According to a report on TimesOnline, scientists at the University of East Anglia, the university at the center of the "climategate" scandal, violated the law by withholding information related to UEA's climate change research.
The report says that "The University of East Anglia breached the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to comply with requests for data concerning claims by its scientists that man-made emissions were causing global warming."
The report goes on to say that The Information Commissioner's Office concluded that UAE violated the FOIA, but that those responsible cannot be prosecuted because the complaint was filed too late. The Times says that the ICO is now attempting to change the law to allow prosecutions if a complaint is filed within six months of the violation.
Professor Phil Jones, director of UEA's climate research facility, temporarily stepped down from his post during the investigation. According to The Times, the findings by the ICO will likely make it very difficult for Jones to return to his former position.
The "climategate" scandal broke late last year, on the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Summit. More than 1,000 emails exchanged among climate scientists were either stolen or leaked by a whistleblower and posted on the internet.
In one of the emails, Jones asked a colleague to delete e-mails relating to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Jones also told a colleague that he had convinced UEA officials to ignore FOIA requests.
The Times has reported that the original complaint to the ICO was made by David Holland, a retired engineer from Northampton. Holland was seeking information to support his theory that the climate unit at UEA broke the IPCC’s rules in an attempt to discredit sceptic scientists.
“There is an apparent Catch-22 here," Holland said. The prosecution has to be initiated within six months but you have to exhaust the university’s complaints procedure before the commission will look at your complaint. That process can take longer than six months.”
In a statement, Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the ICO, said: “The e-mails which are now public reveal that Mr Holland’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation. Section 77 of the Act makes it an offence for public authorities to act so as to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information.”
This is the latest in a series of blows to the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Sceptics claim there would be no reason to withhold the raw climate data other than to hide findings that would show the science to be flawed.