The University of East Anglia violated Britain's Freedom of Information Act by refusing to fulfill requests for data supporting claims by university scientists that human-made emissions were causing global warming, Britain's Information Commissioner's Office said.
But while the public research university in Norwich, England, may have broken the law, it will not be prosecuted because a six-month time limit for prosecutions elapsed, The Times of London reported the independent regulatory office under the justice ministry as saying.
Breaches of the act are punishable by an unlimited fine, the Times said.
The controversy stems from hundreds of e-mails stolen from the university's Climatic Research Unit that indicated university climate scientists supported the cause for global warming by manipulating data and interfering with the peer-review process of scientific papers to keep contrary information out of scientific journals.
The university described the computer hacking that came to light in November, shortly before the Dec. 7-18 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, as an illegal taking of data. Police are conducting a criminal investigation of the server breach and subsequent personal threats made against some scientists mentioned in the e-mails.
Research unit Director Phil Jones, who stepped down after the "climategate" scandal broke, had told staffers to delete FOI request e-mails from climate change skeptics, the Times said.
One e-mail involved a much-publicized 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the Himalayan glaciers would "very likely" disappear by 2035 if current warming trends continued.
That report, by the United Nations scientific advisory body, is currently under fire for gross exaggeration.
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