Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Johann Hari apologises over plagiarism and hands back Orwell prizeAward-winning columnist to take leave of absence from Independent and undertake journalism training
reddit this Lisa O'Carroll guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 September 2011 19.29 BST Article history
The award-winning Independent columnist Johann Hari has apologised for plagiarising the work of others to improve his interviews and will take unpaid leave of absence from the paper until 2012.
Hari also apologised for editing the Wikipedia entries of people he had clashed with, using the pseudonym David Rose, "in ways that were juvenile or malicious", saying he was "mortified to have done this". He admitted calling "one of them antisemitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk".
Hari is also handing back the George Orwell prize he won as "an act of contrition for the errors I made elsewhere, in my interviews" and will undertake "a programme of journalism training" during his leave of absence.
It is understood that provided no more damaging revelations emerge about the journalist during his unpaid leave, the Independent editor, Chris Blackhurst, will allow him to return to the paper.
In a statement, the paper said that Hari "admits the central accusations made against him, that of embellishment of quotations/plagiarism, and that it was he who used the pseudonym David Rose to attack his critics".
His apology comes after an internal inquiry into the allegations against him conducted by the paper's former editor Andreas Whittam Smith.
In a formal apology published on the Independent's website, Hari admitted he did "two wrong and stupid things" – the first, inserting quotes that were not his own into interviews, and the second, deliberately editing the entry on himself in Wikipedia and using an alter ego to edit other people's entries.
"I took out nasty passages about people I admire – like Polly Toynbee, George Monbiot, Deborah Orr and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown … but in a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them antisemitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk." He added: "I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you. I apologise to the latter group unreservedly and totally."
Hari was suspended from the Independent in the summer following accusations on Twitter and blogs that some of his interviews were not entirely his own work.
Hari responded in an Independent blogpost that the accusations were "totally false" and said he had never taken words from "another context and twisted them to mean something different". But he admitted he had substituted quotes he had got from his own interviews with similar quotes from the author's own work, or from other interviews if they were more clearly expressing the same point. In his apology, he said he admitted that was wrong to say the practice of substituting quotes gained through a face-to-face interview with other quotes was justified because it gave "the clearest possible representation of what the interviewee thought".
"An interview isn't an x-ray of a person's finest thoughts. It's a report of an encounter. If you want to add material from elsewhere, there are conventions that let you do that," Hari said. "You write 'she has said,' instead of 'she says'. You write 'as she told the New York Times' or 'as she says in her book', instead of just replacing the garbled chunk she said with the clear chunk she wrote or said elsewhere."
In one interview, with journalist Ann Leslie, critics claimed more than 500 words of Hari's near-5,000 word piece came from an article she wrote in the Daily Mail.
When the allegations first surfaced the then editor of the paper, Simon Kelner, described the plagiarism row as "fabricated anger" and "politically motivated".
His successor Blackhurst took a different view, suspending the journalist and ordering an internal inquiry headed by Whittam Smith.
Hari said "the worst part" was thinking about "readers" who admired his articles and believed in the causes he championed. "I hate to think of those people feeling let down, because those causes urgently need people to stand up for them," Hari wrote.
He said he also felt bad for his colleagues at the paper. "I am horrified to think that what I have done has detracted from the way they get it right every day," he wrote. "I am sorry."
THE ORWELL PRIZE
The Prize is very grateful to its partners – the constituent bodies which are part of governing the Prize – and its sponsors.
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We believe high standards of news and information are critical to the health of our democratic society. These standards are being challenged by the enormous, revolutionary changes in the production, funding, packaging, delivery and consumption of news and information. Although the radical transformation of the news ecosystem threatens standards as never before, there is also a real opportunity for innovation in journalism.
In addition to administering the Orwell Prize, the MST has published two influential reports about the system of press self-regulation in the UK; developed www.journalisted.com to help the public navigate the news and journalists to manage an online CV; launched the Transparency Initiative, in conjunction with Sir Tim Berners Lee and the Web Science Trust, to make searching and assessing online news easier and more intelligent; and organised a series of events on why journalism matters, the future of news and other topics.
