University of East Anglia Attempts to Put Frighteners on Tallbloke

Posted: March 19, 2013 by tallbloke in alarmism, Blog, FOI, Legal, media, Philosophy, Politics

I’ve received an unsolicited email purporting to be from a legal firm claiming to represent the University of East Anglia. I’d be grateful if a lawyer with DPA experience, sympathetic to the public interest nature of the case, would get in touch here, with a view to forming a professional legal response to this communication – Thanks, TB.


Dear Sir
We act for the University of East Anglia and attach a response to your recent blog posts about a password supplied by ‘Mr FOIA’.
<<Data Protection Act.pdf>>
for Mills & Reeve LLP


The content of the attachment is reproduced below the break. Unusually, It has no header, no signature, no indication of provenance at all. My good lady and I have already been put through the wringer once, and we don’t scare so easily anymore.


Dear Sir
We understand from a blog post made by you on 12 March 2013 that you have either
received an unsolicited email from someone going by the name of ‘Mr FOIA’ or that this has
been forwarded to you. The email from Mr FOIA provides a password to access a
substantial number of documents. It is our understanding from the blog postings which we
have seen that the password does work and that the information can be accessed. We do
not know what information has been made available in this way but have a very real concern
that it may include ‘personal data’. This is data which, under the Data Protection Act 1998,
might enable the identification of a living individual and which is strictly regulated under the
provisions of the Act. Unlike previous releases, and from what we understand from the
publication of Mr FOIA’s email, the information appears to have been left entirely unredacted
or filtered in any way.
The information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained from
the University’s servers in October 2009. The on-going dissemination of any ‘personal data’
obtained in this way would amount to a further criminal offence. Given that the sharing of
the password would enable any third party to access any of the documents there is a very
real danger that personal data will be disclosed in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change but the University must
take steps where information has been obtained illegally and to protect employees and
students at the University as well as third parties from unnecessary harm arising from the
unregulated and widespread disclosure of personal data.
Accordingly, please confirm by return:
• That you will not publish the password with which you have been provided nor the
information it protects
• That you will forward a copy of this notice to any person to whom you have supplied
the password
• That you will not publish any ‘personal data’.
If you are in doubt about what is meant by ‘personal data’ then please follow the attached
link to the Data Protection Act. Please note in particular the provisions of section 17, 21 and


Section 55 of the Data Protection Act states:

Unlawful obtaining etc. of personal data.

A person must not knowingly or recklessly, without the consent of the data controller—

obtain or disclose personal data or the information contained in personal data, or

procure the disclosure to another person of the information contained in personal data.

Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who shows—

that the obtaining, disclosing or procuring—

was necessary for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, or

was required or authorised by or under any enactment, by any rule of law or by the order of a court,

that he acted in the reasonable belief that he had in law the right to obtain or disclose the data or information or, as the case may be, to procure the disclosure of the information to the other person,

that he acted in the reasonable belief that he would have had the consent of the data controller if the data controller had known of the obtaining, disclosing or procuring and the circumstances of it, or

that in the particular circumstances the obtaining, disclosing or procuring was justified as being in the public interest.


I personally believe that disclosure of any relevant content of the material is justified in the public interest, given the billions of pounds of public money spent on the climate scare maintained since the start of the Climategate email chain. Early in that chain, Michael Mann’s paleoclimatology work, including the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ used to scare policy makers into great expense on the public’s behalf, is described as ‘crap’ by other scientists who nonetheless did not speak up in public to allay the fears of impending climate doom it engendered. This is just one example of why the public has a right to know what went on behind the scenes at the heart of the Climate Research Unit and within the IPCC process.

I’ll stand up for the public, because I know the public will stand up for me.

  1. Stephen Richards says:

    Email is not a valid medium for legal demands. No formal header, no formal signature, invalid document. Ignore it. It is probably from a mannian supporter. Otherwise, issue the password worldwide via a Russian server. :))

  2. Peter Champness says:

    Perhaps the responsibility can be turned around! If an interesting email comes up from Climategate3, an FOI request could be made to the UEA to reveal it. Could take quite a while though.

  3. johnbuk says:

    Jeff Condon has had the same email – see

  4. oldbrew says:

    Steer clear of disclosing ‘personal data’ – either directly or by revealing the password – is all they seem to be saying. Climate-related stuff isn’t mentioned.

    So no e-mail addresses, phone numbers etc. or mention of private matters.

  5. philjourdan says:

    I see they really scared you. hehehehe.

  6. vukcevic says:

    TB just phone
    and make sure if genuine.
    My daughter is a solicitor and her emails show various headings and a long disclaimer at the end, with all sorts of things in it.
    Without disclaimer I would assume that the email is a con-job.

  7. tallbloke says:

    Vuk: There is a disclaimer on the email, with various warnings about reproduction. It doesn’t seem to apply to me because I *am* the intended recipient. 🙂
    Mills & Reeve LLP

    This email is confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient please accept our apologies. Please do not disclose, copy, or distribute information in this email nor take any action in reliance on its contents: to do so is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. Please inform us that this message has gone astray before deleting it. Thank you for your co-operation.

  8. Kon Dealer says:

    Memo to the University of Easy Access.

    Sit and swivel.

  9. The tone does make you wonder if there is something in that batch that they are worried about becoming public – and not just personal info. I’d not be surprised if it is a fake.

  10. Only Joking says:

    What if each ‘keyholder’ were each to release a proportional section of the password?

    Another way would be to divide the length of password / (n-x) and each one of n-x puts their section. Each member would then have plausible deniability.

    n= number of keyholders
    x= number that are prepared to divulge part of the code.

