Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Hacker leaks scientists' e-mails


Data from the centre has now appeared on the internet

Hundreds of private e-mails containing personal information about scientists have been published on the internet after a computer was hacked.

The offender tapped into the Norwich-based University of East Anglia's (UEA) world-renowned Climate Change Unit's computer server and stole files.

They include documents, detailed data and private e-mails exchanged between leading climate scientists.

Norfolk Police said an investigation into the hacking has been started.

A UEA spokesman said: "It is a matter of concern that data, including personal information about individuals, appears to have been illegally taken from the university and elements published selectively.

The selective publication of some stolen emails and other papers taken out of context is mischievous
UEA spokesman

"We took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation and have involved the police in what we consider to be a criminal investigation."

The leak of the information has also sparked a new row over climate change.

Climate sceptics have said the e-mails show that important data behind the climate change debate has been manipulated.

They have picked up on the word "trick" in one e-mail from 1999 and talk of "hiding the decline".

'Globally respected'

Prof Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit, said the e-mail was genuine but taken "completely out of context".

He released a copy of the actual e-email which reads: "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

Prof Jones said: "The first thing to point out is that this refers to one diagram - not a scientific paper.

"The word 'trick' was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward."

A UEA spokesman added: "The material published relates to the work of our globally-respected and other scientists around the world.

"The selective publication of some stolen e-mails and other papers taken out of context is mischievous and cannot be considered a genuine attempt to engage with this issue in a responsible way."

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