Last June The BBC announced

Jason Watkins, Victoria Hamilton, George MacKay and Jerome Flynn to star in conspiracy thriller The Trick for BBC One

 written by Bafta-nominated Owen Sheers The Trick tells the story of world-renowned Professor Philip Jones, Director of Climate Research at the University of East Anglia, who back in 2009 found himself at the eye of an international media storm and the victim of cyberterrorism.

With time running out against an unseen enemy, The Trick looks at the potentially devastating consequences to humanity from climate change denial; how a media storm undermined public confidence in the science and how the concept of ‘truth’ took a back seat causing us to lose a decade of action. The film also charts the unjustified persecution of Phil Jones, his wife Ruth’s fierce support of her husband and the fight for the ultimate exoneration of himself and the science.

Jason Watkins, who plays Jones, says:

“It is rare that a drama marries the personal and the public in such a compelling way – the urgent need to tackle the effects of the earth’s warming is not going away and the research into this project has been sobering. It is a privilege to play the brilliant scientist, Phil Jones, whose own private world was so threatened from outside and whose research and efforts have been so vital globally in combating the effects of climate change. 

Owen Sheers says:

“The Trick is both a story of a particular moment in time, and a story for our times. The events that came to be known as Climategate were a powerful coalescence of forces that have since shaped much of our last decade. At its heart, however, this is also a story about the people caught at the eye of a new kind of storm, and how in the end despite attack from all sides, the integrity and truth of their important work won through.”

Adrian Bate, Producer for Vox Pictures, adds:

“The Trick is a thriller that gives us a unique opportunity to convey the dangers of climate change through the prism of a drama that is both chilling and true. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to the debate surrounding the biggest challenge the world has ever faced, especially in the lead up to COP26.”

There’s more on the thriller here

The “Climategate” computer hacking scandal that rocked the scientific world is to be made into a BBC film. Hackers stole thousands of emails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Norwich in 2009. The Trick will tell the story of the professor, who was director of the Climatic Research Unit. Prof Jones became the victim of cyber terrorism with stolen emails used by human-induced climate change deniers to promote their view of global warming ahead of an international conference.

Whattowatch has more:

With time running out to save the planet, The Trick on BBC1 looks at the devastating consequences some leaked emails from climate change scientists had on those trying to prevent the crisis. Here’s everything you need to know about the one-off drama…. At present the release date for The Trick is being kept strictly under wraps… in terms of the battle against climate change, the film can’t be screened soon enough. 

And goes on to provide the real story behind the plot…

The Trick on BBC1 follow the events of 2009 when Professor Philip Jones headed up the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, from which several emails were hacked and leaked to the public. Climate change deniers falsely used these as evidence that Professor Jones and his fellow researchers were faking the evidence that the planet was heating up to dangerous levels. 

He faced a barrage of hate, including death threats, and it set back attempts to halt climate change for around a decade. The impact on Professor Jones himself was huge. “Within a day or two reporters were outside my house, knocking on my neighbours’ doors, digging for dirt,” he recalls. “I got hundreds of abusive and threatening emails. I knew the accusations were nonsense. But my health deteriorated. I found it difficult to sleep and eat. I was under intense, spiralling pressure and felt I was falling to pieces. Looking back, I suppose I was having some kind of a nervous breakdown.”

According to Entertainmentdaily, Jerome Flynn plays former tabloid editor and PR executive Neil Wallis who represented the University of East Anglia during Climategate, and George MacKay plays his associate.

In an odd way this is cheering news. Jones has presumably given his permission for this massive intrusion into what the media describe as “his private life.” Since exposing traumatic events that caused you suicidal thoughts on prime time TV would obviously risk a recurrence of the trauma, I think we can safely say that Phil’s suicidal thoughts never existed, that they were a convenient lie enabling Phil to avoid difficult questioning from the Parliamentary Committee and the press. Which I’m sure makes us all feel better. Nice one Phil.

[Added following Alan Kendall’s comment below.

