Exclusive: Environment Secretary turned down offer of a briefing on climate change from the Met Office

Owen Paterson's decision not to be briefed by Professor Slingo was revealed in a Freedom of Information request

Environment Editor

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson turned down the offer of a briefing on climate change from the Met Office’s chief scientist made in the run up to a series of landmark reports from the United Nations, The Independent has learnt.

Professor Dame Julia Slingo made the offer on 24 September – days before the release of the first report from the UN International Panel on Climate Change. Mr Paterson was later criticised for making what critics said was an “irresponsible and immoral” analysis of the panel’s findings.

His decision not to be briefed by Professor Slingo was revealed in a Freedom of Information request. The Environment Secretary has also turned down the offer of a climate change briefing from Professor David MacKay, the chief scientific officer at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

And it emerged last October that he has never been briefed by Sir Ian Boyd, the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

A Defra spokesman said: “The number of official meetings do not reflect the regular briefings [Owen Paterson] has had on all areas of climate-change policy – including those from the Met Office.

“In addition, the chief scientist who advises the Secretary of State also has regular discussions with Professor Slingo.”

Guy Shrubsole, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth who made the freedom of information request, said:  “Putting Owen Paterson in charge of protecting the country from climate change is like leaving the fox to guard the hen house.”

“This is a man who has wilfully ignored modern science, repeatedly ignored offers of expert advice, slashed his department’s spending on preparing for global warming, fudged the figures on flood defence investment and thinks we should all just relax after Britain was hit by the wettest winter ever,” he added.

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