ANU have stifled any further attempt to reach the truth in this matter, having (a) refused to comment any further through their media office; and (b) quoted nearly $40k to search through their documents for the further evidence I have requested – a ridiculous amount clearly intended to thwart my request.
You’d think they’d have a big red file labelled “Death Threats” on a shelf somewhere, but apparently not. The threats were so serious (allegedly) that they kept no easily accessible records and will need to spend over 2500 man hours trawling through all their documents. Bizarre.
This signals the end of the line. I could appeal the quoted fee, but to be honest, I don’t have the inclination to pursue the matter any further.
Chris Merritt pens the final summary in The Australian:
ATTEMPTS to verify last year’s sensational reports of death threats against climate change scientists have been stymied by the Australian National University, which wants to be paid at least $37,800 to search its records for evidence that would support those reports.
The university has justified that fee by asserting that the search would take 2520 hours and occupy six employees for 60 days working seven-hours a day at $15 an hour.
ANU has also given notice that the final bill could be even higher as it would need to include an additional sum to cover the cost of deciding whether to make available the results of the search. Before it starts looking, the university wants a deposit of $9450.
The money demanded by ANU has forced lawyer and climate change blogger Simon Turnill to abandon his latest attempt to check the veracity of the assertions.
“I don’t know how they have arrived at this figure of over 2500 hours of work to identify these documents,” Mr Turnill said.
“The simplest option would be for ANU to come out and admit honestly what was received and what was not received. Making us go through an endless succession of hoops to get to the truth seems a very defensive and strange response.”
As part of his FOI application, Mr Turnill had also sought access to all documents and records containing communications with journalists — particularly those at The Canberra Times — about threats to staff at the university’s Climate Change Institute. (source)
Chris also writes here about the police reports of threats sent to them in 2006, years prior to the story breaking last June, and how statements from the ANU staff concerned, which would have allowed police to investigate further, were never received. The description of the letters provided by police does not tie in with the description supplied by the ANU in its statement.
So I guess we will never know the truth. People will inevitably draw their own conclusions from the evasive manner in which ANU have handled this entire episode, which has done little for openness, honesty and ultimately the credibility of the institution.
Sharing information, whether it be climate data or evidence to back up claims of death threats, seems to be very difficult for our climate scientists.