Helping the Norfolk Constabulary With Their Enquiries
Along with a number of other people I received an email from the Norfolk police asking if I would mind asnwering some questions about CRUgate and the earlier, presumably related, FOI requests we made asking for the data.
After a little email toing and froing, the detective concerned called me today to ask me some questions. The chat was amicable and in some ways it is worth blogging just for that. DC Baker utterly failed to ask me for DNA (or indeed any form of identity whatsoever) and completely forgot to get a fellow officer along to play good cop/bad cop and threaten me. I have to say that while this has been my usual experience of British policemen, sometimes, such as when they ask my wife to stop photographing Liverpool St Station, I have my doubts about whether the police can remain worthy of the respect of the law-abiding* majority. So I glad to say that out in the wilds of Norfolk at least policemen seem to be worthy of our respect.
On the other hand the interview did start with my being asked questions about my date of birth, address and who my ISP was. These were, I was told, completely voluntary but "were on the form". I'm not at all sure what the latter one was for or why it was on the form.
But moving along slightly, to the topic of our discussion. Firstly I had semi-official confirmation that the "inundation" of FOI requests that the CRU/UEA complaiend about was no more than 60 or so and that many were, if not duplicates, asking very similar questions such that gathering the information for one would also have provided the information for others. In other words they weren't overwhelmed and if they actually had some kind of data management strategy beyond Phil Jones stuffing things at random into filing cabinets they could have responded without causing work for some secretarial folks. Worst case they coud have abused paid a grad student or two for a couple of days work.
Secondly it seems that the CRU's nobbling of Mr Palmer - the UEA's Information Policy & Compliance Manager - to get him to go along with the CRU's attempts to not respond have landed that gentleman in career limiting trouble. He may also be facing criminal charges I don't know whether his stonewalling will end up being considered to be in breach of the FOIA but they may well be, and unlike some other stonewalling documented by the emails, the six month time limit for allegations of FoI noncompliance to be reported will not have run out. His final response to me (for example) is dated 18 September 2009 and I'm pretty sure that it indicates FoI noncompliance. Furthermore I suspect that Mr Palmer and Dr Jones & co may well be facing charges like perjury because the document makes statements regarding the confidentiality agreements allegedly in place with various third parties which I believe have subsequently turned out to be utterly false.
Thirdly the police have apparently been told to call the original posting of the FOIA zip file a "data breach" and that most of the people asked incline to it being an inside job. Also, relatedly, it sounds like the inside job theory matched with the FOI stalling hypothesis leads us to an explanation of the timing of the release. In other words those frothing greenies who suggest that it was all intended to discredit Copenhagen are wrong.
Finally - and this is absolutely an impression - I get the feeling that UEA will come to regret (if they haven't already) getting the police involved. If any charges are brought regarding the "data breach" then I'm pretty sure the people charged will be UEA authorities/bureaucrats and CRU folks. In an odd way this is cheering news
PS I did ask DC Baker if he would mind my blogging about this call, he raised no objection
*Actually, given the various inane basturbationist laws inflicted on us by Westminster and Brussels we may in fact all be lawbreakers regarding the letter of the law but in spirit we aren't.