04 December 2009

The Royal Society and The Royal Society of Chemistry v Phil Jones

Should one of the UK's scientific societies launch a private prosecution against Phil Jones if the East Anglia email hack provides sufficient evidence?

News reports so far suggest that the scientists behind East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit may be liable in fraud, misconduct in public office and s77 of the Freedom of Information Act. Of course, without trawling through all of these emails with a view to building a case against the purported scientists at the centre of this scandal, it is difficult to form a sensible view as to their culpability. The internet provides reasonable arguments saying that they may be guilty of these (and perhaps other) offences; while other arguments suggest that the emails have been quoted out of context and misconstrued such that the people involved appear to be a lot worse than what they are.

I don't know the truth of the matter. Nor does anyone else, at the moment.

Shouldn't one of the prestigious societies take an interest in whether or not it would be possible to prosecute anyone in this case?

It would certainly clear the air if they did.

If a genuine attempt was made, under section 6 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, and the Prosecutors Code was applied with a report produced explaining why they were not prepared to prosecute if that was their finding. If, on the other hand, it was thought that there was sufficient evidence, and the facts fitted with the tests in the prosecutors code, then there should be a prosecution.

I think that this process would go a long way to restoring the reputation of the science that is being done in East Anglia.

Reports tells us, "Climategate: UN panel on climate change to investigate claims" but it would be better if one of the societies were to take the lead.

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