Climate row scientist 'contemplated suicide'

The scientist at the centre of the "climategate" row contemplated suicide after hackers leaked his emails suggesting that he was selectively releasing information to fit his theories of climate change.

Professor Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, said that it had been his "David Kelly moment" – a reference to the scientist who killed himself in the aftermath of the "sexed up" Iraq intelligence dossier claims. He also said that he had received death threats.

"I thought about suicide several times, but I think I've got past that stage now," he said, adding that family support had got him through the tough times.

The 57-year-old, who has lost a stone in weight and is on beta-blockers and sleeping pills, has stepped aside from his role as director of the unit while an inquiry takes place.

Hackers exposed the emails from Professor Jones just days before the Copenhagen climate summit in December. He acknowledged that he had not dealt with requests for climate data in "the right way", but said he was provoked by those obstructing his work into writing messages that his detractors claim called on colleagues to destroy or withdraw information. "It was just frustration. I thought the requests were just distractions."