By Leo Hickman - The Guardian - November 23, 2009
Prominent voices on both sides of the climate change debate today called for an independent inquiry into claims of collusion between climate scientists after it emerged last week that hundreds of their emails and documents had been leaked that allegedly manipulated data and destroyed evidence for Freedom of Information Act requests.
Writing in the Times, Lord Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor and long-time climate change sceptic, said: "The integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay."
Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: "Once appropriate action has been taken over the hacking, there has to be some process to assess the substance of the email messages as well. The selective disclosure and dissemination of the messages has created the impression of impropriety, and the only way of clearing the air now would be through a rigorous investigation. I have sympathy for the climate researchers at the University of East Anglia and other institutions who have been the target of an aggressive campaign by so-called 'sceptics' over a number of years. But I fear that only a thorough investigation could now clear their names."
He added: "There needs to be an assurance that these email messages have not revealed inappropriate conduct in the preparation of journal articles and in dealing with requests from other researchers for access to data. This will probably require investigations both by the host institutions and by the relevant journals. There may also be a role for the UK Research Integrity Office to advise on any investigation."
A spokesperson for Nature, the science journal mentioned by name in one of the alleged emails that sceptics say provides evidence of data manipulation and collusion, declined to comment.