Were counsel for UEA moonlighting climate scientists?

MrJW
Nick Shaw

Drip. Drip. Drip. It’s kinda’ like torture but, with a happy ending! Well, for us anyway 😉

Resourceguy

Where are all the thought police on this one to justify stonewalling the FOI body of laws up to this point? Chalk this is up as another downside to the concept of settled science and end of the debate.

Rattus Norvegicus

In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.

Henry chance

Stonewalling will continue. They will keep playing games. I don’t see punishment or penalties.

Rob Crawford

“In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.”
Then why did they fight this request?

richard

i feel a little drink is in order to celebrate, not that i did anything , well I did read the article.

jeanparisot

Backup servers everywhere just got unplugged.

Wade

What are the chances that an “accident” will destroy all backups?

kwik

Rattus Norvegicus says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
“In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind. ”
Yes, well, you are not exactly on the side of the people either. You support The Big Green, right?. Maybe you work for them? Some Government backed institution in Norway, perhaps?

matthu

The victory is the precedent that has been set i.e. that deletion from a personal PC can longer be relied upon as an excuse that the data or correspondence is no longer “held”. (This victory may also affect other pending appeals since I believe UEA have relied on this excuse before.)

Anthony Scalzi

Rattus Norvegicus says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.

This particular case was about more than just the data. CRU was trying to claim that because the scientists in question had deleted emails off their personal computers, they didn’t have to supply them, even though the emails still exist on the back up server, which is conveniently(?) in police custody.

Doug UK

Agree with Pat.
“pat says:
January 23, 2012 at 10:37 am
Try that excuse if you are an accountant or the President of publicly traded corporation.It will land you 5 years in jail.”
As for the victory being small or large to a rat – I say “Am I botherred?” (which is a UK sort of funny bi-line for those not in the UK) – The main point is that an incredible series of barriers were put up to stop the truth from being revealed.
Even in the court, three distinct and interlinked hoops had to be fought whereby failing on any one single point would mean the truth manipulators would have succeeded once again.
SO! whatever the size any one thinks this victory is on its own does not matter a damn.
That snowball is gathering speed on its run down off its ivory tower.

David, UK

Henry chance says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
Stonewalling will continue. They will keep playing games. I don’t see punishment or penalties.

My thoughts EXACTLY. Why should these snakes and fraudsters be allowed to continually treat this like some sort of “catch me if you can” sort of game and not be threatened with incarceration for obstruction of the FOI act?
On the plus side, their relative safety from the long arm of the law may be intact for now, only because they are acting at the pleasure and support of the liberal political powers of the day. But the colour of the politics of power can flip like the magnetic poles. I can just imagine how nervous these crooks will be if constitutionalist Ron Paul gets in at the next election.

Yarmy

Rattus Norvegicus says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.

So why waste money fighting the case?

Robert M

I believe that at the end of the day, the information that CRU, Jones, and Co. are trying to hide will never see the light of day. If they lose in court, an “accident” will occur.
As for Rattus telling us that the info is in the public domain, that simply will not do, whatever information was voluntarily put in the public’s view has been whitewashed to death.
It is obvious to any casual observer that The team has played fast and loose with the rules, and that they have been enabled by their employers to keep the cash rolling in. Taxpayer cash. The taxpayer would like to see what we paid for. All of it!

DirkH

Rattus Norvegicus says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
“In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.”
A “victory”? You don’t support Freedom Of Information, as no warmist does, so why do you call it a victory?

Rattus Norvegicus says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.
#####################
Rattus. Throughout this whole process your sides opinion on things has been wrong far more times than it has been correct.
The significance of this ruling has nothing whatsoever to do with the data. It has to do with
our access to the mails that have been deleted but still exist on the CRU backup server held by the police. One wonders why the police still hold the server. One wonders why CRU hasnt asked for a copy of the mails held by the police.
The answer to that is simple. CRU want the police to hold the server. That way CRU can deny any requests for mails on that server. That ploy has just been shot out of the water.
More to come. CRU defenders have been so wrong about so many things FOI related that you should just keep quiet.
Or perhaps we can test your claim that this ruling doesnt mean anything by requesting some more documents on that back up server. care to bet? wanna keep this story alive for another 4 years.

