Atmospheric Aerosol Researcher Asked To Destroy Document Sent In Error By The Ministry For The Environment
An internal memorandum was sent in error by an employee at the Ministry for the Environment to a post-graduate researcher named Malcolm Scott of Canterbury. Mr Scott, who is investigating issues related to atmospheric aerosol operations in New Zealand, did not realize the significance of the 6-paged document until someone called him and asked him to destroy it.
On March the 11th, Mr Scott got a phone call from a member of the Climate Directorate staff informing him that a 6-page memo had been sent in error and they wanted it destroyed. Malcolm asked for the request in writing and lo and behold, later that afternoon this arrived via email:
Can you please confirm by return that you have destroyed the 6 page internal memorandum that was inadvertently released to you under the Official information (OIA). A mistake at our end and I apologise for that.
The request came as a surprise, as he had assumed the internal memo was part of the material sent in response to his questions, which included the letter posted below and dated February the 29th, 2016. However, on examining the internal memo in more detail, he understood why the Ministry for the Environment did not want him to keep it.
Titled ‘Malcolm Scott 16-D-00142′ and dated February the 24th, 2016, the internal memo is written in relation to questions Mr Scott had submitted to the Ministry under the Official Information Act, (OIA) on February the 8th, 2016, regarding atmospheric aerosol operations.
While he is unable to allow it to be published yet, it has been cited for this article.
Under the heading ‘Risks’ the memo mentions that their response to Mr Scott is considered to be “low risk” as: “There is not much material in scope and what is released is only a list of dates.”
It also refers to the perceived risk in relation to the media, indicating that keeping atmospheric aerosol operations out of the public’s consciousness is important to the government. It states: “Correspondents often make multiple requests, but all enquiries have proved to be low risk, attracting little if any public or media attention.”