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« Still howlin' | Main | Climate models hopelessly simplistic »

The Holland redaction

This is a guest post by David Holland.

Late last Friday afternoon, the University of East Anglia released some further information that should be of interest to anyone who has followed the minutiae of Climategate.

There is, for instance, a breakdown of the costs of the Russell Review at the end of the response letter. However, of most interest to me, and bearing directly upon the “rigour and honesty” of the Russell Review and UEA’s scientists, is Professor Boulton’s email of 6 May to Professor Briffa. This email (in the zip file here) concerned Briffa's work on the IPCC AR4 Report and the assistance he had received from Eugene Wahl. In his email, Boulton asks Briffa to reply to my allegation that the deadline for cited papers to be “in press” was changed to allow the citation of the Wahl and Ammann 2007 paper, which had missed the original deadline. Without it, IPCC WGI would have had to record the fact that the last word in the peer-reviewed literature was that the Mann et al “hockey stick” studies were invalidated by McIntyre and McKitrick.

Boulton states that, “A detailed account on which this allegation is based has been presented to us and is given in the annex to this letter”. He does not, however, mention who presented the allegation.

You can compare Boulton’s annex to my original submission to the Russell Review, a link to which is now provided at the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee website. Clearly Boulton’s annex is a heavily redacted edit of my submission although it contains no hint that it is.

First of all, the paragraphs 1–39 and 94–131 had been removed entirely. Then, the remainder was further edited, with both full paragraphs and part paragraphs removed. Next, the paragraph numbers were removed from my document, and the remaining text was run together. These changes made it impossible for the reader to know that they were not seeing the original submission and also made it very difficult to cite the text. Finally, to further change the meaning of my submission, all 30 of the footnotes were removed. I should say at this point that I have no idea who did the editing – perhaps it was one of the two firms of lawyers they engaged.

So long as they could honestly claim that they never saw my original submission, this anonymised and drastically edited submission would have excused Briffa and Osborn if, in their joint reply, they stated things that were untrue and contrary to the clear evidence in my full submission. Certainly, UEA seem to give the impression that this edited version of my submission was all that they had seen. In reply to my information request to know who at UEA had access to my submission to the Russell Review, UEA’s David Palmer wrote:

“The University never received directly a copy of your submission to the Russell Review. We only had access to the information included with Prof. Boulton’s letter to Keith Briffa.”

I do not doubt that Mr Palmer has been told this and believes it to be true, but as we shall see, it is unlikely that this is true an; electronic copies of my submission were almost certainly held at least by Briffa and/or Osborn.

First of all, in their reply to Boulton, Osborn and Briffa state:

“Given that virtually every statement in this Annex requires correction of some error of fact, interpretation or implication we believe it to be essential that our responses to these specific allegations as contained in the Annex are formally recorded. Our detailed responses are provided in the form of annotations, added where appropriate, in the accompanying version of the Annex. These are a fundamental part of our response and we ask that the Review Team consider them carefully in conjunction with the more general remarks given below.”

Note that Briffa/Osborn refer to a “version of the Annex”. This indicates that the two men knew that there were different versions of my submission. In addition, in Osborn and Briffa's version of Boulton’s annex, my original paragraph breaks have been reinserted and the paragraph numbers (with 52 incorrectly stated as 54) have also reappeared. How could Osborn and Briffa, or whoever produced this version, know that Boulton’s Annex started only at my paragraph 40? How did they know where all the correct paragraph ends were if they did not have my original submission in front of them? As if this were not enough, eight of the footnotes that had been removed from the Boulton version had magically been reinserted in the Osborn and Briffa version. How could this happen?

The only credible conclusion I can think of is that Briffa and/or Osborn – and the whole “Hockey Team” – had my submission soon after I submitted it and probably someone made covert legal threats of action if it were to be published as is. Possibly Boulton’s Annex was the negotiated redacted version, but Briffa/Osborn had already started answering my full submission.

Either way, UEA's claim that they only had access to the information in Boulton's letter to Briffa appears to directly contradict the evidence.

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Reader Comments (75)

more UEA high-jinks, no wonder their memories are fudged.

The yoof of today, pscientists of tomorrow :^)

Nov 23, 2010 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete

Rechecked using another website. I have found the 22 Feb 2006 Briifa email but not a 01 Mar 2006 email.