The Orwell Trust – the George Orwell Memorial Fund – was founded in 1980. When approached by Sonia Orwell to write the authorised biography of George Orwell in 1974, Bernard Crick secretly granted the hardback rights in trust to Birkbeck College. When David Astor, Orwell’s friend and editor, matched Crick’s grant in 1980 (as the book was published), the first trustees of the George Orwell Memorial Fund were appointed.
At first, the Trust gave small grants for projects by young writers, but was diverted in 1985 to endow memorial lectures at Birkbeck and the University of Sheffield and to making grants for departmental Orwell occasions. The Sheffield Lecture was discontinued in 2000.
In 1993, in conjunction with Political Quarterly, the Trust launched the Orwell Prize in its current form. The Trust continues (with Birkbeck College) to run the annual George Orwell Memorial Lecture. D. J. Taylor succeeded Sir Bernard Crick as chair of the Orwell Trust in 2008.
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Home > The Orwell Prize > Short lists > Richard Webster The Secret of Bryn Estyn: The Making of a Modern Witch Hunt
In 1991 journalists on broadsheet newspapers began to publish stories claiming that Bryn Estyn, a home for adolescent boys on the outskirts of Wrexham, lay at the centre of a network of evil – a paedophile ring whose members included a senior North Wales police officer. A massive investigation was launched which, over the next ten years, spread to care homes throughout Britain. Thousands were accused, hundreds arrested, and the prisons began to fill up with convicted care workers. Had we at last faced up to a horrifying reality? Or was there another, even more disturbing story that remained to be uncovered? Had leading journalists on quality newspapers themselves helped to set in motion a new kind of witch hunt, one that was unable to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent?
Sunday, 4 October 2009
'We have not a shred of evidence . . . '
THE TRUTH, IT WOULD seem, is finally out. As the result of the publication of another article by David Rose in the Mail on Sunday, we now know a great deal more about why Lenny Harper, the officer in charge of the Haut de la Garenne investigation in Jersey, embarked upon his sensational excavation of the grounds of the former children's home. Thanks to Rose and to Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gradwell, who took over the reins of the investigation from Harper when he retired last August, we also know that there were very good reasons for not digging. These reasons were set out by a senior Jersey police officer just eleven days before the dig began.
On 12 February 2008 the senior officer in question made his own sober assessment of the state of the evidence in an email to Jersey forensic services manager Vicky Coupland. There was, in his view, no reason even to contemplate embarking on an excavation. 'We have not a shred of evidence to suggest there is anything there,' he wrote.
According to any 'reasoned assessment', the officer in question went on to write, it was hard to see how a child could have been buried in concrete in an institution full of children. There was also the near inevitability that any excavation would throw up a series of false trails which could only have the effect of diverting the inquiry from its real object - that of investigating allegations of sexual abuse, 'There is going to be blood from spotty teenagers,' the officer wrote in his email. 'We could end up being massively distracted by small bits of blood that have no relevance. In all the statements and intelligence we have not even a suggestion that there may be or have been bodies.'
So what was the identity of this senior Jersey police officer, who assessed the folly of embarking on an excavation so soberly and so well? Curiously enough it was none other than Lenny Harper himself.
Given Harper's momentary wisdom, the question which needs to be answered is how it was that he came to change his mind. Since Harper's original instincts were so sound, whose forensic intelligence took over and eventually came to drive the entire investigation? The picture at the beginning of this post provides a clue. For more details read David Rose's article.
Posted by RW at 09:25
Here we are in the middle of April 2010. Nothing has been done to bring Harper and Graham Power to book. Harper retired last August. Power remains suspended.He goes in July and the clock is ticking to that end, and yet questions remain as to why Power, as Chief Constable, didn't intervene or show any leadership, when his deputy was so obviously in control. Was Power constrained for some reason? Both have contributed to the rambling hate filled political blog of self exiled Senator Stuart Syvret.He has remained in London,despite a trivial driving license offence, supported by some very unworldly Liberal Democrat MP's.Though I doubt they support him now.Harper's lone investigation to seek murder, torture and complicate political pedophilia has cost Jersey dearly.The cost of that investigation is almost a third of the budget deficit.
