Steve McIntyre: East Anglia Learns Nothing

  • Date: 03/06/10

In breach of calls for openness and transparency in climate science, the University of East Anglia, together with Eugene Wahl and Caspar Amman, have refused to provide documents critical to the inquiry that Muir Russell should be undertaking.

One of the most notorious Climategate emails was Jones’ request to Mann, Briffa, Ammann and Wahl that they delete correspondence pertaining to AR4 review, which included correspondence carried out between Eugene Wahl and Keith Briffa in violation of IPCC procedures. Jones even told FOI Briffa that Briffa “should say” that no such correspondence existed.

The Climategate letters contain references to attachments to Wahl’s surreptitious correspondence with Briffa, but the attachments themselves were not included in the Climategate documents.

On April 5, 2010, I sent an EIR (FOI) request to the University of East Anglia for the attachments (as well as an attachment of the Wahl and Ammann version used in the First Order Draft, sent to Briffa directly and not now available at IPCC.) My request was as follows:

Pursuant to the Environmental Impact Regulations, I request copies of the following documents (reference is attached to Keith Briffa letter):

Wahl_MBH_Recreation_JClimLett_Nov22.pdf (attachment mentioned in Jan 4, 2005 458. 1104855751.txt)
Wahl-Ammann_3321_Figures.pdf; Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb.doc – attachments mentioned in Feb 21, 2006 647. 1140568004.txt
Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb-Revision1.doc – attachment mentioned in 650. 1140838402.txt Feb 24
AW_Editorial_July15.doc; AR4SOR_BatchAB_Ch06_ERW_comments.doc; Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06_ERW_suggestions.doc – attachments to 716. 1153470204.txt July 18, 2006
Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_25jul06KRB-FJ-RV_ERW_suggestions.doc – attachments to 733. 1155402164.txt from July 27, 2006

Thank you for your consideration,
Regards, Steve McIntyre

On May 5, 2010, I received a response from UEA extending the response time

Further to your request for information received 5 April 2010, I am writing to advise you that we are, pursuant to Regulation 7(1) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, extending the statutory deadline for our response to your request from the 20 working days set out in Regulation 5(2) to the 40 working days allowed by Regulation 7(1). This will alter the deadline from 5 May 2010 to 2 June 2010. I apologise for the late notification of this extension but it was only this week that it became clear that we would require the extension.

This extension is claimed because of the age and relative obscure provenance of the information requested, we quite simply are having difficulty identifying and locating some of it. An initial search indicates that some of the information is not held but I wish to ensure that we have not overlooked any possible location prior to making that formal assertion.

It is my opinion that, at this particular time, it is impracticable to either comply with the request or to formulate any other response within the statutory period as set out in Regulation 5(2) We are addressing your request currently and I expect that we will be able to provide a substantive response in advance of the revised deadline.

Today, on the last day of the extension period, they refused virtually everything that I had requested.

Your request for information received on 5 April 2010 for a series of documents relating to the work of Professors Wahl and Amman has now been considered and some of the information requested is enclosed herewith. However, it is not possible to satisfy all elements of your request directly.

In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice, and I am not obliged to supply this information and the reasons for exemption are as stated below:
Exemption Reason

Reg. 6(1)(b), Information available
Some information is available elsewhere

Reg. 12(4)(d), Unfinished documents
Draft documents are unfinished documents

Reg. 12(5)(f), Adverse effects on person providing information
Release of the requested information, would have an adverse effect on the interests of third parties

Regulation 6(1) is cited because much of the information requested within several of the draft documents, particularly that pertaining to results, findings and interpretations is available within the final published version of the document and is therefore publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form.

In regards Regulation 12(4)(d), both ICO and DEFRA guidance indicates that a draft document is to be considered as an ‘unfinished document’ and this position has been upheld by a recent information Tribunal decision which stated that “However, the opinion of the majority and, ultimately our unanimous conclusion, is that the Draft Report is, by its very name and giving the words their logical meaning, an unfinished document. [1 – The Secretary of State for Transport v the Information Commissioner (EA/2008/0052, 5 May 2009), p.24, para.82]

We also cite Regulation 12(5)(f) as Professors Wahl and Amman have indicated, and we are minded to agree, that several documents were provided to this University on the understanding that they were not public documents and that release would have an adverse effect on future sharing of scientific information between researchers and would limit their ability to openly explore ideas and approaches in draft formats. They made it clear that they felt that the proper fora to access this information was by way of the completed version.

Pursuant to Regulation 12(1)(b), we must also apply a public interest test to any and all information excepted under Regulation 12 and this test must be applied as a whole to the entire request rather than exception by exception. It is our opinion that, in relation to the excepted material, the public interest lies in non-disclosure. Much of the requested information exists in the public domain in a finished format and no gain is to be obtained by the release of earlier, unapproved versions of the same material.

Further, there is a public interest in providing a space in which researchers can exchange ideas, theories and alternatives without fear that information or a position never intended for public release would be disclosed. There is also a public interest in ensuring that the information available to the public has been properly reviewed and assessed as takes place in the academic publication process. This lessens confusion the possibility that the public could be mislead or confused by earlier, less well-examined versions of the information.

Additionally, the intellectual property rights of the copyright holder in the final version are protected by ensuring that earlier, non-published versions of copyrighted work are not made available ‘in competition’ with the copyrighted version that the copyright holder has an expectation of making a profit from.

I would also add that any material released over which UEA has copyright is released subject to the understanding that you will comply with all relevant copyright rules regarding reproduction and/or transmission of the information released.

I’ll post up a longer chronology showing precisely where the Wahl correspondence fits into Climategate – Mosher and Fuller and touch on it in CRUtape but additional context has emerged over time. The Wahl correspondence was undertaken in direct contravention of IPCC rules and procedures. Briffa knew that the correspondence violated IPCC rules – the correspondence is marked burn-after-reading. It’s quite natural that Wahl and Ammann (and CRU) want to keep these violations secret.

I’m sure that Muir Russell panelist David Eyton of BP understands.

Climate Audit, 2 June 2010

 



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