Nov 23, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Try 1141267802.txt which is the only one I can find from Briffa on March 1st. There are a couple of others where Briffa or Osborn are recipients, including 1141246541.txt from Rahmstorf which discusses the problem of having sceptical information in AR4. Also includes a nice ps, which is rather open to interpretation-

p.s. Tim: Are you convinced the more recent papers by the VS group use the correct calibration? In those curves that are intended to show the pseudoproxies perform poorly even when calibrated correctly, as long as you add a lot more noise, I wonder why the pseudoproxies perform poorly even within the calibration interval, where they now should be calibrated to properly reproduce the 20th C warming trend, and they don't?

Does that mean properly calibrated, or calibrated to produce the desired shape?

Nov 23, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

If Russell, Palmer, Boulton, Osborn, and Briffa (or some subset) are demonstrated to be misleading (=lying to) the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (as here apparently) will any action be taken against them?

Nov 23, 2010 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I wouldn't have thought so - evidence is not taken under oath AFAIK.

Nov 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I telephoned the Sci&Tech Committee about giving evidence a while ago. I was told that all evidence given is covered under parliamentary privilege and there is no requirement for telling the truth, etc.

Nov 23, 2010 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Powers explained here-

A committee also has power to take evidence on oath. This rarely happens but, if the procedure is used, witnesses are liable to the laws of perjury.

If that power is invoked, then I think it involves the usual oath swearing. Also-

In particular, witnesses should answer questions put to them by a committee carefully, fully and honestly. Deliberately attempting to mislead a committee is a contempt of the House, which the House has the power to punish.

So there is a power to punish witnesses. There's also the flipside-

In practical terms this means that Select Committee witnesses are immune from civil or criminal proceedings founded upon that evidence; nor can their evidence be relied upon in civil or criminal proceedings against any other person.

Which may explain reluctance to publish some witness statements in full and put them under parliamentary privilege, and also offers similar protection to those that gave oral testimony.

Nov 23, 2010 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

" requirement for telling the truth"

Ah, standard climatology rules then.

Nov 23, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Thanks AH.

Eystein Jansen stated that Briffa forwarded a copy of the acceptance email to the CLAs on March 1, 2006. It would appear that only Jansen has retained a copy of it as it does not appear in the Climategate emails. I am also intrigued by this line from Jansen May 2010 email, "I have gone back through the e-mail exchanges we had concerning the Wahl/Amman paper in 2006. Here is the
narrative I have." It suggests that there was much more than one exchange from Briffa to Jansen.

Nov 23, 2010 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Not only Briffa and Osborn new who the accuser is, they naming him specifically ( see their answer to paragraph 89 of original submission, page 19 of

Nov 23, 2010 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterborssyk

I telephoned the Sci&Tech Committee, after reading the comment from Atomic Hairdryer. They confirmed that knowingly misleading the Committee would be considered contempt of the House. They recommended that evidence for such be sent to, for the attention of the Committee Clerk. I asked what penalties were possible, but they did not know.

I am not sure what happened when I phoned earlier (in February). Perhaps I had only asked if people could be charged with perjury, for which the answer is negative. In any case, having the contempt charge seems excellent.

Nov 23, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

They are very shifty devious talented with words.

Nov 23, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

Paul M

Looking at all 3 versions (Original, Boulton May6th, Briffa/Osborn May 19th) It is clear that the final draft is Boulton's. It is a subset of the Briffa/Osborn draft. The Briffa/Osborn version HAD to have been delivered to Boulton in advance of Boulton's letter to them requesting information.

The prosecution was given a cheat sheet by the defence. Very independant no?

Nov 23, 2010 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterB. Culver

Paul M,

That's the one. That single excerpt is precisely what I meant.
We could, I'm sure, go to town, but that little piece on its own is the damning evidence we need.

Spot on. Reading the response alone, Briffa is able to insinuate that the submission is sloppy rather than simply wrong. They are beyond contempt.


Nov 23, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

Re Douglas Keenan,

Don't get too excited. I tried finding what sanctions parliament has for contempt, without much success. If it's evidence under oath, then contempt of court penalties seem to apply. If it's contempt by non-members, then the rules seem harder to find, and rarely used. I did find mention that the Serjeant at Arms can imprison overnight or till the end of session for contempt against the Commons. Lords have potentially more fun being able to imprison indefinetly, but those powers don't appear to have been used for a few hundred years. Details may be in Erskin's guide and I may go pester my MP or the library for a look.

Nov 23, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Sorry to appear to have done a drive-by posting but I had to do a small repair that turned out not to be so small. And I had to do another errand tonight. However, I will try to go through all the issues as soon as I can.

Now that my original submission is referenced by the HoC STC I can say it is here and to understand one of the key ingredients of Climategate you need to read it. Several key pieces of evidence were omitted from Boulton’s version of my submission in relation to the “cheat” to keep Wahl and Ammann in the IPCC Report.