  11. Kon Dealer says:

    Mills & Boon (Reeve) are UEA’s solicitors.
    Quite frankly for a nationwide firm, they’re not very good at FOI matters.
    I hear they were turned over in court last year by a layperson on an FOI issue.

  12. vukcevic says:

    It should say:
    If you have received this e-mail in error please inform us immediately by e-mail (or telephone us on</i)
    should also quote DX 4 digit number with a full address and the post code
    Mills & Reeve LLP is a national law firm, and as such do not send sloppy emails.
    Still think it is a con-job.

  13. It must be exceptionally annoying for the warmists to know their enemies with the password know all about ‘it’, but they’re not quite 100% sure what ‘it’ is.
    The longer the password stays in the hands of a few sensible people, the better.

  14. Arfur Bryant says:

    [“The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change…”]

    Ha Ha Ha Ha… LMAO

    So who wrote: “Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!”?


    Courage, mon brave.



  15. Jaime Jessop says:

    Yawn. Infringement of the Data Protection Act and the inadvertent publication of what so and so’s wife is making him for tea on such and such date, is going to be pretty small fry compared to the legal hot water in which some of these conspirators are going to find themselves in when the top finally does blow on the simmering AGW fraud volcano.

  16. Master of puppets says:

    So the they dont know what FOIA means?

  17. Ian W says:

    As I said on Tips and Notes. Find a nugget in the emails – then FOIA them for it. They know you know its there. The Norfolk plod know its there _and_ that the UAE has their mail server back. So now you light a timed fuse and ensure a non-compliance is issued in time so that Phil’s statute of limitations defence does not work. So now he has to produce what you ask for – and he cannot push out an incomplete response as you know what he knows. It will be UAE responding to an FOIA so no illegality when the information is released..

  18. tallbloke says:

    Good thinking Ian. How could they get around that I wonder. Maybe the FOI request would have to come from someone who doesn’t have the password, so they can’t say you’re wasting their time on something you already have the data for.

  19. G. Watkins says:

    Must be worrying for you after your past experience.
    The Challenger programme last night – John Hurt as Richard Feynman – was, to me at least, analogous to the CAGW scam, highlighting the power of big government combined with major companies and money making opportunities. Scary.
    I will stand up for you and admire your attitude.

  20. J Martin says:

    Establish if genuine. Lack of name, signature, header etc suggests it’s a phishing attempt.

    Hopefully one day the key will fall into the public domain. Publishing the key is not the same as publishing private email material or personal matters as once the key is public the emails do not miraculously materialise on the internet. The only emails that get published are those that people post and there is always some sort of audit trail so any blogger or person posting on a blog can be traced.

    I am not a lawyer, but my guess is that making the key public is not an offence under any law. Though I would certainly seek counsel from an appropriate legal expert.

    Hopefully links to the unzipped contents will be published on the internet and those with sufficient time can sift through it all and see if it contains any remaining gems of (climate team) malfeasance.

  21. I got the impression from your initial post on this subject that you don’t have the password, but that you had received a copy of the FOIA email with the password redacted. That being the case then surely this email is irrelevant anyway.

    I assume you’ve analysed the email headers to see if it comes from a plausible source and isn’t another of Gleick’s little jokes?

  22. catweazle666 says:

    As far as I’m aware, threats such as that expressed via emails have no legal status whatsoever.

    To have any chance in a court, it would be necessary to demonstrate that a hard copy of the document had been served to you personally by a recognised baliff or some such.

    Obviously I’d check, but AFAIK that is the legal position.

    And don’t worry, even it is genuine, it just looks like an attempt to put the frighteners on you, if they had any real evidence they would have done more than sent an email.

    Nil illigitimae carborundum!

    PS I doubt very much that they would take it any further anyway, as if they do, any sensitive information would almost certain to end up in the public domain anyway, the last thing they want.

  23. tallbloke says:

    The headers look legit

    Received: from (xx.xx.xx.xx) by (xx.xx.x.xx) with Microsoft SMTP Server id
    xx.xx.xx.xx; Tue, 19 Mar 2013 15:22:19 +0000

    Vuk: The address is on the mail. I didn’t publish it because I don’t want the blame if some disaffected punter enraged on some other matter puts their windows through tonight.

  24. graphicconception says:

    Given the alleged reasons for the acquisition of the emails in the first place I wonder how this stacks up against whistleblowing laws?

  25. graphicconception says:

    The irony is that the only reason they had time to send you an email saying ensure that you don’t release personal data is because you have been taking the time to ensure that personal data was not released.

    FOIA could have chosen to make it a complete free for all. Presumably, he still could?

  26. Chris in Australia says:

    Also posted at the Air Vent.

    I don’t know how lawyers do it in other countries but in Australia, fair dinkum communications from law firms come by registered snail mail. This ensures the delivery of the mail and the sender knows the recipient did in fact receive the mail.

    Like Tallbloke said, the email was jut to put the wind up you lot !

  27. Roger: You do not need a lawyer for this one. Reply as follows:

    Gentlemen, – I have received an email from you in which you purport to act for the University of East Anglia. I do not require any lectures from this corrupt institution or from its purported lawyers about how to behave. I neither confirm nor deny having received the password to which you refer. If I choose to reproduce any emails that may become available to me, I shall exercise my own discretion and common sense without benefit of your unsolicited instruction.

    Inferentially, the Climategate emails were released by a whistleblower at the University who was as horrified as are all true lovers of science at the systematic scientific corruption and fraud that is made evident in the emails. The whistleblower says he wished to warn the world that the scientific basis for the diversion of trillions from the taxpayers’ pockets to various global-warming profiteers was in doubt. I am unable to contact the whistleblower, but he has done a great service to science by releasing the emails.

