The Norfolk police force has formally admitted that it is completely befuddled by the curious case of the release of private emails between researchers at the Climatic Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.
According to Nature, the Norfolk Constabulary has closed its investigation into the incident November 2009 which played into the hands of those who are convinced that global warming is a modern myth.
One of the theories of those anti-global warming people is that the leaker was a researcher who was so shocked that the top boffins were making things up that he passed on the emails.
However police have confirmed that the data breach “was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet”.
The investigation cleared anyone working at or associated with UEA from involvement in the crime, which rules out any internal whistleblowers.
Julian Gregory, the senior investigating officer, said Operation Cabin carried out some detailed and comprehensive enquiries and was supported by experts in this field.
But it was so complex that there was no realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.
It turned out that the international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web crime from Norfolk proved extremely challenging.
More than 1,000 emails were published during Climategate. After the breach the scientists named and shamed were cleared of doing anything wrong.
Edward Acton, UEA’s vice chancellor, in a statement that was disappointed that the hackers had not been caught. He said that misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails, including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee, did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change.