Page last updated at 21:50 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Scientist in climate change data row steps down

Professor Phil Jones
Professor Phil Jones has stepped down as director of the CRU

The research director at the centre of a row over climate change data said he would stand down from the post while there is an independent review.

Professor Phil Jones, director of the Norwich-based University of East Anglia's (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU), has said he stands by his data.

Sceptics claim the e-mails, leaked after a UEA server was hacked into, showed data was being manipulated.

The hacking of the computer is being investigated by Norfolk Police.

The files stolen from the computer include documents, detailed data and private e-mails exchanged between leading climate scientists.

'Continue research'

Professor Jones said he would stand aside as director until the completion of the independent review.

It is being conducted in the wake of the allegations by climate "sceptics".

The material was taken from servers at the world-renowned research centre before it was published on websites run by climate change sceptics.

Professor Jones said: "What is most important is that CRU continues its world-leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible.

"After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the director's role during the course of the independent review."

Professor Peter Liss will become acting director while the review is conducted, the university said.

'Out of context'

At the time that the theft of the data was revealed climate sceptics picked up on the word "trick" in one e-mail from 1999 and talk of "hiding the decline".

Professor Jones 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."

Professor 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."

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