I’m still trying to get this all straight in my mind (assuming I have one).
1. Phil Jones stated that the data no longer exists, it having disappeared on Tom Wigley’s watch.
2. Phil Jones said that he would destroy the data, rather than share it with [climate realists].
3. The Met Office has stated that recreating the data would cost some millions of pounds.
4. Phil Jones has shared the data with at least one third party.
5. Phil Jones has said that the data cannot be shared with any third party because of NDAs.
6. The data has been sitting on a Met Office server since July 2011.
How is all of this true if all these statements refer to the same dataset?

Gary Hladik

Rattus Norvegicus says (January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am): “In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.”
If it was a moot point, then UEA really screwed up by fighting it, losing, and setting a legal precedent for later (and possibly more important) requests.

James Reid (from Arding)

Hellooooo….. LazyTeenager you out there? What say you? How do you explain/rationalize this behaviour?
“bwanajohn says:
January 23, 2012 at 10:56 am
Put out an appeal to FOIA. He/she probably has it and that is probably quicker route.”
It crosses my mind that this might be amongst the emails contained in the “locked up insurance policy” released along with CG2?

@ pompousgit
‘How is all of this true if all these statements refer to the same dataset?’
Exactly; something smells!

mikemUK

Rattus might talk about a ‘small victory’, but even he knows it wasn’t small.
Messrs. Keiller and Holland, as ‘laymen’, take on both the ICO and a mob-handed UEA presence and win?
Outstanding achievement, gentlemen!

Berényi Péter

The Judge agreed, saying that counsel for UEA were making “bold assertions”, but these were “unsupported by evidence”.
Gosh. The method used to work so well in science. What could possibly go wrong? Are these legal people really untouched by post-normal standards? Is it not the case that only deniers are trying to look for evidence where a clear consensus is declared to exist? How can a denier get appointed as judge in a sensitive case like this in the first place? Someone surely has to be held responsible and get exposed to the bones for it. Anyway, occupy the courts and make sure it gets proper media coverage.
/off whatever

Rosco

I didn’t think the raw data was the issue anyway but the procedures and analysis used to “coerce” the raw data into the results sets that show “unequivocal evidence” of “unprecedented” warming.
I thought this was the real issue because many well qualified but “non team” scientists tried in vain to reproduce Jones’ results using the raw data and simply requested his assistance to do the most fundamental scientific investigation into ANY theory – verify the claimed results by independent.
As I remember it was then Jones started all his obfuscations – he was a genius but untidy, his office records were a mess, he couldn’t find the stuff anymore – it may have been deleted, it has been deleted, it doesn’t exist.
This is the issue – an analysis of raw data producing results that cannot be independantly reproduced.
To my way of thinking rhis is tantamount to gross scientific fraud – scientific results that cannot be independantly verified are not science – and this needs to be followed to the bitter end no matter whether Jones is right or wrong – it needs independant verification.
My bet is there is another “hide the decline” type trick hiding beneath this sordid tale.

It’s really rather bizarre to hear them complain in public that FOI requests are repeated and intrusive. The only reason they are repeated is they keep getting knocked back. The only reason they are intrusive is that the reasons for the knock-backs refer to increasingly obscure and unverifiable details. The only way to get anything at all from the charlatans is by both repeated and intrusive FOI requests.
Long may the war of attrition continue, and may it be eventually fruitful.

Mark Johnson

Another step on the journey that will eventually lead to Dr. Michael Mann brought to justice.

KnR

Rattus Norvegicus says (January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am): “In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.”
The NDA’s they claimed existed which stop them releasing the data in the first place seem to be as easy to find as fairy’s in the bottom of the garden . And the data on the available does not cover the e-mails which were sent which should support the claimed NDA’s , if they existed in the first place. In other words was Jones lying when he claimed there were these NDA’s in first place .

Peter Miller

Is it just possible that climate scientists have not been completely frank and open with us, possibly even a tad deceitful, misleading and dishonest?
No, perish the thought, how could that possibly be?
Climate scientists are backed by honourable politicians such as Al Gore and Chris Huehne, so how could anything they possibly say, or do, be rotten to the core?

GeoLurking

bwanajohn says:
January 23, 2012 at 10:56 am
“Put out an appeal to FOIA. He/she probably has it and that is probably quicker route.”
And probably not admissible should it come down to convicting and incarcerating these (in my opinion) FELONS.

It’s not exactly true that all the data have released. The data are in numbered folders from 1 to 91. The numbers ‘jump’ 12 times implying that each time data from a country is missing. The one country I have indentified with no data is Australia.

