It appears those who made FOIA requests to the climate scientists are finding themselves on the receiving end of a phone call from the Old Bill:
In a letter to the Financial Times, Sebastian Nokes, a climate change sceptic and businessman, said he was interviewed by an officer who "wanted to know what computer I used, my internet service provider, and also to which political parties I have belonged, what I feel about climate change and what my qualifications in climate science are. He questioned me at length about my political and scientific opinions".Well, the answers to those questions should have been: ‘None of your business, none of your business, none of your business, none of your business, none of your business and none of your business.
Now, don’t you have a real job to do, like protecting us from the deadly menace of knife-wielding maniacs?’
The police have a duty to investigate the alleged crime, but this kind of questioning smacks of something far more sinister because a person's political and scientific views are being weighed to assess his likely criminality in the eyes of the police officer.And that marks a turning point in the public’s relationship with the police.
Now you might ask how else the police are going to establish who is a suspect. After all, you would certainly ask people about their views if you investigating a string of racist attacks. But this is not a violent crime or a terrorist matter: moreover, Nokes had simply sent "an FOI request to the university's climate unit asking whether scientists had received training in the disclosure rules and asking for copies of any emails in which they suggested ducking their obligations to disclose data".Let’s hope he told them where to go; if any actually complied with this, it will merely encourage them to consider it a legitimate line of enquiry in future investigations…
On that basis the police felt entitled to examine Nokes on his views.
What this adds up to is a failure of understanding in the police force that one of its primary duties is to protect the various and sometimes inconvenient manifestations of a democracy, not to suppress them.Indeed.
It’s about time they were reminded of this. Forcibly, if necessary.