Image from FOI2009.zip which contains the entire contents of the liberated CRU files, featuring the heads of well known scientists that smelled a rat, and who are detested by ‘Global Warming’ / ‘Climate Change’ / ‘Climate Chaos’ alarmists for telling the truth.
The CRU CLimate Gate affair continues to inform and outrage. With respect to FOIA requests, Home Educators will be familiar with this behaviour and bad, un-servant like attitude:
Professor Phil Jones, Director of the CRU, explains how he lobbied to overturn UEA’s FoI Officer’s instruction to answer FoI requests and schmoozed the person responsible for FoI appeals:
“When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions – one at a screen, to convince them otherwise showing them what CA [a popular "sceptic" website] was all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at UEA (in the registry and in the Environmental Sciences school – the head of school and a few others) became very supportive. I’ve got to know the FOI person quite well and the Chief Librarian – who deals with appeals. The VC [Vice Chancellor] is also aware of what is going on – at least for one of the requests, but probably doesn’t know the number we’re dealing with.”
Prof Jones’s colleague, Prof. Keith Briffa – who is a Reader at the CRU – spells out their attitude towards Freedom of Information quite neatly:
“I have been of the opinion right from the start of these FOI requests, that our private , inter-collegial discussion is just that – PRIVATE. Your communication with individual colleagues was on the same basis as that for any other person and it discredits the IPCC process not one iota not to reveal the details. On the contrary, submitting to these “demands” undermines the wider scientific expectation of personal confidentiality . It is for this reason, and not because we have or have not got anything to hide, that I believe none of us should submit to these “requests”.”
This is of course absolutely disgraceful behaviour on the part of these academics and their institution. They might have felt this was an imposition or an invasion, and they may have felt that their research should have been out of the grubby grasp of the general public, but the law is clear.
This is a rare insight into the attitude within many public bodies towards transparency, and the refusal to accept the principle of the FoIA is undoubtedly all too common. While the people and the media love FoI for the power it disseminates, those who have lost their privileged status still resent it deeply.
Even more serious than their appalling attitude is the instruction by Prof Jones to his colleagues to delete emails that are apparently subject to an FoI request.
On May 29th 2008, Prof Jones instructs colleagues to delete emails in a message helpfully titled “IPCC & FOI”:
“Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.”
AR4 is an IPCC report that Keith Briffa and others at the CRU worked on together, and at least one FoI request on exactly this correspondence had apparently been submitted by a David Holland on May 5th 2008.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 expressly forbids – on pain of criminal conviction – destroying information that has been requested under FoI. As the Information Commissioner puts it:
If information is held when a FOIA request is received, destroying it outside of your normal records management policies will result in a breach of the Act. You must confirm that you hold the information and consider disclosure, subject to any exemption. It will also be a criminal offence to conceal or destroy information if this is done with the intention of preventing disclosure under either FOIA or EIR.
This offence is punishable with a fine of up to £5,000.
Tellingly, another email from Prof Jones later that year shows that UEA’s internal FoI team had evidently become concerned about his secretive actions:
“I did get an email from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails”
If the FoI team were concerned that Prof Jones might be breaking the law – and even committing a criminal offence – on an area that they are legally responsible for, they should have reported him to the Information Commissioner. Perhaps his flowering relationship with the FoI officer and the Chief Librarian precluded this.
Happily, he’s never tried to become matey with us, so we’re reporting him and his colleagues to the Information Commissioner this afternoon.
Irrespective of how important your subject area is, what your views on the topic might be, or how much you dislike the person making the request, Freedom of Information is too valuable and too important to just be ridden over roughshod like this.
“Freedom of Information is too valuable and too important to just be ridden over roughshod like this.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I wonder what sort of dirty shenanigans went on over at the DCSF, who have refused to release information requested by some diligent and persistent Home Educators on the most flimsy of excuses? No doubt there are bombshell revelations hidden in their computers also, that if released, would cause scandals, heads to roll and misconceptions to be swept into the garbage, scuppering life changing legislation in the same way that the Global Warming / Climate Change ‘Carbon’ legislation would have done.
Once again, there is a common element to both the DCSF and the CRU refusal to release information; both of these organisations are intimately connected to the existence of the state, and in both, the people working there are not adopting the position of servants. The people who work at the DCSF are public servants, and scientists are in service to the truth, wether or not they take money from the state to do their work.
If there were no state, then there would be no problem with scientists making stuff up to steer policy and social engineer; there would be no apparatus to force their crackpot ideas onto anyone. The same holds true for education. Without a state, there would be no DCSF, Department of Education or any other apparatus to interfere with you and the good of education that you want too avail yourself of.
There is that foul smell again!