15 Apr 2010

Panel clears 'climategate' scientists

11:36 am on 15 April 2010

An investigation into the university at the centre of the "Climategate" dispute over leaked climate change data has found that there was no scientific malpractice.

An independent panel examined the research published by the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, after e-mails from the unit's scientists were published online.

The independent panel, which was chaired by Lord Oxburgh, said it would be helpful for researchers to work more closely with professional statisticians in future.

Its report said this would ensure the best methods were used when analysing the complex and often "messy" data on climate.

The BBC reports the e-mails issue came to light in November last year, when hundreds of messages between CRU scientists and their peers around the world were posted on the internet, along with other documents.

Critics said that the e-mail exchanges revealed an attempt by the researchers involved to manipulate data.

A recent House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report into the e-mails concluded that the scientists involved had no intention to deceive.

And Lord Oxburgh said that he hoped these "resounding affirmations" of the unit's scientific practice would put those suspicions to bed.

He stated: "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 included Professor David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society.

Climate sceptics have argued that CRU's statistical methods were inadequate.

Professor Hand said that the CRU scientists did not use "the best statistical tools for their studies" but that this had made not significant difference to their conclusions.