New Climategate Puzzle

  • Date: 08/01/13
  • Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit

A recent David Holland FOI has turned up an astonishing new riddle about the relationship between UEA and the Muir Russell panel: there are two different versions of the Sommer Report on the Backup Server, both dated 17 May 2010 and both entitled “UEA – CRU Review: Initial Report and commentary on email examination”. One version was included in the Muir Russell archive of online evidence – see here – it was only two pages long. A different 10-page version was produced by UEA in response to David Holland’s FOI – see documentation or here as html.

The longer version contains details not included in the (apparently) expurgated version published by Muir Russell. The short version is derived from the longer version. Although the two versions of the report are both said to have the same author and bear the same date, there are differences in formatting that, in my opinion, point strongly to the shorter version having been prepared by someone other than Peter Sommer for reasons that, at present, are not entirely clear. If, on the other hand, Sommer himself did prepare the shorter version as well as the longer version, the UEA appears to have withheld correspondence documenting their reason for requesting a second version of the report and whether the second version was backdated.

As a prefatory comment, I urge CA readers to purchase Andrew Montford’s excellent “Hiding the Decline” for a thorough discussion of the “inquiries” that failed to inquire, written in Andrew’s usual lucid style. I had seen a pdf draft; Andrew kindly sent me a real copy. It read even better as a paperback back than on the computer screen. So please support Andrew – see here.

I’ve commented in the past on the very cursory analysis of the Backup Server. One loose end, recently pursued by David Holland, was that Sommer had stated (in the expurgated version here published by Muir Russell) that he had been retained by the UEA (rather than the “Independent Climate Change Email Review”) as follows:

“I am asked by the University of East Anglia to look at the back-ups of the computers of the key researchers in CRU as they are held on the back-up server to see if it is feasible to identify email traffic which was not publicised on the various websites, but nonetheless related to the same issues and might justify further investigation by the Independent Review into the publication of the emails and the allegations of inappropriate scientific and other practice which had subsequently been made.”

Quoting the above paragraph, in November 2012, David Holland asked the UEA for its correspondence with Sommer as follows:

Please supply me electronic copies of the correspondence with Prof. Sommer in connection with this assignment including his invoice for this work.

In december 2012, the UEA returned the following documentation in one bundle:
1. a four-page contract between the UEA and Peter Sommer dated April 26, 2010
2. an administrative email dated April 27, 2010 from Elaine Rymarz of the Registrar’s Officer to Sommer;
3. an invoice dated May 26, 2010 from Sommer to UEA for 37 hours of work between April 26 and May 24, 2010
4. a ten-page report from Sommer dated May 17, 2010 entitled “UEA – CRU Review Initial Report and commentary on email examination”

It seems very likely to me that there is other correspondence between the UEA and Sommer. It’s hard to picture the contract being administered with no correspondence between the signature of the contract and delivery of the report, especially with the problems and delays in obtaining access. However, that’s a problem for a different day.

As noted above, there are some puzzling stylistic differences between the two versions (looking here at the documents in terms of form as opposed to content, just as Mosher did when he identified Gleick as the author of the forged Heartland document).

In the short Muir Russell version, the author and date at the end of the document are left-justified in the same font as the rest of the report, while in the FOI version, the author and date are right=justified. The author in the Muir Russell version is “Professor Peter Sommer”, while the author in the new version is just “Peter Sommer”. Sommer’s website was listed in the Muir Russell version, but not in the FOI version. Compare the two below.

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