London (AFP) July 7, 2010
Scientists at a top British climate research unit embroiled in a row over their work were cleared of dishonesty by an independent probe on Wednesday, although their lack of openness was criticised.
Climate change sceptics claimed hacked emails from the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit (CRU) showed the scientists had manipulated and suppressed key data to support a theory of man-made global warming.
The row was sparked when hundreds of emails were hacked from the servers of the university in eastern England and posted online.
But the concerns were largely dismissed by an independent review published Wednesday, and the university said it hoped the "conspiracy theories, untruths and misunderstandings" would now finally be laid to rest.
The Independent Climate Change Email Review found nothing in the hacked emails to undermine the conclusions of the United Nations' climate change panel, which won a Nobel peace prize for its 2007 study on global warming.
"On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt," the review concludes.
But the review into the "climategate" affair found the scientists had not been sufficiently open about their studies.
"There has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness," the review concluded, pointing out that scientists had failed to meet requests made under Britain's Freedom of Information legislation.
It is the third review to clear the CRU scientists -- an independent panel and a parliamentary inquiry had previously found no wrongdoing -- and the university said it hoped the allegations had finally been rebuffed.
"An exhaustive independent review has exposed as unfounded the overwhelming thrust of the allegations against our science," said university vice-chancellor Professor Edward Acton.
"We hope that commentators will accurately reflect what this highly detailed independent report says, and finally lay to rest the conspiracy theories, untruths and misunderstandings that have circulated."
He added that Phil Jones, who had stepped aside as head of the CRU pending the investigation into the emails, had been appointed to the new post of the unit's director of research with immediate effect.
Jones said he was "extremely relieved" at the review's result, saying: "We have maintained all along that our science is honest and sound."
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