    In the light of your email, I shall now convey all information in my possession to an international investigation team that is scrutinizing the fraudulent aspects of climate science, including without limitation the Climategate emails. I shall be inviting the team – which includes eminent police officers specializing in the investigation of complex international frauds and organized crime – to consider the role that the University, its vice-chancellor, its head of research, its climate research unit and (in the light of your bullying email and of the University’s previous misconduct in sicking anti-terrorist police on to me) its lawyers may have played in conspiring to perpetrate and to perpetuate the fraud, whether as instigators or as accessories during or after the fact of the fraud.

    You will no doubt recall the adage about the pot that called the kettle black. – Tallbloke

  28. Konrad says:

    While I agree that the use of email does raise suspicions as to the validity of the communication, a response may be in order. I might suggest the following –

    “Sir / Madam,
    We were surprised to receive your unofficial email communication of 19/03/13. As the most cursory reading of the public responses of the many individuals who received the password and files would establish, efforts are already being made to redact unnecessary personal information from the 220,000 emails before their inevitable global public dissemination.

    Given the number of emails involved, it will be necessary to distribute the password to further persons to speed up the preparation of data for public release. Genuine efforts will made to ensure the redaction of personal information, where appropriate, from the emails. We advise that in the interests of calm, considered release of the emails without any inadvertent un-redacted release, your firm and your client the UEA should seek to avoid any further communications that may harass or fluster any volunteers working on this matter of extreme public interest.

    Further to this your email has indicated that you believe “The information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained from the University’s servers in October 2009. The on-going dissemination of any ‘personal data’ obtained in this way would amount to a further criminal offence.” It should be noted that information we have to hand indicates that under Whistleblower legislation it is unlikely that the dissemination of the information constitutes any criminal offence. We would appreciate your firm resending your email communication as hard copy on company letterhead. Given your firms choice to involve themselves in these matters of global importance, it would be a great disappointment to thousands of concerned citizens if Mills & Reeve LLP could not be included in the list of journalists, activists, pseudo scientists and politicians who are about to have their public faces, metaphorically speaking, punched to custard.

    harassed and flustered,


    – but only if I were having a grumpy day 😉

  29. tallbloke supporter says:

    I like TonyN’s idea at tAV of forwarding it to UEA and asking if it was sent on their instruction…

    If so, follow up with the point that you undertake to only publish emails which will “encourage public debate around climate change”. That way everybody should be happy!…. 🙂

    Having said that, I think it probably doesn’t deserve a response and as far as I can see you are under no obligation to reply. Leave it and see what they have to back the bluster – why invite trouble in?

  30. hro001 says:

    I’d sure like to see them argue that any such inadvertent disclosure of “personal data” would trump the public interest test! But that aside …

    This missive seems to have been written in haste (or by someone who lacks basic grammar and/or proofreading skills):

    The information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained from the University’s servers in October 2009. [emphasis added -hro]

    Interesting that that the writer chose to use “likely” – rather than “very likely” or “highly likely”, not to mention unequivocally 😉 . So much for the powers of Norfolk’s finest’s “subcontractor”, Qinetic who conducted the so-called “forensic” part of their “investigation. And if one is being legalistic, since they mention October 2009 as the “likely” date of liberation, this would suggest that anything dated after October 2009 is “fair game”!

    FWIW, to my mind this E-mail should be given as much attention as Donna gave to a similar E-mail from the IPCC’s legal beagles following the release of the Secret Santa files; i.e. none whatsoever.

    One can certainly appreciate their concern that their many years of dishonest responses to FOI requests may well be irrefutably confirmed by that which has not yet been made public. But that’s their problem, not yours – or ours!

    One also might wonder if perhaps it was this concern that finally resulted (a few weeks prior to the release of the password) in the release of emails David Holland had requested five years ago!

    So, IMHO, as I had noted on my own blog a few days ago, UEA has a pretty good idea of what might well be disclosed when the rest of the emails are made public in the fullness of time. Although, they’re probably not 97% certain;-)

    It’s certainly rather silly of UEA to only now be “alarmed” about the existence of the password which (to my way of thinking) facilitated the “translation” of this – long-known and previously released -archive of documents from “unreadable” to comprehensible.

    But this has been part of their pattern since Nov. 17/2009 (when they were presumably made aware of the existence of CG1 according to Gavin’s ever-changing story!) They didn’t even report it to the police until Nov. 20 – after the link to the archive went viral, and emails began appearing in the wild 😉

    What would they (or we for that matter) have done if the Saint had released the whole kit and kaboodle in readable form on Nov. 17/2009?!

    My guess is that they’d be busy “redefining” so many words, they just wouldn’t be able to keep up!

  31. graphicconception says:

    Disconnected Jottings

    “The information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained …”

    Is it significant, I wonder, that they still cannot confirm that the emails were actually stolen?

    Presumably, several people are password holders. Perhaps you need a concerted and consistent response.

    Is there a password holder in a country without an extradition treaty? Would it be legal to help him or her?

    If all else fails, increased donation rates will be possible 🙂

  32. rod says:

    Is it all a bit of Gleikmanship?
    If it is there is the possibility of personation charges.
    If it is genuinely from said legal firm, it is obviously a bit of bluster, else as others have said, it would be served in a verifiable way.

  33. tallbloke says:

    Rod: It came from their mailserver, so yes, it’s genuine. I find it amusing no-one at the UEA was prepared to put their name to the attachment.
    Konrad and Lord M: Thank you both for your eloquent and incisive suggested responses. 🙂
    I’m in no doubt some ‘interested parties’ will read them here, so they can chew on them while I decide what to do next.

