A row between weathermen threatens to wreck a BBC-funded project to test the accuracy of Britain’s weather forecasts.
The study, estimated to have cost tens of thousands of pounds of licence fee payers’ money, has been devised by the BBC’s senior environment analyst, Roger Harrabin.
But seven of the eight forecasters and bodies asked to take part have not agreed, with two blaming Mr Harrabin for undermining the study’s credibility, claiming that his reputation is tarnished by his close links to green groups who believe in man-made climate change.
Last year The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr Harrabin accepted £15,000 in grants from the university at the heart of the ‘Climategate’ scandal in which scientists were accused of exaggerating the effect of climate change. He used the money from the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to fund seminars run by an ‘ad hoc’ partnership of himself and a friend.
The BBC Weather Test was trumpeted as the first assessment of the reliability of forecasting after a series of blunders including the Met Office’s forecast of a ‘barbecue summer’ of 2009 that never was and the failure to warn the public of the very cold winter of 2010.
But the project, supported by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, has descended into chaos. It has been dogged by disagreements between the BBC and the forecasters from its start nearly two years ago. The Met Office, the national forecasting body, says it won’t commit until it is sure the tests are ‘scientifically robust’ and will not cost any more ‘taxpayers’ money’.
Updated below with MUST READ comments from Piers Corbyn
Independent forecaster Piers Corbyn has described Mr Harrabin as an ‘excessively deluded disciple of the warmist brigade’ tainted by his links to climate change groups. Mr Corbyn, who runs Weather Action, also says he will not take part if meteorologist Philip Eden, a former vice president of the Royal Meteorological Society, is involved. Mr Eden was to be on the Weather Test judging panel. But Mr Corbyn said he has made disparaging remarks questioning the accuracy of his and other independent weathermen’s forecasts.
Mr Eden says he has dropped out of the project for personal reasons.
Another independent forecaster, David King, says he has ‘ducked out’ because the project became so ‘factional’ and because of reports that Mr Harrabin has taken money from green groups.
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