The University of East Anglia's climatic research unit did not engage in "scientific malpractice," concluded an independent panel convened to delve into charges of data tampering.
The unit at the British university became embroiled in controversy last year when climate change skeptics, using more than 1,000 emails stolen from university, charged that scientists had tampered with data to exaggerate the threat of global warming. The incident was dubbed "climategate" by various commentators.
The inquiry followed a review of 11 scientific papers published by the unit. It concluded Wednesday it found "absolutely no evidence of any impropriety."
The review — conducted by a panel of experts recommended by the Royal Society — did not analyze the correctness of the conclusions but gave the scientific processes at the climatic research unit a "clean bill of health."
The panel's mandate was to examine whether the research unit's staff dishonestly selected climate data and whether staff had manipulated it to arrive at pre-determined conclusions.
"We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the climatic research unit, and had it been there, we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it," the panel said.
"Rather, we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganized researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups, their internal procedures were rather informal."
However, the panel did express surprise that there was not more collaboration between unit researchers and professional statisticians given that their research is heavily dependent on statistics.
The panel's findings have not completely silenced critics, who point out the panel's chair, Lord Oxburgh, is president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association and chairman of wind energy firm Falck Renewables.
While Lord Oxburgh said the panel did not have a pre-conceived view, critics say clean energy companies would benefit from policies to tackle climate change, according to the BBC.
The University of East Anglia issued a news release Wednesday stating that it welcomed the report and pointing out that it was one of several reviews of the unit's work, none of which had found any misconduct.
The first was a peer review, and the second was an inquiry by the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee.
"Taken together, these must represent one of the most searching examinations of any body of scientific research," says the release. "The veracity of CRU's research remains intact after this examination