  34. temp says:

    Should FOI and ask them how exactly they come about the knowledge that you had said person/they had reasonable belief you had said password. At least then you can find out who’s watching your site from UEA.

  35. g1lgam3sh says:

    If someone happened to send me the password I’d gladly stroll around Manchester city centre with it written in large characters on a sandwich board.

    Bring it on.

  36. Bob Koss says:

    Maybe no one at the firm is willing to take responsibility for sending the email due to some ethics issue. Why not just query the firm on the provenance of the email due to it being possibly an anonymous hack of their server. Keep your dialog short and to the point. If they admit to sending it request the email address and name of the sender along with the name of the person rejecting or providing you with that information.

  37. michael hart says:

    Without both the password and the encrypted file they are otherwise reduced to guessing what is held by you on your computers. Seems the bottom line is they only know what you are prepared to reveal.

    Having said that, it actually just reads like a polite caution to me, so no reply really necessary?

    (I was beginning to think that Anthony could do with a development to freshen up his headline at WUWT. Now UEA seems to have done it for him. 🙂 )

  38. Chris B says:

    I recommend that you contact Mills and Reeve and ask if that person really works there. It would be highly unusual for them to issue a letter which had no provenance.

  39. ombzhch says:

    I am a Lawyer, but a Swiss one, but with considerable British Litigation experience.

    THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, but (a) what you are really talking about is SERVICE, the frocess of FORMALLY delivering a communication (a) Letter before Action, (b) Writ or (c) Statement of Claim.

    (b) and after need to be sealed by the Court, (a) needs to say “Letter before Action” and the means of delivery is based on the fact that a First Class Letter is Deemed to be served the day after it is posted, while otherwise you would need to serve, in person, with a witness.

    SO THIS is Just a Frightening Letter, nothing more. Do not waste your time on it.

    My personal recommendation is to arrange with the other FOI password recipients to publish the password anaoymously, in several places, so there is no longer any point in comming after YOU.

    MFG, omb

  40. Stephen Wilde says:

    There isn’t much I can add to the comments previously made except to point up some aspects as folows:

    i) The legitimacy of their request (assuming the email to be genuine) is dependent on the issue of the password and the release of the emails having been illegal. They have not so far established that to be the case. If they were released by someone who was legitimately in possession of them then they are already out in the public domain.

    ii) Given that others are involved you may wish to do nothing and simply await developments.

    iii) I see that message as possibly an attempt by UAE UEA to at least be seen to make some attempt to comply with the Data Protection Act in protecting employees, students and third parties from the potential consequences of releasing personal data. It may just be a CYA strategy not expecting a substantive response.

    iv) The party most at risk from DPA sanctions is UAE UEA itself since it allowed the data to leak into the public domain and is itself liable to those adversely affected whether it was by a hacker or a whistleblower.

    Note that although I am a practising solicitor this is not my area of expertise and this post does not constitute legal advice.

  41. Stephen Wilde says:

    Rog, please amend UAE to UEA in my previous post.

    Additionally their email concedes that subject to filtering and/or redaction of personal data the rest is fair game.

    Given that it is only the rest that any of us is interested in that presents an open goal provided careful aim is taken.

  42. daveburton says:

    I think it is important that, to ensure that the genie can’t be stuffed back into the bottle, as somebody at UEA is apparently trying to do, nobody know the full list of people who have the password, nor even how many people have it.

    Even Mr. FOIA should not know that, lest, if he be caught, he could be forced to reveal it, or be made to suffer for refusing to do so. By this reasoning, I think it is important that at least some of the recipients of the password anonymously forward it on to a few other responsible people, and never reveal that they’ve done so.

    If I had the password, I would be discrete with it, and also discrete with the emails, themselves, following FOIA’s original example of responsible behavior, by releasing only emails of public significance, and otherwise respecting the privacy of the correspondents. Theoretically speaking, of course.

    Of course, if anyone were to send me the password, I would promptly delete the email, fax, letter, voice recording, or whatever, and make no attempt to find out who sent it. Still, it would be prudent for the sender to take steps to preserve his or her anonymity, perhaps by using an anonymous snail mail letter, or a disposable email account, relayed through a proxy server or three, while connected to the Internet via some open WiFi connection. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

    BTW, in case someone wants to contact me, for any reason, my contact info can be found here:

  43. They wrote:

    We do not know what information has been made available in this way but have a very real concern that it may include ‘personal data’.

    (emphasis mine)

    IANAL but ISTM that the best response is no response.

    My inexpert interpretation of the law is that once you claim that disclosure is in the public interest, that you acknowledge that the data being disclosed is of a personal nature. It is generally safe to assume that everything a lawyer says is part of laying a trap.

    Let them chew on their conspiracy ideation (see Lewandowsky).

  44. Tom Harley says:

    As the saying goes, we are all FOIA now, release the hounds …

  45. tallbloke says:

    Bob Koss: Submitted on 2013/03/20 at 12:47 am
    Maybe no one at the firm is willing to take responsibility for sending the email due to some ethics issue

    The email is signed, where I redacted the name of the Mills and Reeve partner.
    The attachment, purportedly from the UEA is not.

    Ombzhich: Thanks, I will consider your comment, and understand it does not constitute legal advice.

    Stephen: I agree that what interests us is the science, and not the personal information of the scientists and others that may be contained in the material. However, so far as I understand it, the attached document purportedly from the UEA asks me to undertake by return not to publish any of the material, not specifically just material deemed to be personal information as defined by the Data Protection Act.

