Feeds

'Is this science, or literature?'

MPs mull 'climate enquiries' that failed to enquire

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Might the University of East Anglia now rue its handling of the Climategate affair? An MP tells us that the University has ignored instructions given to it by the House of Commons Science Committee earlier this year, and MPs were given misleading impressions.

"Everybody on the Committee last time asked that there be no gaps between our report, and the Muir Russell report and the Oxburgh Report - but there are huge gaps. The Muir Russell people and the Oxburgh people didn't talk to each other, so there were bound to be gaps," says Committee veteran Graham Stringer MP. "We are left with the science left unlooked at."

The allegations of misconduct and intellectual corruption raised by the release of the emails, data and source code last November are amongst the most serious British academia has ever heard. UEA responded with two internal enquiries, but MPs won't let it lie. Members on the Commons Science Select Committee have summoned the two chairmen of the UEA enquiries back for further interrogation. At the first of these yesterday, the chairman of the Science Assessment Panel, Lord Ron Oxburgh, puzzled Committee MPs with his answers.

How the Panel was formed

When the University announced the composition and role of the Science Assessment Panel, it billed it as an "independent internal reappraisal of the science". In March the University's Vice Chancellor Lord Acton confirmed the impression, telling the select committee that Oxburgh's enquiry would "reassess the science and make sure there is nothing wrong".

That was misleading, Oxburgh told MPs yesterday.

"I think that was inaccurate ... You have to bear in mind the Vice Chancellor had been in the post for a month or so. It came as rather a deluge."

Oxburgh pleaded time pressure.

"They wanted something within a month. There was no way our panel could in that time validate the science. If you wanted the science validated, you'd appoint another panel.

"We were meeting a deadline to help the University with a particular problem. Given our particular remit I don't think we needed any more time."

Oxburgh was proud that he'd used a non-confrontational approach. The CRU academics were interviewed just once, collectively, in private, and he'd rejected calls for televised proceedings. As Oxburgh described it, the enquiry sounded more like a health spa program for stressed executives.

"People wanted to bring television cameras in. Given the nature of the individuals concerned, we felt that we would get much more out of them, and get them to unwind and relax, and if indeed if they had chinks in their armour, to expose them, that if we did this in a much more relaxed way.

"Certainly one of the key people there is someone who is pretty highly-strung - and I think we were able to get him to relax and explain things."

MPs were stone-faced at this. Oxburgh developed a nasty cough. So what had been the purpose of his enquiry?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next page: Oxburgh at work

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.