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Independent columnist apologises for plagiarism


Cahal Milmo
Thursday 15 September 2011 00:01 BST

Johann Hari, the writer and columnist for The Independent, has admitted plagiarism allegations and will attend a journalism training course before being allowed to rejoin the newspaper.

Independent Print Limited (IPL), the owner of The Independent, said that Hari had acknowledged embellishing quotations in articles and plagiarism following an examination of evidence by Andreas Whittam Smith, a former editor of the paper. Hari was suspended in July to allow the claims to be investigated.

Whittam Smith recommended that Hari, who also accepted that he had used a pseudonym - David Rose - to attack his critics by editing their Wikipedia entries, should be allowed to return to working for The Independent subject to certain conditions.

The writer, who has apologised for his actions, is to take four months' unpaid leave to undertake a programme of journalism training at his own expense. He will also return the Orwell Prize which was awarded to him in 2008.

Chris Blackhurst, editor of The Independent, said: "We always pride ourselves on pursuing the highest ethical standards at The Independent. Regrettably, Johann fell below those in some aspects of his journalism. He has acknowledged his mistakes and made a full apology. There is no doubting his talent as a columnist and we are hoping to see him back in The Independent in the not too distant future.”

Hari was suspended for two months following allegations first raised by an anonymous blogger that he had used quotations in interviews which were used in previous articles by different authors or had been taken from the interviewees' own work. Hari confirmed that he had done so without making it clear to readers that the quotations had not come from his own interviews.

In an article to be published in The Independent print edition tomorrow, Hari acknowledges that he has done “wrong and stupid things”. He said that after demanding high standards of others in his journalism, he should be equally critical of himself for failing to uphold those same standards.

Hari wrote: “I would like to apologise again to my readers, my colleagues and the people hurt by my actions. I know that some of you have lost faith in my work. I will do everything I can now to regain it. I hope, after a period of retraining, you will give me the chance.”

The columnist said he stood by the articles for which he had been given the Orwell Prize for journalism, adding that two witnesses working for a charity had corroborated one of the award-winning stories, written in 2007 about the Central African Republic. The article had been the subject of anonymous claims about its accuracy which Hari said had been resolved by the witnesses.

But Hari said he felt his apology should be made at a personal cost and his decision to return the Orwell Prize was an act of contrition for the errors made in his interviews.

IPL said its report on Hari’s conduct was private and will not be made public.

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