Following Alan’s comments, I accept that Jones may well have had suicidal thoughts, and I apologise to him and to his wife for suggesting that he was lying on this subject. I repeat that I find it cheering in an odd way that he now feels well enough to let the BBC tell the story that led to his unfortunate mental suffering, and I look forward to discovering how much of Jones’ lies, obfuscation, conspiratorial plotting to circumvent IPCC rules, and illegal destruction of data is revealed in the BBC’s drama.]

The main proponents of this “thriller,” apart from the wreck of the ex-pseudo-scientist himself, are apparently his loyal wife and two public relations consultants. No mention of Briffa, Mann, Harry “Read Me,” or indeed any of the “human-induced climate deniers” (???) who are the villains of the piece. Since any attempt to portray them in the terms suggested by the above synopses would be potentially libellous, it seems probable that Steve McIntyre etc. will remain a mysterious “they,” conspiring in the shadows, while the real drama plays out between a suffering scientist, his loyal wife, and his PR men. It really tells you all you need to know about the play, the BBC, and climate science.


  1. Cyber terrorism? The leaks would probably have been described as whistle blowing had the BBC approved of them.

    As for the secret release date, my money is on just before or during COP26.

    Alan Kendall, will you take one for the team and watch it? It will be interesting to see how close you think it gets to the truth. I’m assuming an emotional and sensational version that makes absolutely no attempt to tell the real story.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I take particular exception to the comment “ I think we can safely say that Phil’s suicidal thoughts never existed,”. When the meeting took place where we were asked to reserve comment until after the University had investigated and agreed an approach (mentioned in my Climategate’s aftermath..” article) Phil Jones appeared as a seemingly shattered man. He looked haggard, truly terrible. I have no doubt he could have been very close to suicidal. His wife, I believe, confirmed the effect of the bilge of hatred he was exposed to. I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to doubt his word on this matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    Apologies. Obviously, I take your word for it, and will amend the article. I wouldn’t take the word of anyone else involved, since everyone – the scientists, the journalists, (except for George Monbiot, who suffered 24 hours of lucidity before caving in) the politicians, and the great and the good involved in the “enquiries” – proved to be liars. Do we know anything about the “bilge of hatred” he was exposed to? Anyone who says or does anything controversial gets nasty emails, often including threats of violence. In many cases (e.g. Lewandowsky, Mann) these emails then get weaponised and used against critics. It’s necessary in the interest of fair debate to call out this behaviour when possible – but how?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Keith Briffa and I at the time discussed some of the more objectionable emails he received (although I never actually was shown any). I expect Phil got more and worse, being Head of CRU at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the way that the Chernobyl mess was cleaned up and make the watching of this drama a team effort. If we agree to divide the programme up into 90 second chunks we could act as a team of bio robots in which none of us is exposed to a lethal dose of bullshit. I volunteer to watch the bit where they trick the audience into believing that tricking an audience is just a harmless mathematical algorithm.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. JOHN
    I’ll be watching the whole thing with fascination if I can. (Anyone know how I can get hold of a pirate copy? It won’t be available in Europe for copyright reasons.)

    Cultural versions of the climate catastrophe narrative are always interesting because they show most clearly how we’re expected to view the thing, without reality intruding. The BBC is making an enormous fuss in the Radio Times, insisting on the quality of the actors, writer etc.) and this is obviously going to be their big Pre-COP foreplay. Why they think anyone will be interested in a story about how some bloke got depressed because someone stole his emails 12 years ago is a mystery. Unless they can turn Steve McIntyre into a Dr No-like figure I don’t see how it’s going to hold us spellbound for 90 minutes. And apparently the co-stars play the PR men! Ex-News of the World editor as white knight hero – I don’t get it. Now UEA CRU played as a comedy series, somewhere between Dad’s Army and the Office – that would be promising.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Oh I will watch all of it. How can I avoid seeing a “reenactment “ of my own history? Oddly, an even older part of my history is the background for a new series – Ridley Road, about fascism in East London. At the time the story took place I was an undergraduate at Queen Mary College when Moseley and his fascists wanted to parade through the Jewish parts of East London. I was one of hundreds, if not thousands who blocked his way. Exciting times and fabulous Union debates with impassioned speeches about free speech, right of assembly and the rights of inhabitants. I suppose today I would need to be a climate change activist to generate the same degree of righteous indignation.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Richard, it’s not a dumb question. However, the BBC is remaining tight-lipped about a screening date. I repeat my earlier comment – I’d put money on it being just before or during COP 26. After all, it has no doubt been made quite deliberately as part of the COP 26 propaganda effort.


