01 December 2009

Climate Research Unit and Fraud Act 2006

Simply, are the Climate Research Unit authors of the now, infamous emails, liable under the provisions of the Fraud Act 2006?


"2 Fraud by false representation
(1) A person is in breach of this section if he
(a) dishonestly makes a false representation, and
(b) intends, by making the representation
(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
(2) A representation is false if
(a) it is untrue or misleading, and
(b) the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.
(3) Representation means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of
(a) the person making the representation, or
(b) any other person.
(4) A representation may be express or implied.
(5) For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)."

The question as to whether or they are liability goes to the question of honesty, or otherwise. If it can be shown that there is dishonesty in these dealings, then they are liable.

The destruction of documents in order to avoid compliance with a freedom of information request would incur liability under, section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which provides,

"77 — (1) Where—
(a) a request for information has been made to a public authority, and
(b) under section 1 of this Act or section 7 of the M1 Data Protection Act 1998, the applicant would have been entitled (subject to payment of any fee) to communication of any information in accordance with that section,
any person to whom this subsection applies is guilty of an offence if he alters, defaces, blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled.
(2) Subsection (1) applies to the public authority and to any person who is employed by, is an officer of, or is subject to the direction of, the public authority.

Further thoughts to go with Fraud and s77 FOI Act liabilities are ... Misconduct in Public Office,

"The elements of misconduct in public office are:

a) A public officer acting as such.
[surely the CRU 'scientists' are public officers]

b) Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.
[which will be determined by an equiry of some sort]

c) To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.

d) Without reasonable excuse or justification.

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