In the mucked stirred up by the CRU hack, one denialist talking point has risen to the surface:
...the Russell inquiry did not ask Jones whether he deleted any email. Russell's report cites two of the most damning deletion requests, then declares: "There seems clear incitement to delete emails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a[n FoIA] request already made."
Note the distinction between deleting emails in respect to a request already made, and deleting emails because someone might make an FoIA request to see them--something which, if I am remembering correctly, would not be illegal under U.K. law.
In any case--whatever the Russell inquiry did or did not ask--New Scientist recently put this very question to Phil Jones:
Phil, did you delete any emails out of concern that they might be the subject of FOI requests?
PJ I haven't deleted any emails that were the subject of FOI requests, but I have deleted emails because I just have too many to cope with. I'm deleting 50 every day at the moment. It would be very difficult to guess what might be asked for in the future so I don't go around deleting emails just because they might be asked for at some point.
So there you have it.