  46. tallbloke says:

    It’s snowing heavily here in Leeds this morning. On March 20th. Global warming was nice while it lasted. 🙂

  47. Richard111 says:

    TB, sorry to read you are under scrutiny again but must admit this is the most interesting reading since CG3 broke. It raises my hopes that there might be something of value to the world in those 200k plus emails. I’m a pensioner with plenty of spare time if you need a volunteer. Also plenty of room in my home if you need a quiet break away from it all.

  48. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Richard. It seems to me that it is the UEA that are under scrutiny not me. I’m under duress from their imposition of a threatening letter which may not carry any legal force anyway. I’ll have to pay for legal advice to clarify the matter, and they can be sure they will be getting the bill if it turns out that that they are misrepresenting the document as one requiring a legally qualified response. It occurs to me that since the document attached was sent electronically via email to Mills and Reeve by whoever it was at the UEA that sent it, and they must have attached a distribution list including my personal email address, I may be able to obtain a copy of the covering email under the relevant provision of the Data Protection Act. 😉

    And don’t worry. I’ve heard there is plenty of interest in the material. People are working on tidying it up, redacting personal information, and tying threads together to form a coherent narrative. It takes time.

    What I’d really like is the loan of a nice fuel efficient small camper van over the Easter break, so that my lady and I can get away from it all for a week. My 4L V6 Ford guzzler is off the road at the moment.

  49. TerryS says:

    Write to the Data Commissioner and ask for guidance. Point out the that you believe releasing some of the emails will be in the public interest.

  50. Max™ says:

    Call me paranoid, but I would not forward an email which originated from a group with possible interest in prosecuting myself or others I had contacted.

    I might go so far as to take a screenshot of the email and send unrelated messages providing the link to view that image to everyone on my contact list, such that no one could claim I was not being diligent about my obligations, but I dislike the idea of providing a direct chain in the form of a forwarded email which could lead to disclosure requests and point rather clearly at other people “of interest”.

    Not sure the legal limits of “this email originated with us, and wound up with them, so we can legally pressure them to comply”, but I doubt they are the same as “you sent a general message to everyone which linked to an image that we claim was of an email which originated with us, so we can just start hunting around randomly trying to find others with the password to pursue”.

  51. If it is not a fake, it is a very good counterfeit of a fake (and thus incompetent, which also indicates it is fake). When I get an e-mail from someone I don’t know, especially without a subject line (I assume that’s what you mean by “no header”), I delete it without opening it. So (tongue in cheek) just delete it without reading. And don’t write about reading it on the Web, that alone is likely to give the adolescent mind who sent it a thrill he doesn’t deserve.

  52. tallbloke says:


    The subject line of the email is
    ‘University of East Anglia’

    The attached pdf document purported to be from the UEA by the partner at Mills & Reeve has no University logo, no reference number, no date, no contact details, no signature and no disclaimer.

  53. TerryS says:

    Have you extracted the meta-data from the PDF?

    It probably doesn’t have anything interesting, but you never know.

  54. EternalOptimist says:

    Peace of mind TallBloke. Destroy the password, then eat the internet

  55. tallbloke says:

    Terry S: Tha author is ‘clr’ and it was written with word. It appears word renders to pdf using some ancient version of Ghostscript.

  56. David says:

    How much personal information is there from professionals conducting public business? There should be very little. Even working for a private company, I always wrote with the thought that anyone in the company may read this. It helps to be professional.

    Someday, someone will simply leave the password in an envelope in some public locations where the media will have at it.

  57. tallbloke supporter says:

    David – Where the media will have at it??!! That’d be a turn around! Maybe if there is some email to/from Sarah Palin re impact of Climate Change on moose shoots – otherwise the first rule of ClimateGate would apply …

  58. Rog

    the email purports to set out what your legal obligations are with regard to the DPA. There is a legal presumption that we are all supposed to know the law and ignorance of the law is no excuse. I do not know whether their understanding of the law as set out in the email is correct, but the basic principle is as I say – you are deemed to know the law. As this is clearly a complex area you should take legal advice from someone with relevant expertise – which is what you are trying to do I know.

    I do not think there is any obligation on you to respond to the email. Your obligation as a citizen of the UK is to comply with relevant law. The undertaking that they are seeking can be no more than an undertaking to comply with relevant law. As I say that is an obligation that sits with us in any event. So, no need to give the undertaking.

    Turning to the post from Chris Monckton, he refers to ‘an international investigation team that is scrutinizing the fraudulent aspects of climate science’

    Has his lordship supplied you with details of said team? If not, it would be interesting to know how they might be contacted.

    Kind regards and stay strong

  59. normalnew says:

    just a thought. You have a blog thats active and with visitors. I don’t know the laws of your land, but if they come after you source protection under freedom of speech might be a way out. FOIA is your source and you cannot disclose anything furrther on that issue 🙂

  60. Richard111 says:

    Ach! No camper. Live on the coast in south west Wales. Long drive. If you have skype and curious contact me for details and can show you what is here.

  61. oldfossil says:

    This isn’t just the Climate Mafia at work. I read the original email on Condon’s blog and it seems quite straightforward. No menaces, no “or else.” Just stick to the law and there’s no problem.

    Look at it this way. Say that a whole lot of your personal stuff was put out there. You would expect the same protection. Wouldn’t you?

    Until you get my written permission, DON’T PANIC.

  62. tallbloke says:

    Richard: Sounds good, I’ve been on the Pembroke coast before, when I was a lad. Nice. I have some solar system dynamics overdue for discussion with someone nr Glastonbury too, so a plan might form.