  9. Mark. Oddly symmetrical if true. The original release of the emails was clearly timed to interfere, with maximum effect, just before the Copenhagen Climate meeting and ensured nothing substantial was ever agreed. But I very much doubt if a screenplay about Climategate can ever be as effective as the original was.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. My first choice to play Phil Jones would be Steve Buscemi followed by second choice William H. Macy just to hear either one deliver the line:

    We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. MIKE
    That outburst was to Warwick Hughes and publicised several years before Climategate. So we knew all we needed to know about Jones before the emails were published, i.e. that he hasn’t the foggiest idea what science is, and therefore what he’s supposed to be doing. He seems to think “his” data is like his tax return or his lifedrawing from his art therapy class – something he can conceal or exhibit with pride as he feels.

    I doubt that you or Holland or McIntyre or any other sceptic will be quoted by name, because it would have to be defamatory, otherwise they have no story. According to the BBC’s description of their docu-drama, sceptics are guilty of cyberterrorism, persecution, undermining confidence in science and truth, and devastating consequences to humanity that set back progress ten years. If it weren’t for you lot we’d already be riding round in electric cars in a green wind-driven utopia. Somehow they have to meld this story with the fact that there was nothing wrong in the emails.What satanic powers do you have that it took all the wisdom of an ex-editor of the News of the World to turn back the Forces of Darkness? Or, how do you rewrite Faust without naming Mephistopheles, or saying anything defamatory about him?

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Wow! If, according to the BBC, I, as one of the resident sceptics (aka wicked deniers), was “guilty of cyberterrorism, persecution, undermining confidence in science and truth, and devastating consequences to humanity that set back progress ten years”, it’s a wonder I had any time for any of my own work.

    Perhaps we denierists could be the next Bond villains.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Mark: Cyber terrorism? The leaks would probably have been described as whistle blowing had the BBC approved of them.””

    I used to comment/troll Jerry Taylor’s (of the Niskanen Center) sparsely responded to tweets. Before he blocked me, deleted his account and scurried away, I managed to get one response from him when I compared Climategate to the Pentagon Papers:

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Back in 2014-15 I did some Climategate movie role casting for a comment thread at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

    and Watts Up With That

    Liked by 3 people

  15. People aren’t angry enough about this. They’re using your licence money to make lying propaganda at your expense. I’m writing a complaint to the BBC, (you’re allowed to complain about programmes you haven’t seen) pointing out that any suggestions that “deniers” conducted cyberterrorism, persecuted Jones, or led to truth taking a back seat etc. are defamatory and risk legal action, should they name the “deniers,” quote them, or make any references that can lead to them being identified. And that goes for quotes from the writer, director, actors etc. On the other hand if they don’t quote or identify deniers, the programme has no substance, no evidence, and ceases to be reality-based, and the complaint will be that this is pure fiction masquerading as documentary. That should keep the lawyers busy and possibly lead to fraught last minute decision making in the cutting room.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Geoff,

    I don’t think there is much danger of the bad guys being named. The drama will work better if they are seen as an organised evil working in the shadows. There may be some vague references to Big Oil but I don’t think there will be a Dr Evil in the cast. As for litigation, I’m sure their legal team will have already come up with a suitable disclaimer to be presented in Times Roman 0.5. You know the sort of thing: ‘Some scenes may have been made up’ and ‘Some characters may be an amalgamation’, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I will be very interested if they will try to depict the ENV staff meeting where the release of the emails was first discussed and Phil appeared to us, as I’ve already said as a seemingly broken man. Also of interest will be if they show a staff member leaving in disgust (= me) and the actor depicted as Keith Briffa defending my action. Flying pigs.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Gosh, suddenly I have been given the power to “like”. How did I find out, l liked myself, trying to find out who had liked me!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. There was something behind that apparently glib retort to Alan (whose increased facility on Cliscep is a matter of rejoicing for me). Last week I completed Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works, which I consider Matt’s masterwork. Among many insights he shows how too many innovators wasted much of their lives and money on intellectual property disputes, after they had made such a signal contribution to humanity. They had first mover advantage, after all, and they should (mostly) have gone with that. Lawyers are such bad news. (Sorry, Mark.) It struck me that many of these incredibly useful human beings were, alas, partly driven by narcissism.

