Inquiry into Climategate emails begins

A inquiry has begun to find how e-mails from the UK's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia appeared on the web.

A panel of experts, headed by Sir Muir Russell is charged with investigating all angles of the "Climategate" fiasco, including establishing whether the e-mails show evidence of attempts to manipulate the data.

The panel will present preliminary conclusions "by spring 2010".

Sir Muir said his inquisitors were "free to pursue and follow any line of inquiry that we wish" in attempts to discover how hackers managed to copy 160MB documents, 1,000 of which turned up on the web in a carefully-timed operation code-named Copenhagen Sting.

Sir Muir is already heading a parallel inquiry into the controversial content of the emails.

The panel said it would, "Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice."

The University of East Anglia also separately announced an external assessment of research published by the CRU, to establish the validity of facts thrown into doubt by the controversy.

"Colleagues in CRU have strenuously defended their conduct and the published work and we believe it is in the interests of all concerned that there should be an additional assessment considering the science itself," University pro-vice chancellor Professor Trevor Davies said.