    Oldfossil, Here’s what I’m seeing: “It would be a breach of the DPA to publish personal stuff, so reply by return and give an undertaking you won’t publish any of the material”

  63. michael hart says:

    TB, I know you have made comments at the Air Vent, but did you read this comment (albeit in US legal jurisdiction) about implied contracts as a result of making any kind of compliance with a request: ?

    If similar contract law existed here, would that allow for (the possibility of) UEA being able to later take initiative outside of the direct jurisdiction of the Information Commissioner ?

  64. Disinformation has its own roots.

    Russian hacker guccifer needs more work.

    The UEA lawdogs will need Putins OK to track down said guccifer.

    What guccifer knows stays in guccifer land.

  65. Michael Hart

    an undertaking could be enforced under English law if consideration was given. Not clear in this case if any consideration is passing from UEA to RT in return for the undertaking – for instance it can be argued that UEA not taking legal action could be consideration. RT does need competent legal advice though.

  66. Dear Roger,

    Given the way in which the “request” reached you, it would be obvious to me ( scam or not) not to react!. The reason is they (who ever they are) are putting out feelers. This means they (who ever they are) want information or in climate science terms feedback. As in real science there is no feedback required. I hope you have a none freezing Easter.

  67. Roger,

    Take my advice. Don’t react at all. And with Monckton behind you, how can you possibly go wrong!

    In the highly unlikely case of it coming to legal action, I think you can be assured that thousands of us will dig into our pockets.

    All the best.


  68. tallbloke says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. These people are at the root of various harassments in 2010, 2011, and after a year off, 2013. I’m starting to get annoyed, and feel inclined to start fighting back. I’m seeing a top law firm with expertise on DPA, FOI, RIPA and PCA on friday. I found some time today to print out some choice pieces of evidence. It takes a lot to annoy me, I’m the soul of equanimity, but once I’m pushed to act, the volcano blows hot.

    However, in the light of the sensible advice here, I won’t act rashly with a snarky reply myself. I’m not an expert in law. I get the professionals in to act on my behalf.

  69. Charles.U.Farley says:

    Anyone with the password can access the file, copy it to a new zip and upload it to anywhere minus any password, no need to release any passwords….Or have i got it bass ackwards?

  70. Max™ says:

    I won’t act rashly with a snarky reply myself. I’m not an expert in law. I get the professionals in to act on my behalf.” ~tb

    Good man, let us be snarky, let lawyers be snarky, but as was mentioned above, responding to them directly carries risks which I would not ignore, make sure to attach the suggested “I reserve all rights to tell you lot to sod off and in no way does anything I say imply any sort of contract or agreement” disclaimers though.

    For me it would be paranoid, but you wouldn’t be paranoid as you know they are actually out to get you.

  71. Snarky replies puts folks off. Makes them want to be more snarky. Genuinely tough questions that an otherwise disinterested bystander might ask are what knocks ’em off-kilter. Such as, “In your letter to me mentioning ‘the information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained’, what investigative process did you use that allows you to apparently skip having a disclaimer which would have continued your sentence with ‘or leaked by an insider’?”

  72. feet2thefire says:

    This may sound like a joke, but has anyone compared the phrasings and vocabulary with Peter Gleick’s writing style?

    With tallbloke saying:

    The attached pdf document purported to be from the UEA by the partner at Mills & Reeve has no University logo, no reference number, no date, no contact details, no signature and no disclaimer.

    you never know when Gleick or his spiritual twin might want to have a second go at it.

    Like I said at Jeff Id’s page:

    Something about this email smells like last week’s fish.

    Any lawyers here?
    Any UK lawyers here?

    The first sign to me is the language.

    Do lawyers, barristers and solicitors in the UK communicate in plain language like that? No lawyer’s communications in the U.S. would sound anything informal like that. It would ALSO be done as a court order or a restraining order. An unofficial EMAIL? And in language like that?

    Any minimally competent law firm would have quoted code down to section, and paragraph being violated or potentially being violated, not pointing to the whole shebang and have you read it and try to figure out for yourself.

    Is a judge’s name or court attached anywhere?

    Ask Gleick where he was the night the email was sent…

    Steve Garcia

  73. […] at Tallbloke’s Talkshop here has gotten a letter from CRU lawyers suggesting he not mess around with the recently released […]

  74. KnockJohn says:

    Did a bit of a search of UEA’s website – there is a clr there in the shape of C[snip] L R[snip]. Probobly a coincidence though.

    [Moderation note] Name remainders removed.

  75. g2-55527e4d0e6a7560016aa81dbd8b142e says:

    There is a C[snip] R[snip] who is a Legal Secretary at Norwich for Mills & Reeve so I suspect she is probably the author.

    [Moderation note] Name remainders removed

  76. Guam says:

    Hi Tallbloke, just a thought, IIRC you stated at the outset that you weren’t included in the password circulation.
    Given the outrageous raid on your home and now this.
    Would you have grounds for a criminal complaint of harassment against the UEA?

    If they had subjected me to this following the raid I would certainly consider this as a course of action if viable. All they have achieved with this idiocy is to ramp up the interest levels in the remaining material imho.

  77. tallbloke says:

    KnockJohn and …142e: Thanks, but I’m not going to publish names based on speculation. The person who sent the email signed the email. If either Cxxxxx Rxxxxx authored the pdf document, he/she probably cut and pasted the content from an email sent by someone at the UEA. That’s the name I’d like to know. I’d like to know why they didn’t sign it too.