    As for Phil Jones, and his inability to use Microsoft Excel properly, I would replace incredibly useful by mediocre. The mediocre hero, with oodles of self-pity, aided and abetted by spin doctor Neil Wallis. Sounds like magnificent entertainment!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. The Trick will be shown on BBC1 Monday October 18 at 8.30pm. According to

    “Jason Watkins stars as Professor Philip Jones who was persecuted when some sections of the media picked up on the emails.” Jason says: “It’s a privilege to play the brilliant scientist Phil Jones, whose own private world was so threatened from outside and whose research and efforts have been so vital globally in combatting the effects of climate change.”

    How twenty years of totting up temperatures and dividing by the number of thermometers counts as a vital effort to combat the effects of climate change is not clear to me.

    Other people portrayed in the film include: Phil’s supportive wife Ruth; Sam Bowen “who worked in PR and helped Professor Jones reveal the truth to the world;” Neil Wallis, Edward Acton, Acton’s wife Stella Acton, Trevor Davies, Gareth Ellman, DS Anita Gupta, Sir David King, DSI Julian Gregory and Richard Girling.

    Here’s a reminder of a couple of statements at the time by two of the people featured in the film, both taken from Alex Cull’s excellent site

    Professor Edward Acton: Well, I think the University has been through a turbulent time, because a lot of mud has been flung at it. I think that it has been difficult during that period. But two things have happened. One is homage has been paid to the world-historic significance of the work done here, alerting the species that there is a terrible problem. And the other is that its science has been found entirely honest and reliable. So I think that combination, if you were to make a prediction, is probably ultimately beneficial.

    And here’s Trevor Davies’s answer to George Monbiot’s question: “Why was CRU’s response to this issue such a total car crash?”

    … we here’s need to be much more aware of the interactions between the blogosphere and the mainstream media, and contribute to identifying the public space where debates can be conducted on appropriate terms… It’s not clear to us at this stage what that would be, but we do intend to take part in some initiatives later on this year…”

    Dunno what Trevor at UEA ever did to interact with the blogosphere, but the BBC’s reaction in this film seems to be to ignore it entirely.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thanks Richard. I can’t get Iplayer because I haven’t got a license. Also being abroad means I’m not allowed to because of international rights. The preview page has this blurb that goes considerably further in its claims.

    Conspiracy thriller based on the events of the ‘Climategate’ scandal in 2009. Professor Phil Jones and his team of climatologists at the University of East Anglia find that their work has been hacked by climate change deniers and turned into the first big fake-news story. The deniers and corporations with vested interests skillfully create the image of climate change as a conspiracy being perpetrated by academic scientists. Although an inquiry concludes that there was no case for Jones and his team to answer, it has taken a decade for the public perception of the veracity of climate change to recover.

    So not only did the deniers do the (non-existent) hacking, they also conspired with corporations to spread fake news in the first big fake news story. This is craziness gone mad.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. The BBC’s synopsis for The Trick is as predictable as it is dismaying.

    My only question for the BBC is this: When did the truth stop mattering to you?

    Liked by 3 people

  23. JOHN
    The short answer is 2016 with the Brexit referendum. The disbelief, the long-suppressed sense of moral and intellectual superiority exploding in a hatred of the Chavs had its exact equivalent with the Democrats and the Deplorables on the victory of Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. To give credit where credit’s due, it was Ian Woolley who pointed me to what I think we can faily call the BBC’s ‘first big fake-news story’ after I mentioned this post. After a mere twelve years, aren’t they doing well?

