from: Phil Jones <p.jonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: FW: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request
to: "Myles Allen" <allenatXYZxyz.ox.ac.uk>
Never say you got this email from me! I probably shouldn't be passing this on - maybe
it's protected under the Data Protection Act. Several other people have tried the same ploy
he has used about what the agreements we had with Met Services mean. His response contains
a very mild implicit threat, but it is very mild. Some others have been much more explicit.
As an aside some of the papers published on the CRU dataset contain more information
than you would get with the GISS or NCDC data.
The web page we put up is here - this is what he's referring to.
Good to see you again - and see you on Oct 15 at the UKCP09 meet.
From: "Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)" <David.PalmeratXYZxyz.ac.uk>
To: "Colam-French Jonathan Mr (ISD)" <s119atXYZxyz.ac.uk>, "Mcgarvie Michael Mr
(ACAD)" <k364atXYZxyz.ac.uk>, "Jones Philip Prof (ENV)" <P.JonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk>,
"Ogden Annie Ms (MAC)" <k319atXYZxyz.ac.uk>
Sender: "Baker Jane Mrs (LIB)" <Jane.BakeratXYZxyz.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2009 13:33:59 +0100
Subject: FW: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request (FOI_09-117;
EIR_09-14) - Response
Thread-Topic: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request
(FOI_09-117; EIR_09-14) - Response
Accept-Language: en-US, en-GB
acceptlanguage: en-US, en-GB
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 28 Aug 2009 12:34:00.0686 (UTC) FILETIME=[D1EE58E0:01CA27DB]
We have received an appeal from Prof. Jonathan Jones regarding our response to his
request for the following information:
"a copy of any digital version of the CRUTEM station data set that has been sent from
CRU to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and
June 25, 2009".
I have sent out an acknowledgement letter. We have until 24th September 2009 to respond.
LaRC Co-ordinator / Blackboard support
Learning and Resources Centre (LaRC)
Norwich NR4 7TJ
01603 59 3483
My office days are Wednesday to Friday
Bob Heath is in the office Mondays and Tuesdays
From: Jonathan Jones [mailto:Jonathan.JonesatXYZxyzit.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:10 PM
To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
Cc: Heath Robert Mr (LIB); Baker Jane Mrs (LIB)
Subject: RE: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request (FOI_09-117; EIR_09-14)
Dear Mr Palmer,
Thank you for your letter dated 14 August, reference ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION
REGULATIONS 2004 - INFORMATION REQUEST (FOI_09-117; EIR_09-14) in response to my request
for "a copy of any digital version of the CRUTEM station data set that has been sent
from CRU to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1,
2007 and June 25, 2009".
I regret that I do not consider your response satisfactory, and am therefore appealing
your decision. As I understand you are currently on holiday I am copying this to Bob
Heath (r.heathatXYZxyz.ac.uk) and Jane Baker (email@example.com) as you requested in your
You have refused my request on three grounds, all of which are incorrect.
1. Reg. 12(4)(b) - Request is manifestly unreasonable: Information is available
You claim that "the requested data is a subset of data already available from other
sources" namely the gridded data made available by the GHCN and the CRU. It is
factually incorrect to claim that "the requested data is a subset of data already
available from other sources" and your argument cannot stand. A "subset of data already
available" would mean that the data I requested could be obtained from "the gridded data
made available by the GHCN and the CRU" by downloading some or all of this data and
deleting selected parts. The data I have requested cannot be obtained in this manner.
I refer you to the discussion of the gridding process at
You further claim that "it is unreasonable for the University to spend public resources
on providing information in a different format to that which is already available".
However I asked for "a copy of any digital version of the CRUTEM station data set that
has been sent from CRU to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between
January 1, 2007 and Jun 25, 2009". I have only requested a copy of a data set which has
already been prepared by the university, and so is already available. Once again your
statement is factually incorrect and your argument cannot stand.
2. Reg. 12(5)(a) - Adverse effect on international relations: Release would damage
relations with scientists & institutions from other nations
3. Reg. 12(5)(f) - Adverse effect on the person providing information: Information is
covered by a confidentiality agreement
I will take these two points together as they are in essence the same. I begin by
noting that it is wholly perverse to claim simultaneously that the data is "already
available" and that the data is "confidential". Clearly these two statements cannot
simultaneously be true.