17 April 2010 21:04
11 July 2010 07:48
Now that the Wiltshire police report is out and clearly demonstrates a catastrophic failure in all aspects of the Jersey abuse enquiry and no culpability for those police officers, whom are allowed to retire on full pensions, something might be learnt in the future.
17 July 2010 00:08
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The Great Children’s
by RICHARD WEBSTER
The Orwell Press,
Paperback Original, pp. 70, 1998
DURING THE LAST TEN years an entirely new kind of police investigation has evolved. Conducted on a massive scale at huge public expense, its main aim has been to gather retrospective allegations of sexual abuse against care workers. Thousands of such allegations have now been collected and slowly but surely our prisons are filling up with care workers who have been convicted as a result.
Have we at last faced up to a horrifying reality? Or have we unleashed a witch-hunt which is unable to discriminate between those who are guilty and those who are innocent, and which is, because of the huge power of individual police forces, already out of control?
Published in 1998, The Great Children’s Home Panic was the first book to raise serious questions about a kind of police operation which has used up hundreds of millions of pounds of public money and resulted in allegations being trawled by the police against thousands of former care workers and teachers.
To mark its publication I wrote, together with the investigative journalist Bob Woffinden, an article for Guardian Weekend, ‘Abuse in the balance’, which focused on the cases of four innocent victims of trawling – Terry Hoskin, Brian Hudson, Danny Smith and Roy Shuttleworth. In this article we wrote that ‘The evidence now emerging suggests that retrospective investigations into care homes have led to the gravest series of miscarriages of justice in modern British history.’
Bob Woffinden has since written about police trawling in other articles, including Unsafe convictions and Trawling goes on trial, but who pays the price?
Some two years ago, after reading The Great Children's Home Panic, the journalist David Rose became interested in the problem of police trawling. Together with producer Gary Horne, he mounted a full scale investigation into the case of Roy Shuttleworth. This led to the making of a BBC Panorama film, In the name of the children, shown in November 2000, which established beyond reasonable doubt that Shuttleworth could not have committed the offences he was convicted of and that all eight of the men who made allegations against him in his criminal trial had fabricated their complaints. The transcript of this programme, the responses of viewers , and the Observer article which David Rose and Gary Horne wrote about the case are all available online.
David Rose has since written an Observer news story about trawling and an in-depth investigation of the case of Brian Ely.
Following the transmission of the Panorama programme, and the acquittal of former Southampton football manager David Jones, who had faced a number of trawled allegations, Merseyside MP Claire Curtis-Thomas took a special interest in the problem of police trawling. She eventually became chair of an all-party committee looking into false allegations. Among the members of this committee are former Crosby MP Baroness Shirley Williams, and Earl Howe, who initiated a House of Lords debate on false allegations which took place in October 2001.
As a result of gathering pressure, including that exerted by the grass-roots campaigning organisation F.A.C.T. (False Allegations Against Carers and Teachers), the issue of police trawling was, after twelve long years, placed on a real political agenda.
In January 2002 the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, under the chairmanship of Chris Mullin MP, announced a full-scale inquiry into the practice of police trawling. David Rose, Bob Woffinden and I were invited to give evidence to the first session of this inquiry which took place on 14 May 2002. Details of subsequent sessions can be found on the Home Affairs Committee website.
At the beginning of April 2002 the spectacular collapse of Operation Rose, the massive trawling operation conducted by police in the north east, added to the growing disquiet about such investigations.
Some observers, including lawyers, believe that nationally as many as a hundred completely innocent men, and at least two women, have been convicted in the last ten years and are serving sentences of up to fifteen years. These miscarriages of justice are the result of police methods which have themselves evolved in response to a number of highly dangerous developments in the law.