UK Police Officially Close ‘ClimateGate’ Case

The “ClimateGate” case that was trying to identify those responsible for the 2009 online break-in of the emails of the Climate Research Centre (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has been closed by the Norfolk Constabulary, the police organization leading the investigation.

Climate skeptics interpreted the leaked emails as implying that the climate scientists at CRU had “massaged statistics” and altered data, according to the Telegraph. The data breach, and subsequent release of emails, cast doubts on climate science at a crucial time, right when world leaders were coming together in Copenhagen to debate possible global actions to mitigate or adapt to climate change.

After multiple investigations into the CRU data, it was confirmed that the CRU had not manipulated their data. One investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that the leaked email exchanges were merely “candid discussions” and did not indicate any conspiracy to make up global warming. They said that the climate skeptics who interpreted the emails as evidence of a global warming lie took the emails out of context and “impugned the ethics of climate scientists and characterized actions as falsifications and manipulation with no basis for support.” The CRU was faulted, however, “for their lack of openness with regard to complying with Freedom of Information requests,” by Sir Muir Russell’s review of the controversy, reported the BBC.

After multiple investigations into the Climate Research Centre (CRU) data, it was confirmed that the CRU had not manipulated their data.

In the midst of the reviews investigating the truth of the claims that CRU had tampered with its data, the Norfolk Constabulary, along with the Suffolk Major Investigation Team and other security experts and investigators, were trying to figure out who was responsible for the hacking.

According to the United Kingdom’s Computer Misuse Act of 1990, the proceedings and investigation of any crime defined by the Act can only last three years. Since that deadline was approaching, investigators decided to close the case Wednesday. The detective leading the investigation, Detective Chief Superintendent Julian Gregory, explained the reasoning for closing the case, “The complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.”

The investigators were able to determine that “the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet” and that there was “no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime,” according to the Norfolk Constabulary’s press release.

The University of East Anglia’s vice-chancellor, Professor Edward Acton, expressed his frustration to the BBC that those who released the emails would not be brought to justice. At the root of his frustration was the fact that “the misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen email . . . did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change.”

A prominent American climate scientist, Michael Mann of Penn State University, often worked with the scientists at CRU and was instrumental in the creation of the famous “hockey stick” graph. He also wants the culprits caught and told BBC News, “I hope that the separate investigation underway by the Justice Department in the U.S. will continue undaunted, especially since the British police concluded that the data breach was the result of a 'sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack’.”