British press forced to apologise again

Yet again the UK press has been forced to backtrack over a misleading climate change-related article. Readers will probably remember that the Sunday Times was recently forced to issue a retraction of Jonathan Leake’s “Amazongate” story, and now it’s the turn of the Sunday Telegraph, which has made an apology over accusations made against Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC in an article by Richard North and Christopher Booker. At least it’s an apology of sorts…

On 20 December 2009 we published an article about Dr Pachauri and his business interests. It was not intended to suggest that Dr Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position as head of the IPCC and we accept KPMG found Dr Pachauri had not made “millions of dollars” in recent years. We apologise to Dr Pachauri for any embarrassment caused.

Now that’s all well and good, and it’s right that the record has been set straight, but it’s not exactly an honest apology. They say “It was not intended to suggest that Dr Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position” as if it was simply a case of careless wording which unintentionally gave a misleading impression. So let’s see what the original piece actually said – it has been removed from the Telegraph web site but can still be found here

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

It is remarkable how only very recently has the staggering scale of Dr Pachauri’s links to so many of these concerns come to light, inevitably raising questions as to how the world’s leading ‘climate official’ can also be personally involved in so many organisations which stand to benefit from the IPCC’s recommendations

So if these statements (and the rest of the article) were not intended to give the impression that “Dr Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position” could someone kindly explain to me what impression the reader was supposed to get from the article?

North himself is entirely unrepentant, despite the fact that a review of Pachauri’s finances by KPMG revealed that “No evidence was found that indicated personal fiduciary benefits accruing to Pachauri from his various advisory roles that would have led to a conflict of interest.”

But then North vehemently objected to the abovementioned retraction issued by the Sunday Times, going so far as to issue a complaint to the PCC, possibly because Leake’s original story was largely based on North’s “research”.

Of course none of this has any bearing on the actual scientific arguments around climate change, but it it is hard to avoid the conclusion that for the likes of North and Booker, James Delingpole, Melanie Phillips et al. this isn’t about the science, of which they understand little and care even less, it is a propaganda war with the aim of planting doubt in the minds of the public and making it ever more difficult for politicians to take meaningful action to prevent increased global warming. In which case, however insignificant this kind of arguments is in the overall scheme of things, any setback to their cause is to be applauded.