Norfolk Police in Britain has closed its investigation into the hack and leak of more than 1000 emails that spawned ‘Climategate’, without any prosecutions.
The security breach that rocked climate change science ahead of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, was a “sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack” on the University of East Anglia Climate Research Centre servers “carried out remotely via the internet”, according to Norfolk Police.
The police have ruled out an insider job, but concluded their investigation because the “international dimension” made finding them unrealistic within the time constraints.
“Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law,” senior investigating officer, detective chief superintendent Julian Gregory said in a statement.
Expert help enlisted for the investigation included the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, the National Domestic Extremism Team, the Police Central e-crime Unit and “online security” and investigation consultants.
Some observers, however, question how seriously the investigation conducted by Norfolk Police was taken, with its funding appearing to dry up in 2011.
Some of the leaked emails appeared to contain evidence of a global warming conspiracy amongst man-made climate change scientists, the most damning of which were written by Professor Phil Jones, research director of the CRU.
Other leading climate scientists later independently backed up the CRU’s research, which Professor Edward Acton, vice chancellor of East Anglia, today said had “vindicated our scientists, who have returned to their important task of providing the best possible scientific information on this globally critical issue.”
However, he conceded the leak had damaged the reputation of climate science.
“The misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails – including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee - did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change,” said Prof Acton.
Prof Jones said he remained committed to the CRU’s research and hoped the investigation’s closure “will draw a line under the stressful events of the last two and half years”.