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Keith Briffa from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which plays a key role in forming IPCC assessments, urged caution, warning that when it came to historical climate records, there was no new data, only the ‘same old evidence’ that had been around for years.

It is only now that their concerns have started to emerge from the thousands of pages of ‘Warmergate’ emails leaked last month from the CRU’s computers, along with references to performing a ‘trick’ to ‘hide’ temperature decline and instructions to resist all efforts by the CRU’s critics to use the Freedom of Information Act to check the unit’s data and conclusions. ‘In the long term, it will make very little difference to the scientific consensus, and to the way politicians respond to it,’ Professor Trevor Davies, the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor and a former CRU director, told me.

‘In reality the situation is not quite so simple - I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.’ Agenda: An Iceberg projection highlighting the Copenhagen UN summit shows the high level of political interest in climate change - and why scientists may be desperate to prove it is a man-made problem we can solve Another British scientist - Chris Folland of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre - wrote the same day that using Briffa’s data might be awkward, because it suggested the past was too warm.

This, he lamented, ‘dilutes the message rather significantly’.

This brought his work into line for earlier centuries, and ‘cooled’ them significantly.By 2007, when the IPCC produced its fourth report, Mc Intyre had become aware of the manipulation of the Briffa data and Briffa himself, as shown at the start of this article, continued to have serious qualms.Some of the most controversial leaked emails concern attempts by Jones and his colleagues to avoid disclosure of the CRU’s temperature database - its vast library of readings from more than 1,000 weather stations around the world, the ultimate resource that records how temperatures have changed.In the course of an extraordinary BBC interview in which he called an American critic an ‘****hole’ live on air, Jones’s colleague Professor Andrew Watson insisted that the fuss was completely unjustified, because all Jones had been talking about was ‘tweaking a diagram’.Davies told me that the email had been ‘taken out of context’ adding: ‘One definition of the word “trick” is “the best way of doing something”.

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