(Editor’s note: Lord Christopher Monckton has written the following statement, and he proposes that it be issued by Dr. Charles Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.)
THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, its Astronomical Observatory, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics unreservedly retract, apologize for, and undertake not to repeat recent public statements or implications by us or by our senior personnel to the effect that (1) we proposed to investigate Dr. Soon’s alleged failure to disclose a source of funding for his research when we knew the responsibility and the failure were ours alone; (2) Dr. Soon should not have described his affiliation as “Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics”; (3) the Center does not exist; (4) Dr. Soon holds no Harvard appointment; (5) we do not fund him, (6) he is merely a “part-time researcher”; (7) his research is not of the highest quality; (8) he does not consider Man a cause of climate change; (9) he had violated some journals’ non-disclosure standards; and (10) his behavior was inappropriate. All these statements or implications were in every material particular false and calculated gravely to damage Dr. Soon in his reputation and calling, to deter actual or potential funders, including the funder who has now withdrawn, and to leave Dr. Soon destitute.
It was we who funded Dr. Soon’s research from grants including a grant from a corporate donor whom he had attracted. It was we and not Dr. Soon who had negotiated the terms of the funding contract with the donor, signed it and received the grant. It was we and not Dr. Soon who had agreed to a contract term obliging us and, therefore, Dr. Soon not to disclose the donor’s identity. Dr. Soon acted correctly in adhering scrupulously to the legal obligation of nondisclosure for whose existence we alone were responsible. It was we who acted in breach of contract by disclosing the funder’s identity. Our parent body, the Smithsonian Institution, now forbids us to enter into such non-disclosure agreements with research funders.
The recent campaign by advocacy groups against Dr. Soon arose because we had dishonored a non-disclosure obligation to which we had agreed: for we disclosed the donor’s identity in response to an advocacy group’s Freedom of Information request, even though we are not bound by freedom-of-information laws. We were under no legal or other obligation to make that disclosure. We were legally obliged not to make it. Any blame for alleged non-disclosure by Dr. Soon of the donor’s identity lies solely with us. I personally retract and apologize for my explicit or implicit statements that Dr. Soon had “violated the disclosure standards of some journals” and that his behavior was “inappropriate.”
I now accept that the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory, through which we employ Dr. Soon, is part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I now accept that the Center exists and that I am its director. I now accept that one of my predecessors had issued to Dr. Soon an instruction, not since rescinded, to state his affiliation as “Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.” I retract and apologize for my earlier false statement that “there is no such entity” and my false implication that Dr. Soon, in describing his affiliation as being to the Center, was falsely claiming “a Harvard appointment.”
Via the Smithsonian Trust Fund, the Center is Dr. Soon’s sole source of funding. Dr. Soon correctly and sufficiently discloses his sole source of funding in stating his affiliation to the Center. Dr. Soon has always disclosed to us who has offered to support his research. We, not Dr. Soon, have always negotiated contracts with donors and have retained the majority of the funding for overhead and expenses.
Dr. Soon is a full-time researcher but has been working part-time for medical reasons. His research is of the highest quality: in 2003 we gave him an award for it. Dr Kress, the Smithsonian’s under-secretary for science, retracts and apologizes for a recent public statement by him questioning the quality of Dr. Soon’s research.
Finally, Dr. Soon has at all times acknowledged that man is a contributor to the evolution of the global climate, as a recent paper that he co-authored specifically and repeatedly acknowledges. We now accept that the question how much warming we may cause and the question of the extent to which solar variability modulates terrestrial climatic variability are legitimate and valuable research questions.
We failed to protect and defend Dr. Soon, a long-standing, loyal and diligent employee, against repeated efforts by an advocacy group and its ideological allies to undermine his research and to sully his reputation professionally and personally. Instead we issued many false statements calculated to make matters worse for him. We acted as we did because we decided, wrongly, that only one scientific position on the question of anthropogenic climate change was permissible. We now acknowledge that climate science is not settled science and that, even if it were, we should not have mistreated our employee of 25 years’ standing as unfairly as we did.
We have already retracted one of our earlier statements to Dr. Soon’s detriment and we now retract them all. We acknowledge that our senior personnel were privately invited to withdraw our allegations and implications against him at an earlier stage but we have only now acted. I personally apologize for having failed even to reply to that correspondence. I acknowledge that my failure was not only imprudent and improper but calculated to be detrimental to Dr. Soon. Our unreasonable delay in restoring Dr. Soon’s reputation has considerably aggravated the grave damage that our false statements and implications were calculated to cause to his reputation.
Dr. Soon is manifestly blameless. It is we who are solely to blame. In recognition of the damage we have done to him, we have agreed to pay him an agreed sum in substantial damages and to meet his legal costs in full.