finem respice

The False Climate Claims Act?

Submitted by ep on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 06:54
to collect your share of the reward

It wasn't long ago when I wondered aloud in these pages if accepting grant money from public and private sources might not give rise to a cause of action, not least of all based on the False Claims Act. That would be a particularly interesting rub on things, given the number of potential causes of action we can find lurking around. (I've toyed with the idea of evaluating civil RICO as a means to pursue matters as well). Apparently, I wasn't the only one to consider this possibility.

Back then I mused that:

All this may not be as simply benign as "merely" scientific malfeasance. To the extent the CRU has accepted public or private funds based on this research (and it has), individuals who tampered with data or the like may face civil or even criminal liability for fraud. I'm less familiar with laws in the United Kingdom when it comes to fraud and charities (which the CRU effectively is), but it doesn't seem particularly hard to me to formulate a civil cause of action for any of the many "academic funding councils, government departments, intergovernmental agencies, charitable foundations, non-governmental organisations, commerce and industry" donors that fund the organization,3 or even a criminal complaint involving mail and wire fraud. Such an action could easily be filed in Federal court in the United States by a U.S. based donor, or, in fact, a foreign donor with sufficient U.S. connection. This might include one of:

British Council, British Petroleum, Broom's Barn Sugar Beet Research Centre, Central Electricity Generating Board, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Commercial Union, Commission of European Communities (CEC, often referred to now as EU), Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), Department of Energy, Department of the Environment (DETR, now DEFRA), Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Eastern Electricity, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Greenpeace International, International Institute of Environmental Development (IIED), Irish Electricity Supply Board, KFA Germany, Leverhulme Trust, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), National Power, National Rivers Authority, Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Norwich Union, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, Overseas Development Administration (ODA), Reinsurance Underwriters and Syndicates, Royal Society, Scientific Consultants, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research, Shell, Stockholm Environment Agency, Sultanate of Oman, Tate and Lyle, UK Met. Office, UK Nirex Ltd., United Nations Environment Plan (UNEP), United States Department of Energy, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Wolfson Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

Given that the Department of Energy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency are apparently donors, perhaps a clever U.S. Plaintiff could take advantage of the False Claims Act ("FCA") to recover a portion of three times the Government's damages in Federal court. (One could get pretty creative figuring the damages here). The FCA covers:

...any person who—

(A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;

(B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;1

Today I discover this:

If any of the dozens of co-workers in the US or the UK are prepared to give evidence, even if it doesn’t lead to any convictions, they could benefit from a share of tens of millions of dollars in recovered public funds. The Whistleblower idea came up in Internet discussions with top US fraud lawyer, Joel Hesch, of Hesch and Associates and former CIA agent, Kent Clizbe. Clizbe’s idea was to email the offer to all 27 of Mann’s co-workers at Penn State’s Earth System Science Center (ESSC) this weekend.


  1. 1. The Federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733 (2009).
[Art Credit: Unknown Artist "Unknown," Print Poster (Unknown Date), from the author's private collection. As sovereign personifications go it is hard to get much more pervasive or recognized than "Uncle Sam." Originating sometime during the War of 1812 based on the initials "US," the old bluehair has become synonymous with the nation's expectations of its citizens. "Uncle Sam Wilson" of Troy, New York is generally recognized as the source of the figure, at least according to Congress, which pass a resolution recognizing him in 1961.]

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