Climategate boffins broke the law

Scientists at the heart of the Climategate scandal have been reprimanded by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for withholding data paid for and owned by the public.

Illegal inconsistencies in the way requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act were dealt with came to light when thousands of emails and documents were stolen and posted into the public domain by an unidentified hacker.

Now, as well as having to defend against accusations that they cynically manipulated data to suit their own ends, red-faced doom merchants at the University of East Anglia Climate Change Unit are under fire for failing to allow global warming sceptics proper access to the facts and figures.

Professor Phil Jones, the lead scientist and author of many of the damning emails, has scurried off to hide until the storm has died down, but insists that there was nothing wrong with his data and that his emails had been taken out of context.

The current row centres around requests for information made by climate change skeptics in the 2007-2008 period, according to a report by the BBC. But because the failure to properly supply publicly-owned data did not come to light until the recent breach, it is now too late to take legal action against the university and its publicly funded employees.

The ICO is now gathering evidence against the UEA and other organisations which might lead to a change in the law regarding the amount of time that can pass after which a prosecution can take place.

A review is also under way to find out if the UEA really did make up the numbers in order to scare the bejezus out of the rest of us poor planet-dwelling minions.