I wrote this last Sunday, then just saved it, in case the Sunday Times got it wrong.
But the impression made by the headline story is much greater than the truth that I have just picked up on Real Climate, namely, that the destroyed data were just copies. Maybe best to have kept them, for reference, but the original datasets are safe in the National Met Service.
Source. (click on comments, go to #218).
Here's what I wrote at the time:
It is disturbing to read in the Sunday Times that in the 1980s the Climate Research Unit dumped the original paper and computer tape data relating to global temperature measurements.
Who took this decision? Why? It is pretty weak to say, as they do, that climate change was not seen as such a pressing issue in the 1980s.
Data should be sacrosanct in science. It should not be destroyed.
I bet they kept the minutes of the meetings that made the decision to destroy the data. Better put them under police guard before someone "loses" them too.
Of course, the Sunday Times report may be inaccurate, and someone may have a copy of the data.