The stolen emails at the centre of the 'climategate' scandal were probably hacked by spies from a foreign intelligence agency, the Government's former chief scientist has said.
The Telegraph 01 February 2010
Sir David King, who for seven years was Tony Blair's foremost scientific adviser, said the "extraordinarily sophisticated" hacking job was most likely an intelligence operation by foreign spies.
He said the hacking of hundreds of emails dating back thirteen years from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, and the subsequent leaking of the information, was unlikely to be the work of an ordinary hacker.
The emails, which included private messages between scientists that implied possible scientific misconduct, were stolen from a university server and leaked shortly before the Copenhagen climate conference in December, when they could have maximum impact.
Sir David told The Independent: "There are several bodies of people who could do this sort of work. These are national intelligence agencies and it seems to me that it was the work of such a group of people."
About 1,000 emails and 2,000 documents were stolen from the university's backup server – which is difficult to access remotely – but these represented a fraction of the total information stored for the 13-year period.
This could suggest the hackers were looking for something specific, namely passages of emails relating to potential scientific misconduct and violations of the Freedom of Information Act, in order to cause maximum damage ahead of the Copenhagen summit.