By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 1, 2009 3:45 PM
A scientist who is one of the central figures in the controversy over hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit announced Tuesday that he is stepping down while the university investigates the incident.
Climate skeptics have seized on several e-mails from Phil Jones, director of the university's Climatic Research Unit, to other researchers as evidence that prominent scientists have sought to silence their voice in the debate over global warming. The e-mails were pirated and posted online last month.
"What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible," Jones said in a statement. "After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support."
East Anglia's Vice-Chancellor Professor Edward Acton said he had "accepted Professor Jones's offer to stand aside during this period. It is an important step to ensure that CRU can continue to operate normally and the independent review can conduct its work into the allegations."
Action added the university will disclose details of the probe, including who will head it and how long it will last "within days."
Marc Morano, who edits the climate skeptic blog, ClimateDepot.com, welcomed the news with an e-mail stating, "One Down: ClimateGate Scientist Phil Jones to temporarily step down... 'pending investigation into allegations that he overstated case for man-made climate change.'"