    Like the local cat that regularly invites me to tickle its tummy, then bites me when I try, I think the outrageousness of the retelling could still backfire. (Goebbels and the claimed efficacy of the Big Lie notwithstanding.)

    Ian used to go to the same pub/wine bar/drinking den as Owen Sheers, the writer and producer, in Cardiff days. I’ll maybe try and twist his arm to give us his take.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Barry Woods is tweeting that “Trick” author Owen Sheers writes for / belongs to Extinction Rebellion. I think his source is la Zara Zapata but I can never tell who’s quoting who on Twitter, with them all chirping at once.


  26. Barry,

    I’ve had a quick listen to the podcast and I think I can help you out with a transcript extract that captures the essential points:

    “Engage, engage, narrative, engage, narrative, narrative, engage, narrative.”

    I think that is essentially it.

    Oh, I almost forgot. There was something about an “emotional and philosophical map”.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. John, sorry, couldn’t hear you due to the yawning.

    Barry, talking of Writers Rebel, I was deeply unimpressed by this from Stephen Fry a year ago

    The Denier word out in force from a Jewish supporter of David Baddiel’s excellent recent book Jews Don’t Count.

    I won’t say more now. (Thanks again to Ian Woolley, a great fan of Stephen Fry in days gone by, for the pointer.)


  28. Richard,

    It is clear that when Fry uses the ‘d’ word, he does so knowingly, intending it to carry just as much opprobrium as it does when used in the context of Holocaust denial. National treasures gotta do what national treasures gotta do .

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I did think of reporting Fry to YouTube for supporting a terrorist organization.

    Are XR still officially terrorists????


  30. BARRY
    Thanks for the links. I’m transcribing both Sheers and Fry. It’s odd hearing intelligent men recite banalities we’ve been listening to for 15 years as if they’d just invented them.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Here’s the relevant extract about “The Trick” from the Sheers podcast linked by Barry above:

    The 90 minute BBC drama is about a series of events that became known as Climategate, which was back in 2009, when the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit had their emails hacked. Extracts from these emails were published on-line in such a way as to make it look as though climate science was cooking the books. And so as you can hear it was a very early coalescence of so many of the forces that have actually shaped the last ten years. Cybercrime, a mistrust of experts and science, and the sharp end of what has been an ongoing campaign against climate science, certainly since the early 1980s. And these email extracts went absolutely viral. They went all across the world. The University of East Anglia did its best to very quickly point out that there wasn’t any truth in these allegations at all, but it was already too late. It was sort of too late within 24 hours. They were kind of drowned out by a global sigh of relief if you like.

    So I chose to write about that because that happened at a very interesting time. Obama had just come into power, it was three weeks before the COP in Copenhagen where there was a real hope that the world would finally make agreements on limiting greenhouse gases, so it came at a vital point in I suppose the global storytelling of climate change, and it shows how fragile that story was. Because three separate studies have proved that those events, combined with various other smaller campaigns about that time, knocked public opinion back on climate by about ten years. It was successful in knocking us back ten years. The reason I wanted to tell it now I suppose was twofold: I was given access to the scientists and the people at the heart of this story, and yes, their story is about fighting for the story of science to be heard, but really it’s a very emotional story of families under stress, which I hope achieves what I spoke about earlier, which goes to the very human core of these kind of moments.
    But I also wanted to tell it now because I feel that we’re at a similar moment in the story of climate change, of the global telling of that story. We’re at a moment when change feels possible. And I suppose I wanted to sort of raise a flag and say: you know, let’s not get complacent. Things can still come along and sort of knock things off track.

