Thursday, January 28, 2010

UEA guilty but no punishment

The Guardian today reports that UEA violated FOI rules but it was too late to prosecute:

The University of East Anglia flouted Freedom of Information regulations in its handling of requests for data from climate sceptics, according to the government body that administers the act.
In a statement, the deputy information commissioner Graham Smith said emails between scientists at the university's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) that were hacked and placed on the internet in November revealed that FOI requests were "not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation".
Some of the hacked emails reveal scientists encouraging their colleagues to delete emails, apparently to prevent them from being revealed to people making FOI requests. Such a breach of the act could carry an unlimited fine, but Smith said no action could be taken against the university because the specific request they had looked at happened in May 2008, well outside the six-month limit for such prosecutions under the act.
It also reports that people who cannot be said to be skeptics have expressed their doubts about CRU and the alleged practices. The Guardian quotes Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment at the London School of Economics:
I think that anybody reading the emails that have been posted online will have concluded that some of those showed an intention to avoid complying with the FOI. I always thought that those emails were the most damning.
Of course, the proviso remains: we will see if people have been  misquoted ;-)


haraldbange said...

"Of course, the proviso remains: we will see if people have been misquoted ;-)"

What is that supposed to mean?

If you are talking about the e-mails, how can a verbatim transcript be "misquoted"?

Misunderstood, out of context but under no circumstances misquoted.

And then, "we will see"? Where is this future enlightenment going to come from?

What a clueless statement.

Marco said...

I think Harald Bange needs a box of Kool-aid...: Reiner Grundmann refers to the recent flurry of poor quotes in newspapers. In other words, the comment is aimed at the supposed quotes from Smith and Ward.

Werner Krauss said...

By the way, Reiner, do you know if those who hacked the server ever were caught and punished?
Another thought: it would be interesting to reveal (or 'hack') the real names of some of those anonymous bloggers who blame or denounce other people. Maybe we would find some prominent names among them?

@ReinerGrundmann said...

No one has been charged with this yet. The National Domestic Extremist Team has joined Police forces in the investigation. Bishop Hill has had many posts about developments, e.g.
He claims that many statements in the past days have used the term leak instead of hack.
What exactly do refer to when saying that anonymous bloggers are denouncing other scientists?
The identity of most people with serious ocntributions are known. Of course, you do get a rant from those who want to let some steam off -- but these are the least interesting comments, as everyone knows.

Werner Krauss said...

Leak or hack, that makes a difference, indeed. Thanks for the link to bishophill; that's so weird, isn't it? And you are right; for example, McIntyre signed his post with his real name.

Anonymous bloggers: I had this quote from a spiegel-online interview with Jaron Laniers in mind, who complains about the 'bullying' culture in blogs etc:

Lanier: 'Die Anonymität spielt eine große Rolle. Wer anonym ist, muss keine Konsequenzen fürchten und erhält dennoch unmittelbare Genugtuung. Da wird ein biologischer Schalter umgelegt, und es entsteht eine richtige Meute.'

Blogs invite to blame someone in public; it's fun, strange fun, manhunt. Maybe I was wrong, but recently I complained about exactly this when there was a debate here on klimazwiebel concerning a quote by Murari Lal. It's a fine line between legitimate interest to know something and bullying someone. I just had to think about how easy it is do destroy someone's reputation, and how much fun that is for some people. To pillory someone, protected by anonymity.

Of course, everybody only wants to reveal the truth, and for sure this was the case here. And of course everybody is aware that he or she is talking about real people with real jobs and lives. I just had to think about it.