With compliments to Katabasis whose FOI request has been dealt with more quickly than mine… The information in the FOI response he has received today and written up in a detailed blog post goes into much more detail than Bishop Hill’s release from the Quarmby audit team.
A look at the information makes clear there is nowhere left for the Met Office to hide. The Met Office has been caught ‘cold’ lying about its winter forecast in a disgraceful attempt to salvage its reputation. Its claim that it forecast the cold start to the winter lays in tatters thanks to an exchange of emails between the department and the Cabinet Office.
As a result the Met Office is completely discredited. Also utterly discredited is the BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin, who on the Met Office’s behalf used a column in the Radio Times (later carried in the Telegraph and the Daily Mail) to state that:
In October the forecaster privately warned the Government – with whom it has a contract – that Britain was likely to face an extremely cold winter.
It kept the prediction secret, however, after facing severe criticism over the accuracy of its long-term forecasts.
(My emphasis in bold italic above and below) Harrabin went on to say in his piece that:
Why didn’t the Met Office tell us that Greenland was about to swap weather with Godalming? The truth is it [The Met Office] did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October. But we weren’t let in on the secret. “The reason? The Met Office no longer publishes its seasonal forecasts because of the ridicule it suffered for predicting a barbecue summer in 2009 – the summer that campers floated around in their tents.
The email exchange in the screenshot below proves this is a lie. The Cabinet Office civil servant (bottom message) confirms the weather outlook supplied by the Met Office earlier that day is what the government will use in its ‘Forward Look’. The Met Office employee (top message) agrees with it.
The all important sentence is the first. ‘The Met Office seasonal outlook for the period November to January is showing no clear signals for the winter’. The Met Office knew this was the case when it sent Harrabin scurrying off to spin its lie that the Met Office ‘did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October‘. The briefing to the Cabinet Office contains no such warning – and vindicates the parliamentary answer given by Francis Maude when questioned about the forecast the government received from the Met Office.
What is worse is that the Met Office knew this, yet with its claim tried to place responsibility for the lack of prepareness for an extremely cold start to the winter on government inaction. Harrabin added to this by saying he had put in a FOI to the government (referenced in this post) to discover what they were told, the insinuation being it was the government that had something to hide. This is very dangerous ground that leans towards the possibility of the Met Office and a BBC reporter engaging in a joint effort to undermine the government’s credibility.
This leads us to ask a serious question that must be answered: How is it possible that Roger Harrabin could claim the Met Office line he was retailing was the ‘truth’ with such certainty?
- If Harrabin had seen the evidence and still spun his line then he has knowingly lied to the public
- If he spun his line without seeing the evidence then he is utterly incompetent and the public can have no faith in the stories he broadcasts and publishes on the BBC
Either way Roger Harrabin’s position is now untenable and in addition to resigning he must make a full public apology. As for the Met Office, the buck stops with the Chief Executive, John Hirst, who has looked on as this false narrative was constructed and insinuations were made to deflect criticism from his department, yet did nothing to correct it.
We now have the truth. It is what many people have suspected since the story materialised. It’s now time for those who are funded by taxpayers’ money and who engineered the deception, and those who allowed it to happen, to pay the price for their actions. Over to the executive board of the Met Office and the trustees of the BBC…