    I’ve emphasised ten points which I think are plainly false:
    1) there was no evidence of hacking
    2) Extracts weren’t published. The whole load was published in its entirely, (by Watts?) precisely to counter accusations of cherry picking
    3) “Cooking the books” wasn’t the issue, but rather hiding or threatening to destroy data
    4) there was no evidence of cybercrime
    5) there was no “ongoing campaign against climate science since the 80s”
    6) UEA didn’t react very quickly, but very slowly
    7) If indeed UEA claimed that “ there wasn’t any truth in these allegations” (did they?) this is irrelevant. Critics didn’t make allegations. They let the emails speak for themselves
    8) The “global sigh of relief” is entirely in Sheers’ imagination. I suppose he means that people were glad they didn’t have to worry about climate change, because the science had been somehow refuted. But this is not what happened.
    9) Obama had been in power for ten months, but what did that have to do with anything?
    10) What are these three separate studies, and how can they possibly establish the number of years by which public opinion was knocked back? The “x separate studies have proved..” meme I’ve only heard in relation to the proof that Phil Jones is a modern saint. Could Sheers be confounding proof of Jones’ innocence with proof of his critics’ guilt?

    Have I got anything wrong there?

    Liked by 2 people

  32. All I’d correct Geoff is an aside: that Watts didn’t ‘publish the whole load’ – the whistleblower themselves did, by putting the zip file containing all the emails on a public server for anyone to download. Which a lot of people did, right away, once we all realised how big this was. So you’re right that ‘extracts … were published’ was wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Going back to Sheers, and the XR position generally, how is it that Private Eye could mock an official inquiry this much in 2004 yet it’s not possible to question the Climategate ones?


  34. Geoff I would be more circumspect with regard to your item 2 “Extracts weren’t published. The whole load was published in its entirely, (by Watts?) precisely to counter accusations of cherry picking”.
    Somebody cherry picked by making a selection of emails that was in the server. Then they made a selection of those and that selection was the content of Climategate. Much later a further selection was released and became known as Climategate II. Much later still the remainder of the emails apparently were distributed to a limited number of people with climate interests (I was not one of them, and I have failed to discover if any of those in the third batch related to yours’ truly).

    There is much speculation and debate as to who made the selections, ranging from a hacker discovering an existing selection made by CRU in anticipation of answering a FOI demand, to somebody within CRU sending a pre-selected batch out to someone who would know what to do with it.

    Also, the email release was not authorised (even if it was an internal job) therefore it could be classed as a crime and thus a cybercrime.

    Finally will everything refer to the emails, totally ignoring the Read-me file? Personally I found the latter by far the most damaging. I suspect it won’t even be mentioned in “The Trick”.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Alan,

    Your point is well taken regarding the process of selection and release. These details are important. Similarly, you are right that a whistleblowing release is still technically a cybercrime. However, despite these errors, I still think that Geoff has drawn attention to two important points. The first is that Sheers claims that the selective release was done “in such a way as to make it look as though…” In fact, there is nothing to suggest that anything was taken out of context or juxtaposed to create an effect. Secondly, the specific cybercrime to which Sheers refers is hacking. This is important to his ‘narrative’ because the actions of a concerned whistle-blower are much more difficult to demonise.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. John. I cannot disagree with anything you have written. Some of the basics should be undisputed, like Climategate being viewed as a crime, whether by someone within CRU releasing the emails without authorisation, someone unintentionally coming across a stash of emails and then realising their importance, or a deliberate hack of CRU data files. The fact that it involved a computer puts it into the scary class of being a cybercrime.

    As to your statement that “there is nothing to suggest that anything was taken out of context or juxtaposed to create an effect.” I profoundly disagree. The emails for Climategate I were deliberately selected to tell certain stories but were not deliberately juxtaposed. The email releasers left it to sceptics to put those stories together. Exceedingly clever strategy in my book. And didn’t we sceptics lap it up, cross checking initially to establish if the emails were genuine. Even the likes of Monbiot reconstructed some of the stories and, for a short time were appalled and, reached appropriate conclusions.

    I have long felt that consideration of Climategate needs to be more nuanced, because it was. The BBC will probably blunder about giving the hacking-mistreatment of CRU storyline. If sceptics are wise they will hold their fire for a short period until the more nuanced story can emerge (just before COP opens might be good).