    Guam: I said I’d got the password (from a third party – NOT Mr FOIA) in the comments to the post I put up last week – FOIA Speaks. And a couple of subesequent posts contained material not in CG1 or 2. So someone at UEA inferred I had it, and that it worked.

  78. Guam says:

    Cheers TB I missed that admission, 🙂 I wonder if you will get another visit now? Given their behavior with this email, the stupidity would appear to be strong at UEA.

  79. tallbloke says:

    I doubt it. No offences have been committed so far as I know. I have to get legal advice to clarify the issue of whether the UEA document requires a legal response though.

  80. Guam says:

    Given the way this is starting to go if this email is genuine, I would strongly suggest that Fellow travelers down this road seek out Legal insurance for themselves personally and to cover their business if their Blogs are set up as a business. I have had it for a decade now and it provides interesting leverage in discussions over potential legal issues from those seeking to intimidate one.

    Bullies tend to rely on ones inability to pony up the funds when it comes to court action, being able to throw an insurance certificate on the table focuses the minds of said protagonists wonderfully.

  81. fadingfool says:

    Cough – I would respond with the classic private eyeism “We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram”

  82. Guam says:

    Hey TB, you might want to ask who the data controller is at the UEA and tell them that it is so you can refer anyone wishing to complain due to a breach of the DPA’s provisions, to the organisation charged by the information commissioners to ensure such data doesn’t end up outside of its control. As I understand it from what I was told when we obtained our licence, how it gets out is irrelevant you lose control of the personal data you as an organisation are responsible 🙂

    I think they have more to fear than those of you with the password 🙂
    Your Legal Eagle may know different however 🙂

  83. tallbloke says:

    Good info Guam. 🙂

  84. seanbrady says:

    Reply with the password.

    Then, when you are sure they received it, file a FOIA request for it 😉

  85. tallbloke says:

    Sean: Cute, but risky. 😉

  86. Fred from Canuckistan says:

    I think Phil Jones is so petrified about the truth of his and his fellow warmongering “Climate Scientists” getting the richly deserved public scrutiny they deserve, that he has taken to cheap and tawdry barrack room/University Ivory Tower lawyering.

    No real lawyer would try such a transparently stupid drive by legal chill.

    All this will do is set the hounds loose in jurisdictions beyond the UK borders but within the bounds of that Interweb thingy we hear so much about..

  87. philjourdan says:

    “Sean: Cute, but risky. ;)” – Cute? it is hysterical!

  88. Tallbloke said;
    “I found some time today to print out some choice pieces of evidence. It takes a lot to annoy me, I’m the soul of equanimity, but once I’m pushed to act, the volcano blows hot.”

    I like that. It goes well with Byron’s “He was the mildest-mannered man that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat.”

  89. tallbloke says:

    I had a meeting with the solicitors an hour ago. They know their stuff. More tomorrow.

  90. seanbrady says:

    “Sean: Cute, but risky.” … every girl I’ve dated has come to the same conclusion!

  91. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon says:

    Having met with your solicitors, then I suggest that your response should be:

    Dear Sirs,
    Fuck yourselves.
    Strong letter follows from my solicitors.

  92. tallbloke says:

    sean: Heh. I’ve never ‘settled down’ either.

    DC: One of the questions the solicitors will answer is just how ‘robust’ a reply I can issue. At that price, I want some satisfaction. 😉

  93. wayne says:

    Wanted to stay out of the way till you got this in proper hands. I’m sure this has been yet another harassment from the University of East Anglia, but like I said on the first fiasco, for gosh sake don’t play nice this time around, see if UEA can agree to retire you in style, then we can do some serious science. We know they can’t. 😉 Your always being thought of, wish I could help but definitely an attorney I’m not! Saving some real interesting stuff once you get back in the saddle.

  94. jeremyp99 says:

    Tallbloke – what’s in the email message header?

  95. tallbloke says:

    JeremyP: The usual stuff including a transit through Mills & Reeves own mailserver. I checked dthe IP and it’s legit.

  96. Climate Daily says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Daily.

  97. John O'Sullivan says:

    You’ve been had. While Mills & Reeve LLP is certainly a registered law firm they do not own or use the domain name .net. They instead use a dotcom. As they appear to be a largish law firm there is no way they would be issuing you such a hashed email. For the avoidance of doubt simply give them a quick phone or email as per their real website:

    [Reply] Many firms use [theirname].net for their comms layer.

    Domain Name: MILLS-REEVE.NET
    Whois Server:
    Referral URL:
    Name Server: NS1.VIRGINMEDIA.NET
    Name Server: NS2.VIRGINMEDIA.NET
    Name Server: NS3.VIRGINMEDIA.NET
    Name Server: NS4.VIRGINMEDIA.NET
    Status: clientTransferProhibited
    Updated Date: 28-feb-2013
    Creation Date: 10-mar-2011
    Expiration Date: 10-mar-2014

    Since this is all the available information, you cannot know that they don’t own the domain. However, I know they do own the domain, because the headers tell me their mailserver operates NAT from:

    ISP: Virgin Media
    Organization: Mills and Reeve

    And the IP address geolocates to:

    Country: United Kingdom
    State/Region: Norfolk
    City: Downham Market

    Which shows the email originated in their Norwich office, despite sporting a Cambridge address. Maybe anon of UEA dropped in with the attachment on a memory stick, for fear of sending it through an FOI-able (or DPA-able) email chain. 😉

  98. feet2thefire says:

    What are the possible penalties? If they are slight, what’s the issue? Only if they are severe is it necessary to pay any attention. If it is monetary other skeptics – and neutrals – can help pay the fine for whoever passes on the pw . And if it is done on a blog, the next level of pw owners is legion, as they say. And once the cat is out of thee bag, what are they going to do, sue thousands individually?