David L

Why did (does) UEA fight all this nonsense? Something doesn’t make sense with all this. I can’t put my finger on it though…,

markus

By knowing that I know, a proclamation is made.
Arrheniushansenous has been slain, by the hand of a man.
Rejoice, for the fear of climate is no more.
The most powerful force in the universe, is the reasoning of a man.
Markus Fitzhenry.

Philip Peake

@Rattus: I would have thought that you would appreciate that its not whether its a large or small “victory”, its a matter of principle.
Its totally unacceptable to have anyone (pro or anti AGW) lie and hide information. That is what this was really about, not any data itself or really the constraints put upon the distribution of the data by its owners. Although, I strongly suspect that we will find no such constraints when the email is eventually “found” — which is probably why Phil Jones has studiously avoided saying anything under oath.
You have to understand that I, and a lot of people like me, started off believing in AGW. Maybe not so much in CAGW… But became “unbelievers” due to seeing stated “facts” exposed as misrepresentation (being kind … or lies, being more truthful), and herculean efforts to suppress access to conflicting data – or even what is supposed to be confirming data. Then there are the huge amounts of money being extracted from people on the basis of this. Taxing people to death is not the only way to solve a problem.
An open display of all the evidence just might turn some of us unbelievers back again, but while evidence is hidden, and millions of dollars is spent on trying to keep it secret, our doubts about the validity of the arguments and the “science” only grow.

I first read this on His Grace’s site and thought very carefully about what what the full decision of the Tribunal meant.
This decision is like the faintly sparking fuse which is disappearing into the barrel of gunpowder. In itself, the decision might not seem to be important; what is important is the irrevocable legal precedent which it has set under the UK’s FOI Act.
The explosion has not yet happened, but it is now unavoidable.

Goody Haroldson

These guys are hiding behind technicalities. It is a despicable and dishonest way for a “public servant” to behave. This is not a private corporation with IP to protect. It is supposed to be a public institution doing work for the greater good of the public. What possible, what possible, reason could there possibly be to not fully disclose everything other than hiding something sinister?

Rattus Norvegicus says:
January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am
In case you guys didn’t know, the CRU data was released (and is available on the Met Office site) last July. That makes this a rather small victory in my mind.
=================================================
NOT AT ALL !!!
A precedent has been set for future FOI requests !!

Septic Matthew

This is good news.

Former Forecaster

It seems the courts are starting to get weary of the globalwarmists’ crap. It’s about time.

Ron Manley said @ January 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

It’s not exactly true that all the data have released. The data are in numbered folders from 1 to 91. The numbers ‘jump’ 12 times implying that each time data from a country is missing. The one country I have indentified with no data is Australia.

Oh dear! Is that why I have only been able to ripen my tomatoes with a greenhouse the last few years? Australia no longer has temperatures! This government must go. Australia needs temperatures. Etc.

Ross Brisbane

The backfire effect begins. By seeking out such let us say we seek from Watts Up all email correspondence and data regarding an attack on a certain scientists calling their work fraud and of ill repute.
Our purpose although not stated or implied is to get this information and cherry pick the bits of information so we can mitigate the intended action and consequence of our finding.
The myth of Phil Jones continues even to this day. The data is corrupt and used to support a global movement of thousands of scientists being Socialist and Marxist wanting to re-engineer politics. The myth which has been proven incorrect time and time again by other data collections globally and by calculations by so many INDEPENDENT gathers of climate data of ALL political persuasion to utterly be in AGREEMENT with some climate gathering place in England. The myth perpetrates without any new evidence. The smoking gun cannot be found. The only fruit of this is ruined careers, broken men, expensive litigation and hallow victory dripping with vengeance and hate.
The truth is thus: This is a vendetta. The scene: Phil Jones being in the same room with Anthony Watts being demanded information from each. What say these gentlemen when pushed, shoved and accused of fraud like this?
“He who is without sin throw the first stone”.
I see all those clean hands and hearts running froward to crucify.
As one anti-warmer with hands sullied and dripping with oil investment deals said: round them up as criminals, meet out the justice and execute those for those with crimes against humanity.
Thus the trails begin in full earnest. We need to rid this world of this witchcraft. How dare they tell of back omens and we are going to have to change.

Rhoda Ramirez

Speaking of FOIA issues: When do Mann’s UVA e-mails get released?

A C of Adelaide

Call me a pessimist but ….
My reading of this is that they still have to get the emails off the police.
I’m betting that that will never happen. Not without another court case to extract it from there.
There is just too much at stake here for the stone-walling to end now.