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Alan,

    I’m all for taking the nuanced approach. However, where you see a profound disagreement, I see a much more subtle one. The subtlety, as I see it, is the distinction to be made between a cherry-picking exercise designed to invite a misinterpretation of the meaning of the emails, and a filtering out of emails that are deemed irrelevant to the interpretation of those included. Of course, those whose interests lie in the direction of creating a broader narrative will wish to go beyond interpretation and will seek to draw inference. Whether or not those inferences were engineered by the emails’ discloser is surely also a matter of conjecture.


  38. Again John I suspect we are actually agreeing but are using different words to express the same thing. You contrast “1. a cherry-picking exercise designed to invite a misinterpretation of the meaning of the emails, and 2. a filtering out of emails that are deemed irrelevant to the interpretation of those included”. Supporters of CRU and its detractors view the same exercise in these two different ways. Thus exactly the same activity can be viewed in these two different lights. Without knowing who was responsible for the security breach it is impossible to discern their true motives and whether the email selection had a motive other than th the e removal of irrelevant and extraneous material.

    Actually what I was meaning about being more nuanced about Climategate has much more to it than just the selection of emails. I’ll wait until The Trick has been broadcast to offer my opinion and to develop further my view that most sceptic views are insufficiently nuanced, and we might then renew our discussion.


  39. Alan,

    I look forward to the opportunity to return to this debate after The Trick has been pulled — sorry, aired.


  40. ALAN (10 Oct 21 4.55pm)

    You’re right I should have been more circumspect about “cybercrime” since that may be what it was (though “whistleblowing” is another way of describing the same thing. And is publishing evidence of a possible crime – destroying material subject to a FOIA request – itself a crime?) I was confusing “cybercrime” with the term “cyberterrorism” which was also used by the BBC – obviously deliberately, ,in order to confuse simpleminded people like me.

    The “context” argument is absolutely false. It was precisely the bloggers who provided the context which makes sense of the emails, and reveals the seriousness of the matter. Destroying an email, or changing the date on a paper, or keeping an article out of magazine might seem fairly innocent examples of academic bitchiness, until you add the context of work on an international report aimed at guiding the world’s affairs for the rest of the century. That the three (I didn’t know there was a third) batches of emails had been winnowed seems to me irrelevant. As far as I know the two theories are that the hacker/whistleblower went through them eliminating the irrelevant and the personal (an enormous task) or that they found them in that state, presumably as a load to be thrown away, or as a secret stash of mails already deleted. Did anyone ever look to see if the emails were still in place on the computers of the relevant people?


  41. Surprise, surprise…..:

    “‘This is a story that needs to be told’: BBC film tackles Climategate scandal
    Scientist Philip Jones is resigned, but ready for a fresh wave of abuse when drama The Trick tries to put the record straight on accusations that he falsified data on global heating”

    Climategate “scandal”. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Er, no…..

    “Twelve years ago, Professor Philip Jones was subject to a barrage of hate mail and death threats that pushed him close to suicide. Emails, hacked from his laboratory, proved climate change research was a fraud, it was claimed.

    Now Jones faces a repeat of that grim onslaught when the BBC One film, The Trick, is screened on 18 October. It will tell the story, sympathetically, of his tribulations at the hands of climate change deniers.

    “At the time, the mail was awful. Everyone was attacking me and I couldn’t deal with it. I got Christmas cards filled with obscenities and, to this day – on the November anniversary of the hacking – I still get a couple of offensive messages,” Jones told the Observer last week.

    “After The Trick is screened I expect there will be a new wave of abuse. However, I accept the risk because this is a story that needs to be told.”

    Jones was head of the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University in Norwich in 2009 when hackers stole thousands of documents and emails from its computers. Their contents were then carefully selected and used by climate change deniers to promote the idea that scientists were falsely alleging fossil fuel emissions were warming the planet. Subsequent inquiries rejected all these allegations.

    “It was a manufactured controversy,” said Owen Sheers, screenwriter of The Trick. “There was a definite strategy at work and a massive disinformation campaign. Yet, when I talk to those who remember any of it now, most still think a scientist really did get caught tweaking the figures.

    “In fact, thousands of documents were stolen and a few extracts were pulled out in an expert way that became the bullets that did the damage,” added Sheers, who is known for books such as The Dust Diaries. Some experts even claim the furore triggered by Climategate – as the hacking affair was later dubbed – played a key role in the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks in December that year.