  99. feet2thefire says:

    I would also point out that someone outside the law firm could as easily have found out who the secretaries are over at the law firm. Just like KnockJohn did. And then done a Gleick number.

    I still strongly assert that the wording of that email is NOTHING like what one would get in the U.S. No legalese, no casae number, no Judge issuing an injunction.

    For heaven’s sake, the FIRST thing that would be done here is to get an INJUNCTION – a Cease and Desist – against the known pw holders, by name. They wouldn’t go informal. What kind of lawyers do they have there, anyway?

    Once enjoined by the court, then a violation is a contempt of court issue.

    Don’t they have injunctions in the UK?

    Steve Garcia

  100. tallbloke says:

    Steve Garcia asks: What are the possible penalties?

    50,000UKP plus jailtime

    What kind of lawyers do they have there, anyway?

    Armchair ones in the UEA by the look of it. 🙂
    I don’t do armchair lawyering. I get the professionals in.

  101. tallbloke says:

    Thinking about it a bit more, it looks likely to me that someone in the CRU/UEA has knocked this letter together without any approval from the high-ups. Which will be why it doesn’t carry a University logo or reference number. Maybe they did it on a lappy or old redundant no longer networked PC. Remember I said the word to pdf converion was done with an ancient version of ghostscript? Which version of ghostscript is used by the latest word version I wonder. I don’t have M$ office on this mini-laptop. Maybe someone could test a doc to pdf conversion using word 2010 and 2007 and report the ghostscript versions used by looking at the pdf metadata.

  102. Joe Public says:

    Can you suggest that the information was received “For the purposes of Journalism”; and, refer them to the reply given in Arkell v. Pressdram?

    Also, perhaps you could ask them how ‘likely’ they consider it was, that ‘ …. the information contained in these document (sic) ……… have been illegally obtained.”

  103. tallbloke says:

    Joe P: I’m not sure bloggers qualify as ‘journalists’ in the UK. In any case, with the new Leveson Law coming into force, it might be the wrong moment to claim to be one anyway… See the latest thread.

  104. Guam says:

    Something occurred to me, the MSM are narked at recent develipments dollowing levesen and the recent Bill on the Royal charter, if someone happened to forward the archive and password anonymously to one of the big boys, life could get really interesting for the folks at UEA, plus the MSM would have a right to withold the source?

    Off the wall I know but Someone like Delingpole might just have sport with it? 🙂

  105. mikemUK says:

    At the end of the day I think that this Email (assuming authentic) is little more than a matter of form, or procedural box-ticking by the legal eagles.

    FOIA has acted honourably thus far by restricting the release of the password to trustworthy sites for clearly stated reasons of protecting personal privacy.

    If by some legal ploy all of those sites were to be ‘intimidated’, then the elusive FOIA need only say, “Tried being fair, didn’t work” and then release the password to the world in general.

  106. UEA is paying lawyers to write to bloggers, reminding the bloggers to obey the law.

    Does that look like a productive way to be spending grant monies?

    As for privacy; there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when people are using their employer’s facilties. The “corporation” protects only its own interests, not those of the individuals in its employ. As such, it is necessary at times to “blindly” look at the content of emails for potential patterns of abuse, “malware” or compromises of corporate intelligence. Those things are done solely to protect the corporation.

    The employer may think it appropriate to remind employees of that reality. That the privacy of personal data will not be protected. In workplaces where there is a prevalence of intelligent employees, it may be damaging to the workplace climate to remind people of the bleeding obvious.

  107. Earthling says:

    That email would have gone straight into to my junk mail box and I wouldn’t have bothered to open it.

  108. jeremyp99 says:

    So why no hard copy? And indeed, as noted elsewhere, why no injunction? That would have seemed the obvious way to go. I myself have one out against me – for whistle blowing on a deviant in a “professional” association, I was shut up with a – lifetime – injunction, from said deviant, supported by the institution employing him and his professional association.

  109. MikeTheDenier says:

    Reply just as Gen. Anthony McAuliffe did when the Germans demanded his surrender — “NUTS”

  110. Guam says:

    Starting to feel that FOIA should have just released the password to the world and be done with it, it seems like the legal threats from UEA have done the job and shut the story down, its even become buried in the woodwotk on watts.

    Sad day for truth imho.

  111. Steven Mosher says:


    I got a similar note. Since they refused to warrant that their attachment was virus free, I told them
    that I would not be opening it. I also told them to quit spamming me. UK law on unsolicited mail in interesting.

    Finally, FOIA should send Monckton a copy of the password.

  112. tallbloke says:

    Worry not, the archive will be made available, in places beyond the reach of UK law, by people also living in places beyond the reach of UK law, once it has been filtered for personal details which have no bearing on the issues. It’s a big archive and that will take time. I will be discussing material from the archive here once the legal position is clear. We’re all impatient to remove the impediment to open debate, but we have to do it right.

  113. Guam says:

    TB I concur with doing it right, however the effective discussion has for the time being been silenced, this gives them time to prepare positions . We need to keep the discussion on the concept of Climate Gate 3 at the fore until the archive can be released, otherwise it will become an irrelevance, given the speed at which “news” moves in the internet age 🙂

    All imho of course 🙂

  114. tallbloke says:

    Well, since the MSM has totally ignored it so far, it won’t be ‘old news’ when the archive is released. It’ll stand on its merits. If some nuggets are found, it’ll be newsworthy. A lot of the media will still ignore it though, since the corruption of climate science is ‘old news’ anyway.

  115. Jim Steele says:

    Keep up the good fight