As with the whitewash we saw when Penn State University investigated Climategate scientist Michael Mann, members of a science and technology select committee within the British Parliament cleared Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit at University of East Anglia, of wrongdoing. From the Guardian:
The committee did not condemn the actions of Prof Phil Jones, the head of UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) because it said he should have been better supported by the university in dealing with requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act. It added that the scientific reputation of Jones and the CRU was untarnished.
The committee’s report entitled “The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia,” said the focus on Jones and CRU in the row about the hacked emails had been “largely misplaced” and that, “on accusations relating to freedom of information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU”. In evidence to the enquiry, Jones admitted that he had sent some “awful emails.”
The British MPs conducted their investigation at least as shabbily as Penn State did with Mann, who has already been cleared on three of four allegations:
The MPs admitted that their enquiry into the emails was “limited” in its scope as only a single evidence session was held and the committee’s deliberations had to be rushed through ahead of the general election. However, it also concluded:
• There was no evidence to challenge the “scientific consensus” that global warming is induced by human activities.
• The balance of evidence “patently” failed to support the view that the phrases “trick” and “hide the decline” used by Jones in one email were part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that did not support his view. The report reads, “[Trick] appears to be a colloquialism for a “neat” method of handling data,” while “[hide the decline] was a shorthand for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous”.
• On peer review, “the evidence we have seen does not suggest that Jones was trying to subvert the peer review process” and academics should not be criticised for “informal comments” on papers, MPs said. However, Willis acknowledged that because of “lack of time” they were only able to scratch the surface of these allegations. The report recommends that this should be examined in detail by a separate review of CRU’s science being headed by Lord Oxburgh.
• The MPs were unable to look in detail at allegations that data had been deleted by Jones.
• The MPs expressed “regret” that the UK’s deputy information commissioner had made a statement saying, in their words, that “at least some of the requested information should have been disclosed” without his office having conducted a formal investigation. However, they agreed that there was a prima facie case for the university to answer and that the Information Commissioner’s Office should conduct an investigation.
• The report did not address the controversy over Jones’s 1990 Nature article, which used weather station data from China that has subsequently turned out to be deficient – and the allegations that Jones did not acknowledge these deficiencies in the paper.
Other than that, a complete investigation! But we all recognize that our guiding principles (as well as those of the Mother Country) dictate that thorough justice and transparent government are secondary in importance to the preparation for an election — right?