With regard to Reg. 12(5)(a) you state that releasing this information "would damage the
trust that other national scientists and institutions have in UK-based public sector
organisations" and consequently "would damage the ability of the University and other UK
institutions to co-operate with meteorological organisations and governments of other
countries". I draw your attention to resolution 40 of the World Meteorological
Organization which states that "WMO commits itself to broadening and enhancing the free
and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological and related data and
products". It is perverse to claim that acting in accordance with this resolution could
endanger cooperation with meteorological organizations.
With regard to Reg. 12(5)(f), the data I requested has already been provided to at least
one other individual, namely Peter Webster at Georgia Tech. Clearly this data cannot be
covered by a strict confidentiality agreement.
It is, of course, true that this data could be covered by limited confidentiality
agreements. The FOI and EIR are quite clear on the responsibilities of organizations
claiming exemption on grounds of confidentiality. The exemption "only applies if a
breach of confidence would be 'actionable'". Courts will only recognise that a person
holds information subject to a duty of confidence in two types of situations:
a) where that person expressly agrees or undertakes to keep information confidential:
there is an express duty of confidence
b) where the nature of the information of the circumstances in which the information is
obtained imply that the person should keep the information confidential: there is an
implied duty of confidence
>From your letter it appears that UEA is claiming an exemption of the first kind, as you
cite a number of supposed confidentiality agreements that you do hold, which are
available at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/availability/ . In fact the great
majority of these are not clearly confidentiality agreements:
a) The 1994 FAX to the Met Office is simply a statement from Dr Hulme about the planned
use of the data; there is no reply as to the conditions under which the data is
b) The 1993 letter from DNMI is a limited request for confidentiality not a formal
agreement, and is almost certainly superseded by WMO Resolution 40. If UEA wishes to
claim exemption under this clause it must first establish with DNMI that an express duty
of confidentiality still applies.
c) The form in Spanish simply states that the data should only be used for the specified
purpose, and as no purpose was specified this cannot establish a duty of
d) The web page is simply a statement by the Met Office of its own policies; this
provides no evidence whatsoever of any duties under which UEA might hold data. It
further notes that NERC data centres may make the data available under certain
circumstances, so there is no absolute duty of confidence.
e) The 1994 letter from Bahrain International Airport is a limited request for
confidentiality not a formal agreement, and is almost certainly superseded by WMO
Resolution 40. If UEA wishes to claim exemption under this clause it must first
establish with Bahrain International Airport that an express duty of confidentiality
I understand that in the past UEA has refused to release the data I have requested and
related data because the request came from a person who was not an academic. I remind
you that "No regard may be had to the identity of the person who is requesting the
information nor to the purpose to which they will put the information." I also remind
you that "When considering the balance of interests, public authorities must have regard
to the interests of the person to whom the duty of confidence is owed; the public
authority's own interests in non-disclosure are not relevant to the application of this
exemption." I further remind you that "If you receive a request for information which,
although it was confidential when it was obtained, was obtained a long time ago, you
should consider carefully whether the disclosure of that information would still
constitute an actionable breach of confidence within the meaning of section 41."
At best UEA has limited evidence for the existence of limited confidentiality agreements
covering part of the data I have requested. It is not clear to me that these documents
in any way establish an express duty of confidence. However, even if they do, the
responsibilities of UEA under Reg. 12(11) of the EIR are clear.
Regulation 12 (11) says: (11) Nothing in these Regulations shall authorise a refusal to
make available any environmental information contained in or otherwise held with other
information which is withheld by virtue of these Regulations unless it is not reasonably
capable of being separated from the other information for the purpose of making
available that information.
Thus UEA is certainly required to provide me with all the data I have requested with the
possible exception of data held under an express duty of confidence (for data withheld
it is required to establish that such an express duty of confidence does in fact
exist). Please note that if it is not possible to identify which data is covered by
supposed confidence agreements, then it is difficult to maintain that the release of
this data will breach such agreements.
I therefore appeal your decision, and reiterate my request for "a copy of any digital
version of the CRUTEM station data set that has been sent from CRU to Peter Webster
and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009".
Prof Jonathan A. Jones web page at http://nmr.physics.ox.ac.uk
Oxford Centre for Quantum Computation and Brasenose College Oxford
From: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB) [mailto:David.PalmeratXYZxyz.ac.uk]
Sent: 14 August 2009 09:41
To: Jonathan Jones
Subject: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request (FOI_09-117; EIR_09-14) -
Attached please find a response to your request received on 24 July 2009. If you have
any questions don't hesitate to contact me.
Cheers, Dave Palmer
Information Policy & Compliance Manager
University of East Anglia
Tel: +44 (0)1603 593523
Fax: +44 (0)1603 591010
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email p.jonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk