A six-month inquiry into the conduct of some of the world’s leading climate scientists has concluded that they did not manipulate data or distort the results of their studies of global warming. The independent panel, headed by former British civil servant Sir Muir Russell, was formed by the University of East Anglia after hackers stole 13 years of e-mails from scientists at the university’s Climatic Research Unit and then used the e-mails to accuse the scientists of manipulating and suppressing data. After reviewing the e-mails, Russell’s panel said that “their rigor and honesty and scientists are not in doubt” and that nothing in the e-mails undermines the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that human-caused climate change is real and intensifying. The Russell panel did conclude, however, that scientists had resisted requests to release data under the UK’s Freedom of Information statutes and that “there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness.” The Muir inquiry was the third to effectively clear the scientists involved in the so-called “Climategate” scandal of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, a study released in the U.S. showed the controversy over the hacked e-mails significantly affected public opinion, with the percentage of Americans saying they believed global warming was occurring dropping from 71 percent before the scandal to 57 percent afterwards.