(Dow Jones) Climate scientists at the center of a row over the reliability of climate science were found to be honest and rigorous, but lacking in openness, the final inquiry into hacked e-mails at the U.K.'s Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia said Wednesday in London.
The inquiry, which is chaired by former civil servant Muir Russell and commissioned by the UEA, also said it found no evidence of behavior from scientists that might undermine the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's assessments on global warming.
"We find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt," Russell said.
"In addition, we do not find that their behavior has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers," Russell said.
But he added that "the consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness," both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA, in response to freedom of information requests, risked the reputation of the university and the credibility of U.K. climate science.
The Independent Climate Change Emails Review was set up to examine the conduct of the scientists involved, examine allegations about the behavior of the scientists and make recommendations to the UEA.
The issue has been at the heart of a row over the reliability of data supporting the conclusion that climate change is happening and is man-made. The row also overshadowed last year's Copenhagen climate conference where world leaders failed to agree a legally binding treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The UEA's CRU--one of the main contributors of temperature data to the U.N.'s IPCC--has come under increasing attack following last year's publication without authorization of around 1,000 hacked emails from the unit concerning its raw data on global temperatures.
Climate skeptics said the emails showed the CRU manipulated and suppressed data to overstate the dangers posed by climate change.
But the Muir Russell inquiry, which considered detailed submissions from climate researchers and critics, as well as interviews with key scientists, dismissed those accusations.