Jason Watkins as Phil Jones
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The Trick on BBC One: Where is professor Phil Jones from ‘Climategate’ scandal now?

Jason Watkins plays the real life character in the excellent film

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The Trick on BBC One dramatises the real-life plight of climate scientist Phil Jones, who was caught up in the so-called ‘Climategate’ scandal of  2009 – but where is he now?

The conspiracy thriller is an excellent film based on the real events of 2009, when Professor Jones had his life upended by hackers.

He was accused of lying about global warming, and subsequently publicly shamed.

But none of it was true.

Here’s everything you need to know!

The Trick BBC One
Jason Watkins and Victoria Hamilton star in The Trick (Credit: BBC One)

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The Trick on BBC One – Jason Watkins plays Phil Jones

Jason Watkins, 54, portrays the traumatised professor Phil Jones.

He finds himself at the centre of the media storm when his life is torn apart by hackers.

In 2009, cyberterrorists hacked into Phil Jones’ computers.

They doctored evidence and Phil was denounced for making up lies about global warning.

He hadn’t – but the public didn’t know that.

Academic Phil preferred to be behind the scenes but, to his horror, was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

The intensity of the experience rendered him so traumatised he could barely speak.

The private and mild-mannered man even received death threats.

With the help of a team of experts – police, PR strategists, crisis managers and cyberterrorist experts, Phil was eventually able to clear his name.

But, arguably, it took years for the public to trust the data after the waters had been muddied.

Who is Phil Jones, who Jason Watkins plays in The Trick?

Phil Jones was born in Redhill, Surrey.

He obtained a B.A. in Environmental Sciences from Lancaster University, and went on to gain a M.Sc. in Engineering Hydrology and a Ph.D. in Hydrology from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The professor spent his entire career with the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

He began as a Senior Research Associate in 1976, advancing to Reader in 1994 and later to Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences in 1998.

His research interests include instrumental climate change, palaeoclimatology, detection of climate change and the extension of riverflow records in the UK.

Phil Jones has also published papers on the temperature record of the past 1000 years.

The Trick BBC One
Phil Jones was the target of cyberterrorists (Credit: BBC One)

The Trick – where is Phil Jones  now?

Phil Jones is now 69 years of age.

Today he is one of the world’s most cited and respected climate scientists.

He still works at the Climatic Research Unit where he and other members of CRU continue to measure the increases in global temperature.

Phil served as Director of the CRU for 18 years until he retired at the end of 2016.

He temporarily stepped aside from Director of the CRU in November 2009 following the controversy over e-mails which were stolen and published.

The House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry concluded that there was no case against Jones for him to answer.

He was reinstated in his post in July 2010 with the newly created role of Director of Research.

The professor has been on the editorial board of Climatic Change since 2004.

Professor Jones now wants to highlight that the science on climate change is even stronger than it was back then.

The idea for The Trick came from Professor Jones and his former colleagues at the university.

He felt the story needed to be told, but admits seeing the film still “feels pretty raw”.

Were the hackers ever caught?

The source of the hack were never found, so could not be prosecuted.

Phil Jones and his team were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Later, experts said the damage caused by the hack in terms of perception of climate change had potentially set the fight against it back by up to 10 years.

The Trick airs on Monday October 18 2021 at 8:30pm on BBC One.

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