Review finds no science malpractice at UEA

An independent panel chaired by Lord Oxburgh has found that there was no scientific malpractice at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, despite all the 'Climategate' brouhaha.

The review was instigated after e-mails from the Climate Research Unit's (CRU) scientists were published online, just in time to destabilise the Copenhagen conference on combating climate change.

Chairman of the review body, Lord Oxburgh said: "We found absolutely no evidence of any impropriety whatsoever. That doesn't mean that we agreed with all of their conclusions, but these people were doing their jobs honestly."

The panel also included Professor David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society, who said that the CRU scientists did not use "the best statistical tools for their studies", nevertheless, the scientists made a good fist of converting "messy data" into facts. The CRU scientists were "to be commended for how they dealt with the data," Hand said.

The panel also said researchers should work more closely with professional statisticians in future. "We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians," the panel noted.

The panel said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had "oversimplified" the CRU data it published.

Vice chancellor at the UEA, Edward Acton, welcomed the report. "It is especially important that, despite a deluge of allegations and smears against the CRU, this independent group of utterly reputable scientists have concluded that there was no evidence of any scientific malpractice," he said.

Defending claims that the report was produced too quickly to be anything other than superficial, Lord Oxburgh told the BBC that the panel had ploughed its way through 11 key [CRU] publications spreading back over 20 years as well as many others. "We then spent 15 person days interviewing the scientists at UEA. "I don't know what more we could have done and we came to a unanimous conclusion."