The UK Parliament was misled by East Anglia University when it conducted hearings into Climategate earlier this year, charges Graham Stringer, a scientist and prominent Labour Member of Parliament, in an article published yesterday in The Register, a UK science and technology journal.
Dr. Stringer, a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, was reacting to the release this week of the Russell Report on Climategate, which he considers a betrayal of an understanding that the Select Committee had with East Anglia University, home of the Climategate scandal.
As the Official Hansards of the Select Committee show, MPs believed that they needn’t examine the science in great detail following assurances from East Anglia that its own independent inquiries would serve that purpose. “I am hoping, later this week, to announce the chair of a panel to reassess the science and make sure there is nothing wrong,” the Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, Edward Acton, told the committee.
The first of the East Anglia inquiries, by Lord Oxburgh, did not do so and never intended to. As Oxburgh told Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit in an email, “The science was not the subject of our study.” Now that the Russell report is in, and it too underlines it never had any intention of examining the science, the snookering of the UK Select Committee is complete.
Dr. Stringer’s sense of betrayal is shared by the former chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Phil Willis, who in an interview with BBC on the Oxburgh report stated “Quite frankly, I couldn’t believe it. …There has been a slight of hand in that the actual terms of reference were not what we had been led to believe.” Other MPs feel as he does,
The call to reopen the Select Committee hearing arises because the Russell report failed to answer fundamental questions. Among these, Stringer told The Register: “Why did they delete emails? The key question was what reason they had for doing this, but this was never addressed; not getting to the central motivation was a major failing both of our report and Muir Russell.”
Although the Select Committee had stressed to East Anglia the importance of having open and independent inquiries, the hearings failed to oblige. The Russell inquiry, the last straw for Stringer, was held behind closed doors and heard only one side of the story. It failed to interview any scientist critical of the Climategate scientists; it failed to call witnesses who were the subjects of the emails, it failed to publish all the depositions, and its panellists could hardly be viewed as independent. One panellist, Geoffrey Boulton, was a climate change advisor to the UK and the EU; another, Richard Horton, had deemed global warming “the biggest threat to our future health.”
Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, July 11, 2010