Hans Verolme, a Dutch national, was recruited into the UK's diplomatic service in 2000, having previously worked for a Dutch environmental group called Ecooperation.
Verolme appears several times in the CG2.0 emails. The first exchange is in #0277, the thread beginning in May 2003. Cathy Johnson, an official from Defra, contacts Verolme and passes on a document written by the Hadley Centre's Peter Stott. This is a critique of the Soon and Baliunas paper and apparently includes some questions that can be asked of Soon.
The circumstances are at this point somewhat unclear. It is probable that the email was solicited by Verolme, but we do not see this earlier message, but we do not know the reason. Later in the same thread, however, we discover that Stott's briefing was prepared for a press conference at the Marshall Institute for Soon and Baliunas. The thread includes Verolme's report of the occasion; it appears that the briefing was useful, and we learn also that Stott in fact had a co-author:
Thank you, in particular to Peter Stott at the Hadley Centre and Phil Jones at U. East Anglia, for the excellent speaking points for the briefing by Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics organized by the climate sceptic Marshall Insitute. The event went well, if maybe not the way the organizers and their sponsor, Senator George Allan (R-Virginia), had expected.
The report of the conference is interesting and well worth a read. Verolme closes as follows:
The meeting disbanded in a somewhat disorganized manner. Mission accomplished.
I had no idea that the work of a public servant might include trying to sabotage scientists' press conferences. You live and learn.
However, this was not the only lesson I learned from Verolme's message about the duties of public servants. This was certainly not the way I had imagined they worked:
Jeff Nesmith of the Cox Newspapers group is working on a piece exposing the sceptics. We agreed to speak.
I had no idea that keeping data under wraps was what taxpayers were paying for either:
Bill O'Keefe [the president of the Marshall Institute] was eager to gain access to further recent instrumental temperature data we hold. Would you consider his request for data knowing they will likely be spun?
There is also some discussion of Rep. Boehlert, who is, we learn, "an ally and an expert politician".
A few days later there are some further exchanges between a group including Verolme, Mike Hulme, H-J Schellnhuber, Martin Parry and officials at Defra and the Met Office. This again relates to an attempt by Verolme to get rebuttals to arguments being advanced by sceptics.
Subject: RE: Questions to ask Soon and Balianus
While causing trouble. Can you all give an authoritative view in response to the following quote?:
"It's false," said Jerry Taylor, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. "There is absolutely no evidence that extreme weather events are on the increase. None. The argument that more and more dollar damages accrue is a reflection of the greater amount of wealth we've created."
This in response to the latest Worldwatch Institute report Vital Signs 2003 (see below). How does that stack up relative to Munich and Swiss Re. views? Is there research on increased intensity and frequency of 'extreme events'?
In this case Hulme seems to provide the requested arguments, which can be read at the top of the thread.
A few months later there is a second email thread (#1595) involving Verolme. On this occasion, we learn that he is concerned about the Senate hearings on the Hockey Stick (not to be confused with the House hearings involving McIntyre two years later). As Verolme tells his contacts in Defra and the Met Office (my emphasis):
Today the Senate will hold a hearing on the never-ending story of the hockey stick. Michael Mann and Willie Soon are slated to testify...In case you were not aware, the Senate Environment Cie. chair, Inhofe, is aligned with the sceptics. But don't despair, your recent debunking of the Soon and Baliunas paper for the Marshall Institute has found its way to sympathetic Senate staff, stripped of its origins. Senators Jeffords and Clinton will hold their feet to the fire.
And this is not the end of Verolme's tireless efforts:
Peter's paper in GRL has also been provided to the NY Times science editor. I suggested he review it in the context of last week's science strategy release and this week's Earth Observation Summit. Let's see.
If the idea of a British civil servant sending anonymised briefings to Democrat staffers in the Senate is not strange enough, the idea of him giving science briefings to the science editor of the New York Times is rather odd too. I wonder who it was in those days?
There are other exchanges involving Verolme in the emails, but nothing quite so interesting I think.
Verolme left the service of the British taxpayer in 2004, taking up the position of head of climate change at WWF.