Paul M pointed to the first – the omission of my paragraph 44 which was:

On 11 February 2006 in email 1141180962, Wahl tries to secure the acceptance of Wahl and Ammann writing to the editor, Stephen Schneider, of the journal Climatic Change:
“Hello Steve:
Caspar and I expect to have the final manuscript to you in 7-10 days with all the revisions you requested in December. I have recently had some correspondence with Jonathan Overpeck about this, in his IPCC role. He says that the paper needs to be in press by the end of February to be acceptable to be cited in the SOD. [I had thought that we had passed all chance for citation in the next IPCC report back in December, but Peck has made it known to me this is not so.]

He and I have communicated re: what "in press" means for Climatic Change, and I agreed to contact you to have a clear definition. What I have understood from our conversations before is that if you receive the mss and move it from "provisionally accepted" status to "accepted", then this can be considered in press, in light of CC being a journal of record.
Peace, Gene”

Why would Eugene Wahl have thought he “had passed all chance for citation in the next IPCC report back in December”? He rightly thought it because the timetable shown in my paragraph 40 clearly stated it. In Para 41, I pointed out that the timetable had stated it in three issues, 8 Feb 2005, 20 Jan 2006 and 14 Aug 2006. However redacted from para 40 in Boulton’s Annex was my perfectly reasonable comment emphasising the importance:

Thus there can be no doubt that the TSU originally instructed participants that, to be cited, papers must be published or “in press” by 16 December 2005.

In paragraph 42, I showed the additional instructions sent to everyone on 1 June 2005. It added a further condition that a “final” preprint had to be in the hands of the TSU by late Feb 2006 for any paper to be cited. Note the word “final”.

Once again my important and reasonable comment at the end of 42 was omitted:

The above instruction imposed additional strict conditions necessary to ensure that Government and Expert Reviewers were reviewing the actual paper, as it would be published. It might be argued that it extended the “in press” deadline to any time in December 2005, although it did not specifically state that. It did make it absolutely clear, however, that a final preprint copy had to be held by the TSU by late February 2006 and that failure meant that citations must be removed.

Also redacted from the beginning of para 43 was my comment:

As the writing team began work on the second order draft, Overpeck became concerned at not having the “final preprint” of some papers as the end of February 2006 approached.

Imagine in a British court what the Judge might say if he found out that a lawyer submitted a witness statement from which such comments were removed, without the court knowing. However not just bits of paragraphs were removed – the whole of 44 was, enabling Briffa and Osborne to dismiss as an error my comment at the start of para 45:

The sentence, that Wahl put in parentheses above, shows that he had understood the clear TSU instruction that the paper had to be “in press” by 16 December and was not expecting his paper, written with Caspar Ammann, to be acceptable to the IPCC WGI TSU.

Tomorrow I will post an explanation of why W&A could never have had a “final” preprint until after the IPCC AR4 WGI Report was published and how Jones as good as admitted that W&A was retained only by the retrospective change in the deadline that he and Overpeck made a month after the Expert Review stage. I will also explain the evidential significance of the email from Overpeck also released last Friday as Appendix D in the zip file, and which in 2008 the Under Secretary of State for Defence certified was against the public interest to release.

Nov 23, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland


Wow. Just wow. Just imagine if a tenacious MSM type reporter wanted to do something with this. A 6 year old could make these chaps look like complete laughing stocks.

Look forward to your post tomorrow.

Nov 23, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

I like to think I'm a reasonably smart guy, but to be honest the evidence of wrong-doing here is peripheral and difficult to understand. The arguments seem to be taking the form of a "he-said / she-said" playground dispute rather than showing the existence of a smoking gun. The problem is that the 'warmist' parties were allowed to appoint their own inquiries and then set the mandates. Once this had happened truth was always going to have to take a back seat.

Nov 24, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR


I don't agree with you. Maybe you should read the followup post ( UEA - a new story). Boulton asked Briffa and Osborn a pivotal question where he deleted a vital piece of information. Briffa and Osborn responded, said they could not answer this question, even though they had the missing information in front of their noses. Boulton was either dumb or deceitful and Briffa and Osborn acted like schoolboys .

Nov 24, 2010 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterharold

OK we now understand that my submission was about how and why Wahl and Ammann 2007 came to be cited in the last (AR4) IPCC Working Group One Chapter 6.

The first "Publication Deadlines" document which I had referred to in my para 42 had a final paragraph:

The above constraints are necessary because the IPCC assessment process is under intense scrutiny and we have an obligation to ensure that the literature is reported accurately and in a balanced way that is fair to the science community, the review process, and our final policymaker audience.

