Photo: World Economic ForumThere have been countless independent investigations into the scientists whose emails were hacked in November 2009. And the scientists have been (quietly) vindicated every time.
But we still don’t know who hacked the emails! And now we know that one of the key investigative bodies tasked with tracking down the hackers — Scotland Yard — was compromised at the time.
How were they compromised? Neil Wallis — the former News of the World executive editor — became a “£1,000 ($1,613) a day” consultant to Scotland Yard in October 2009. Last week, he became the ninth person arrested in the metastasizing News Corporation scandal “on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977.”
Certainly Wallis had plenty of motive to join Scotland Yard just to keep an eye on the investigation into the phone-hacking scandal. Indeed, The New York Times reports Wallis “was reporting back to News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case.” But this also suggests how corrupt Wallis was — and how corrupted Scotland Yard was.
In the light of the News Corp phone-hacking scandal, it is clear that Murdoch’s outfit had means, motive, and opportunity for the Climategate email hacking. News Corp certainly has a history of defaming climate scientists and a penchant for hacking.
Indeed, in this country, a division of News Corp had a federal case brought against it for “hacking its way into Floorgraphics’s password protected computer system.” The complaint said News America had “illegally accessed plaintiff’s computer system and obtained proprietary information” and “disseminated false, misleading and malicious information about the plaintiff.” Sounds familiar, no?
After a few days of testimony, News Corp “settled with Floorgraphics for $29.5 million and then, days later, bought it, even though it reportedly had sales of less than $1 million.” This behavior simply wasn’t a big shock to News Corp.
So News Corp would obviously now be on the top of anybody’s short list of possible suspects in the Climategate hacking. At the same time, we now know things were so cozy between News Corp, Wallis, and Scotland Yard that it is hard to believe News Corp would have been thoroughly investigated for Climategate, if they were investigated at all.
How cozy? Staff at News Corp’s News of the World tabloid apparently routinely paid off members of the Metropolitan Police Service, aka Scotland Yard — payments that were “condoned” by then-editor Andy Coulson, who later became chief spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron.
How cozy? The Guardian dropped this bombshell Friday: “Scotland Yard’s most senior officers tried to convince the Guardian during two private meetings that its coverage of phone hacking was exaggerated and incorrect without revealing they had hired Neil Wallis.” Scotland Yard shilling for News Corp? I don’t think people would have believed this had they seen it in a blockbuster movie.
How cozy? As The New York Times explains, the Yard hardly investigated the phone hacking scandal, ignoring mountains of evidence for years.
And then we have the social coziness:
Executives and others at the company also enjoyed close social ties to Scotland Yard’s top officials. Since the hacking scandal began in 2006, Mr. Yates [the assistant commissioner] and others regularly dined with editors from News International papers, records show. Sir Paul Stephenson, the police commissioner, met for meals 18 times with company executives and editors during the investigation, including on eight occasions with Mr. Wallis while he was still working at The News of the World …
Just after Christmas last year Sir Paul recovered from surgery at a Champneys Spa in Hertfordshire, and his $19,000 bill was paid by a friend, the spa’s managing partner, Sky News reported. Sir Paul learned Saturday that Mr. Wallis had worked as a public-relations consultant for the spa …
So I think it is quite safe to say that it is unlikely Scotland Yard pursued any serious investigation into the possibility that News Corp was involved in Climategate.
Now, it is entirely possible that News Corp wasn’t involved. But there is no way of knowing until we get a thorough and independent investigation.
Here’s one more astrological coincidence of the highest order: In October 2009, Wallis became a senior consultant to Outside Organisation — a PR firm and crisis management agency, which … wait for it … “was used by the [University of East Anglia] following the Climategate scandal.”
What’s funny is that if you go over to the denier sites, like Climate Audit, the hiring of Wallis’s firm by the University of East Anglia (UEA)’s Climatic Research Unit is somehow further evidence of their corruption, that they were trying to carry out “covert” operations to clear their name. One article reports:
Wallis led on the University of East Anglia “climategate” job, when Outside was drafted in to help the university’s Climatic Research Unit defend itself against charges of scientific misconduct.
In fact, most people think that UEA’s crisis management was catastrophically bad for months — “covert” is a good word for it, though I prefer “virtually nonexistent.” I can’t imagine wanting to put on your resume that you were the guy in charge of UEA’s PR after Climategate. It’d be like saying you advised President Bush on how to handle PR around his response to Hurricane Katrina. Of course, Wallis won’t be getting many PR jobs for the foreseeable future.
Whether there is anything more than just extreme coincidence in Wallis leading on UEA’s Climategate defense, I do know that when the deniers say it is cooling, you can be certain it is warming, and when they say there is no smoke, you can be sure it is a hellish, record-breaking wildfire.
In any case, it is time for an independent investigation into the Climategate email hacking. We now know that for four years, Scotland Yard sat on evidence suggesting the phones of “nearly 4,000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and crime victims” had been hacked.
So the Climategate investigation should not involve Scotland Yard, and should investigate whether News Corp had any involvement. It could start by investigating whether News Corp hacked the phone of any climate scientists.