Lawrence Solomon: Climategate U loses bid to stifle critic

(April 10, 2011) The University at the center of Climategate scandal has lost a bid to silence one of the UK’s most prominent global warming skeptics.

The University of East Anglia of Climategate fame – scene of the embarrassing emails that disgraced the global warming cause – has once again been embarrassed, this time through a failed attempt to silence one of the UK’s most brilliant – and biting – global warming sceptics.

James Delingpole, a take-no-prisoner blogger with the Daily Telegraph, has been a relentless critic of the university and the professor at the heart of the scandal, Phil Jones. In an attempt to curb Delingpole’s blog posts, the university lodged a complaint with the UK Press Complaints Commission, an independent body. The Commission’s decision, just out, is a crushing repudiation of the university’s attempt to manage dissent that could strike a blow for free speech everywhere.

The Commission summarized the university’s complaints thus: “In particular, the complainants were concerned that the blog posts described Professor Phil Jones as ‘disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing’. They explained that Professor Phil Jones had been exonerated of any dishonesty or scientific malpractice by a series of reviews.  They were concerned that a second blog post repeated accusations that had been demonstrated as untrue, concluding that the University’s scientists were ‘untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions’, and a third blog post referred to the scientists’ work as ‘shoddy’ and ‘mendacious’.

It then ruled: “The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware that the comments therein represented the columnist’s own robust views of the matters in question. … The Commission has previously ruled [North v The Guardian] that ‘In the realm of blogging (especially in cases touching upon controversial topics such as climate change), there is likely to be strong and fervent disagreement, with writers making use of emotive terms and strident rhetoric.  This is a necessary consequence of free speech. The Commission felt that it should be slow to intervene in this, unless there is evidence of factual inaccuracy or misleading statement.’

To see the succinct UK Press Complaints Commission decision, click here.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers. LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com.

 

About Lawrence Solomon

Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada's leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s and became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life. An advisor to President Jimmy Carter's Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970's, he has since been at the forefront of movements to reform foreign aid, stop nuclear power expansion and adopt toll roads. Mr. Solomon is a founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation and the executive director of its Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute divisions. He has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the editor and publisher of the award-winning The Next City magazine, and the author or co-author of seven books, most recently The Deniers, a #1 environmental best-seller in both Canada and the U.S. .
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