This and other evidence such as the leaked email I quoted in my para 84, but which Boulton redacted, shows that the working group were very keen to have the appearance of probity - so long as it did not interfere with them being able to write their conclusions. Here it must be remembered that as far back as July 2005 Sir John Houghton, who is never far from climate change controversy, had told the US Senate that Wahl and Ammann had disposed of McIntyre and McKitrick.

To report the literature accurately and to be fair to the review process it is a no brainer to say that Lead Authors and Expert Reviewers must have access to what is being reported. For such a globally important report as that of the IPCC, roughly right is just not good enough. Moreover Expert Reviewers must be able to express their disagreement with any papers being reported and to do that any data and calculations must be available to them. The IPCC procedures say so. Requiring a "final preprint" before the start of the review stage must be the absolute minimum requirement.

By "final" most people understand that nothing will change except as the first Publication Deadlines document stated, copy editing, usually done by the publisher and does not affecting any technicalities. The draft Wahl and Ammann 2007 manuscript held by the Technical Support Unit and available to Reviewers when the review stage started was not remotely the final draft and relied upon another paper.

Many papers cite others justifying claims or statements but if they are fundamental to part of what is new most publishers would not claim to have a "final preprint" available until such references are fixed. Not only was was the other paper that W&A relied upon unpublished but it was not even accepted for publication until 13 June 2007 after the IPCC Report was published. No critical IPCC Reviewer had any chance of investigating its methodology until August 2008.

Briffa has an interesting response to this "cheque kiting" which I will deal with later. Faced with the Reviewer of the the USA saying W&A did not meet the deadline, Briffa and Osborn tell us on page 26 of their evidence that Overpeck Jones and the the other Lead Authors changed the deadline. Their response to USA reviewer was in effect "it does now!"

Finally, for this comment, in my paras 62 to 65 I explained why I believe that the reason give for the deadline change was simply untrue and why it was obviously done to just to let the W&A paper and some others stay cited even though they missed the original deadline. None of this was included in either Boultons or Briffa's version of what I submitted, but this is what I reported in para 64

One of the leaked UEA emails clearly shows that the real purpose of this email from the TSU was an attempt to regularise the Wahl and Ammann 2007 and other papers. It allowed the cryptic “new guidelines” responses to comments to be made by the Lead Authors. On 12 September 2007, long after the release of IPCC AR4 Report, in email 1189722851 Professor Jones replies to Eugene Wahl and Caspar Ammann who had just sent him the final print copy of Wahl and Ammann 2007. He wrote:


Good to see these two out. Wahl/Ammann doesn't appear to be in CC's online first, but comes up if you search. You likely know that McIntyre will check this one to make sure it hasn't changed since the IPCC close-off date July 2006!”

Jones clearly regarded the “close-off date” for all papers to be “in press” as July 2006 which was as stated in the TSU “new guidelines”. He had either forgotten or was ignoring the fact that the earlier “in press” date was 16 December 2005. The “new guidelines” applied only to “additional scientific literature” and only to papers actually “published in 2006”, which Wahl had just told Jones his paper failed.

Nov 24, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

As the Bish has started a new thread I shall continue over there in a while.

Nov 24, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

David, I think congratulations are in order - your submission must have hit some sore spots to merit such surreal counter-measures. Keeping the consensus afloat now takes something resembling the Keystone Cops meet Basil Fawlty. How the mighty IPCC has fallen. Keep up the great work.

Nov 24, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Why don´t you note the fact that the new deadline was decided by TSU and Susan Solomon, not by Overpeck/Jones and was for all contributions to all chapters? You need to be extremely narrow-minded to believe that this was done solely for the purpose of the W&A paper, on a small detail of the entire IPCC report. The logical reasoning is that there were many important results in the pipeline in need for assessment and that the author teams of the report across many of the chapters pressed for an extension. It would make a better report if it became more updated with newer results, and it is impractical to have a cut-off deadline two years before the release of the report. But of course, this logic and reasonable thinking does not fit into the conspirational narrative of Holland and Montford and claqueurs....

Nov 24, 2010 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuck S K

Chuck S K

I will answer that, but as I said, it will be over on the Bishops new thread, after I explain a couple of other things and when I get back from a meeting later tonight, Noblesse oblige.

Nov 24, 2010 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

So what other important results made it into the report thanks to this extension and was this
extension commutated to other contributors ?

There is a set of rules laid down and procedures to follow to deal with issue with these rules. Both of these were ignored in what happened, why do you think they have worked so hard to cover up what went on if they had do nothing wrong?

Nov 24, 2010 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

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