Phew. Looks like the heat’s off

SCENE: Private room, University of East Anglia. Independent inquiry chaired by Sir Muir Russell (SMR) is under way into the “climategate” e-mails scandal.

SMR: What an honour it is to be chairing such a distinguished panel. There are eminent doctors and professors, not least Geoffrey Boulton, General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. We will be much guided by you, Professor.

GB: Pleased to help. I’ve brought my two-volume work on glacial geology.

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SMR: Professor, I should make clear our inquiry will not examine the evidence for man-made climate change but will focus on whether researchers at the Climate Research Unit followed scientific rigour and due processes. We will also look at whether they complied with rules on FoI requests. And their e-mails.

PANEL: Excellent start, chairman! But what e-mails?

SMR: So first, some ground rules. One, no leaks of these proceedings!

PANEL: Quite.

SMR: Two, no publication of results!

PANEL: Jolly good!

SMR: Third, no e-mails!

PANEL: Excellent! But how will people know the results?

SMR: We don’t have to have results. Or even conclusions. We’re academics.

PANEL: So the university’s off the hook?

SMR: You could say that. I couldn’t possibly comment. Now, let’s begin…

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