    Certainly, rightwing newspapers in the UK went to town on the allegations. Headlines included the Daily Mail’s “Scientist in climate ‘cover-up’ told to quit”, while the Daily Express splashed with “The Big Climate Change Fraud”.

    Now, ahead of the Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow in early November, the story is to be resurrected. “It is a cautionary tale, as well as a love story and a bit of a thriller,” said director Pip Broughton. “This is a film for everyone to enjoy, so it does condense some complexities. But it enables anyone to see this man has suffered a great injustice. It is important it’s being shown before the Glasgow climate summit.”…”.

    Make of that what you will.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. “It’s a bit of a thriller.”

    Sounds exciting. I’ll be missing it.

    Their contents were then carefully selected and used by climate change deniers to promote the idea that scientists were falsely alleging fossil fuel emissions were warming the planet.

    Is that actually what happened? On the one hand, I thought at the time that raking through anyone’s email would find things that would portray the sender in an unflattering light. (Instruction to evade FOI possibly beyond the pale.) But if there was valid criticism of the science it was not that global warming was pure invention. It was that the untidy parts of the story were being kept firmly from public view. That is the opposite of science.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. “This is a film for everyone to enjoy…”

    In their dreams.

    “…so it does condense some complexities”.

    You don’t say. I’ll use that one in future, as in:

    “I’m not omitting to tell the truth. I’m just condensing the complexities.”


  44. “When I said I’d only had a couple of non-alcoholic lagers before driving at 100mph the wrong way down the M5, I was just condensing the complexities, officer.”


  45. From the Guardian article quoted by Mark above:

    “…thousands of documents were stolen and a few extracts were pulled out in an expert way that became the bullets that did the damage,” added Sheers

    Hundreds, possibly thousands of damaging emails were “pulled out” by sceptics and examined in detail. It was the warmist media that concentrated attention on “a few extracts” that had been misinterpreted by Sarah Palin and other bugbears of the left.

    There’s also this:

    As to the title of the film, this is a reference to an email that Jones sent to a colleague in which he used the word “trick” to describe a mathematical method of going back to other data to properly describe the historic heat rise. Seized out of context, the word was alleged to prove that Jones and other researchers were fiddling data.

    This blatant lie is by Robin McKie, who’s been the Observer’s science editor for centuries.

    I got my complaint in early, and received a polite reply from the BBC, inviting me to give details once the film is released. They’re promising that it’s a thriller, but how do you write a thriller without mentioning the villains? I’m hoping the result will be so weird that it will raise questions in the minds of viewers and backfire.

    I can’t see the film here in France. Could anyone provide me with a copy, e.g. on a memory stick? I’ll reimburse, of course, or treat you to a meal of barbecued snails and aioli the next time you’re round this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. DFHunter
    Thanks for the link. I’ve started reading the comments, as I have with Eschenbach and will with Jeff Id, Steve Mosher etc. Half an hour after McIntyre’s article went up, people were making dozens of intelligent suggestions about what was happening. And the BBC wants to persuade the world that it’s all about a wronged scientist saved by a supportive wife and a PR consultant from the News of the World.

    The difference between us and them is curiosity. We’re interested. They don’t want to know. And with a clever writer they can spread the Big Lie without actually lying. You could write a history of the second world war as a drama featuring Winston Churchill, his supportive wife, and his brown miniature poodle Rufus. And a complaint to the BBC would be met with the defence that nothing was actually false.


  47. “He used the word “trick” to refer to a mathematical method”.

    This is the part that I find the most scandalous and perplexing. How is it that the apologists were able to hide Jones behind such a flimsy piece of nonsense and yet it work so splendidly?

    I suspect that Andy West has the answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Geoff,

    It’s funny that you should mention Churchill. Wasn’t it he who said “History will be kind to me since I intend writing it myself”? It’s the victor’s prerogative.

    Liked by 4 people

  49. Geoff – I have downloaded a copy which I can send if you give me your email address.


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