U.K. Police Seize Computers in Climate E-mails Investigation, U.S. Joins In

Blasted by media and scientists alike for their slow investigation into the hacker who stole a trove of e-mails from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia in 2009, police in the U.K. city of Norfolk have now taken a visible step in that investigation, apparently with some help from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). On Wednesday, investigators served British climate skeptic blogger Roger Tattersall with a search warrant and seized several computers and hard drives from his home in Yorkshire: two laptops and a router, Tattersall said in his blog, Tallbloke. The Tallbloke blog was among one of several climate skeptic blogs that received a link to 5000 of the alleged 220,000 purloined e-mails from a hacker known as FOIA2011 on 22 November.

A Norfolk police spokesperson declined to make anyone available for questions, but said in a statement that the search was "one line of enquiry for the investigation into the taking of data from the UEA that started in November 2009" and said that no arrests had been made. Tattersall himself is not a suspect, according to the statement.

The night before the seizures, Tattersall wrote on his blog, he received a notification from the blogging platform Wordpress that the company had been asked by the U.S. DOJ to retain records of "all stored communications" from Tattersall's blog and two others: the U.S.-based No Consensus blog, run by Jeff Id, and the Canadian blog Climate Audit, run by Steve McIntyre. The information included IP addresses, e-mail and phone communications, and credit card numbers of those associated with each site. Tattersall declined to comment about the police motivations, but told ScienceInsider that he is cooperating with the police since they won't find anything on his hard drives.

In an e-mail to ScienceInsider, Id, the U.S. blogger, said that he had not been contacted by DOJ, but said he would find such a raid intimidating and questioned what the police hoped to find. "The only things they could find on Roger's computer that they can't get from Wordpress (our collective blog host company) would be direct communications with the FOIA group which I have not had, and I am certain that others haven't either," he wrote. "The link was dropped on our blogs by an unknown person and becomes public the moment it is dropped. There is no mechanism for us to prevent this kind of thing. … We are simply climate bloggers who got a link showing the corruption of climate science in full view."

In the meantime, Christopher Monckton, a hereditary lord and well-known climate skeptic, wrote in an editorial that the episode has driven him to start crowdsourcing cases of alleged fraud by climate scientists and intends to pursue a legal case against them. "No complaints can be lodged against the IPCC or the UNFCCC, for they are beyond any national jurisdiction," he wrote. "However, individual 'scientists' can be brought to book in the countries where they normally reside."