date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 16:08:53 +0100
from: "Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)" <David.PalmeratXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: RE: FW: FOIA meeting documentation [FOI_09-117; EIR-09-14] -
to: "Jones Philip Prof (ENV)" <P.JonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
I have to get a draft response to Prof. Jones to JCF for review - we have an issue with
whether one would be able to work back from what is available currently to what was sent to
GaTech - in our original response we stated that the request was 'manifestly unreasonable'
due to the fact that "the requested data is a subset of data already available from other
sources; namely the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), and the Climate Research
Unit already makes requested information available on it's website in a gridded format". I
believe that the request for the data falls on other grounds but if the requester can't 'go
back' from what is available currently, it makes this particular argument very shaky. We
also have the additional problem of the requester not having any idea of how to define what
was sent to GaTech. Ergo - is there any way in which we can still maintain that the GaTech
data is available to the requester?
Given your comments below, we can legitimately state that we no longer hold the data set
and are under no obligation to 'create' information that no longer exists. However, as a
policy matter, are you comfortable with this statement going out and being circulated
Regardless of the above, our argument under Reg 12(5)(a) (adverse effect on international
relations) and Reg. 12(5)(f) (adverse effect on person providing information where no
consent for disclosure) still technically stands in my view as the confidentiality of the
agreement is somewhat irrelevant - it's the effect that matters.... We still have the
hurdle of the 'public interest test' to pass but hopefully all this will be approved and
published by the time any appeal gets considered by the ICO.
As an addendum to our efforts to secure consent, I should note that DEFRA guidance states
that "Suppliers of volunteered information should be encouraged to consent to release where
appropriate. Such consent can be sought in advance, when the information is collected, but
can be sought later in response to a particular request or in order to proactively
disseminate the information. There may however be circumstances where to obtain information
the public authority wish to provide reassurance that the information, once supplied, will
not be made available to a third party on request. Public authorities can undertake to
consult with the volunteers of sensitive information in the event of a request for this
information being received. [emphasis mine]
I think that JCF can make the argument that we are doing exactly what DEFRA are asking us
The response that we discussed in our meeting on 1 October I believe is to be utilised for
incoming requests that follow this one - this case (and the appeal of Mr. McIntyre) are
setting the precedent that we will be citing in future requests....
From: Phil Jones [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:25 PM
To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
Cc: Mcgarvie Michael Mr (ACAD)
Subject: Re: FW: FOIA meeting documentation [FOI_09-117; EIR-09-14]
I agree with a lot of what you've said in your attachment - your annotated
commentary. There is the issue of wasting our time, which is the main one. The other
issue is that Met Services putting conditions for the use of the data was common in the
mid-1980s and 1990s. We were just quite adept at getting around the conditions. We went
into discussions with the Met Services assuming these would exist. The world was a very
different place in 1990 than it is now.
What I sent GaTech was station data - not the gridded. I don't have this file, but I
could recreate what was sent. It won't be exactly the same, unless I strip off the last
couple of years. I would have done it in mid Jan 2009 - some back data fro 2007 and 2008
has come in recently.
I've been talking with the Met Office. If they do send a letter around, then the
normal 'allowed' time to respond is 12 months. I knew it was long, but didn't realise it
was this long. Also, you don't chase up on non responders. To avoid much admin at their
end, they are considering only releasing the data for countries which say yes. If some
yes/but, no or don't respond then we don't release it.
As an aside I'm attaching a paper I'd forgotten. This gives a comparison of the CRU and
GHCN datasets (Figure 2) for the period from 1900 (the red and blue lines). There are no
significant differences between the datasets! If only people would read the literature
and realize this. This just shows that the requests are all politically motivated.
At 12:14 23/09/2009, Palmer Dave Mr (LIB) wrote:
Please note the document 'Appeal internal assessment' - what we have decided to do is
immediately proceed to a review by JCF on this one as I don't think an 'informal review'
will yield any results. Our meeting was to do some preliminary work on what that
response will be...
In my discussion with JCF, two questions of fact arose that I'd like your opinion on...
1. Is it possible, knowing the parameters of what was sent to GaTech, to work back from
the gridded data to what was sent? I'm sure you have told me this before in a meeting
but with all the requests flying about, I simply can't remember
2. Do we have a copy of the dataset sent to GaTech still in existence? (I thought not
but once again, couldn't remember - must take better notes at meetings!)
I'll ensure that you all see a draft of the response when completed....
From: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 5:25 PM
To: Colam-French Jonathan Mr (ISD)
Subject: FOIA meeting documentation
A couple of things for our meeting
1. FOI_09-44; EIR_09-03 - Copy of referral letter sent to Mr. McIntyre - went 'late' but
works to our advantage as it gives us/you more time & puts a response due after our
meeting with Phil, Michael & Annie. If Mr. McIntyre wanted to be picky, he could
maintain that our referral should have happened 2 weeks ago. However, I think he
realises the limitations of FOIA and is probably playing a 'longer game'....
2. FOI_09-117; EIR_09-14 - Annotated response to Prof. Jones' assertions. I suspect we
will get more of these so we should have our arguments at the ready!
PS. Got a request for agreements with the Mef Office in Australia today - wonder if this
is a new tack?
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