The University decided that their priority was to “fire back some shots on the scientists’ behalf”. They also commissioned tainted inquiries (Muir Russell, Oxburgh) that not only failed to clear the air, but who arguably made matters worse. Whether these courses of action were advised by Wallis or merely abetted by him hardly matters. Precisely what contribution, if any, Wallis made to the University’s strategy and statements remains unknown. Indeed, until a few days ago, none of us were even aware of his involvement. Presumably more will become known in the weeks ahead.
It’s too bad that the University of East Anglia decided that the Climategate problem was merely a “reputation management” problem and the sort of advice that they needed could be obtained from a former News of the World editor (let alone one with Wallis’ baggage). The advice that they needed had already been provided by George Monbiot – that they could “only get past this by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate, and demonstrating that it cannot happen again”. Had the University paid attention to Monbiot’s advice, subsequent events would undoubtedly have been different and healthier.