An independent investigation of the leaked emails and other documents from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit will be headed by a former British civil servant. The Times (London) reports:
The university at the centre of a climate change row today appointed a former civil servant to head an inquiry into claims of misconduct by its scientists.
Sir Muir Russell, chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, who has no previous links with the climate science community, will lead the investigation into allegations that leading academics at the University of East Anglia mainipulated data on global warming.
He will also look at whether the university's Climate Research Unit (CRU) was in compliance with its Freedom of Information (FOI) policies and the Environmental Information Regulations for the release of data.
Not surprisingly reactions have differed. Climate catastrophe skeptics seem happy while proponents think the probe unjustified.
Benny Peiser, director of the "sceptic" thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation, welcomed the choice of Sir Muir, saying that it was essential that the university chose someone without connections to the climate science community.
"We're not giving the inquiry a blank cheque, we will be monitoring it very carefully," he said. "If the inquiry is done properly and the scientists are cleared we welcome their restoration into their jobs.
Kevin Trenberth, a senior climate scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, whose correspondence with Professor Jones was among the e-mails posted online, questioned the justification for the inquiry.
"Phil Jones and CRU are being punished and subjected to tremendous harassment stemming from illegal acts of others. Where is the counterpoint about the misrepresentation and downright lies about Jones and CRU, and who is going after those people?"
Dr Trenberth said that no matter what the outcome of the inquiry, the affair had been deeply damaging for the public perception of climate science. "From the recent vote in Australia, to statements from the Saudi rep about how he will use this to block things in Copenhagen," he said. "Politicians have to be strong and bold to go against their voters, and the political will is diminished by this."
The report will not be out until this spring. Whole Times article here.