Disgraced Journalist Johann Hari Will Not Return To The Independent

Huffington Post UK    
First Posted: 21/01/2012 14:38 Updated: 22/01/2012 11:58

Disgraced columnist Johann Hari will not return to his job at the Independent newspaper.

Hari took the decision not to return after his suspension on plagiarism claims, because he said he did not want the paper to "take the flack [sic]" for his actions.

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst had told the Leveson inquiry into media ethics that Hari would return early this year.

But Hari, writing on his website, said that after "plenty of time to reflect" he had decided not to take the paper up on its offer.

He wrote: "There are two reasons. I'm willing to take the flack for my errors myself: when you screw up, you should pay a price.

"But I'm not willing to see other people, who are played no part in those errors and are unimpeachably decent people, take the flack too. It's not fair on them. The Independent has been great to me, and we need its principles in the public arena without distractions.

"Secondly, while doing some journalistic retraining in the US, I've started working on a book on a subject I believe is important and requires urgent action.

"To be done properly it needs international travel and the kind of in depth focus that's not possible when you are writing a heavily researched column at the same time."

Blackhurst said: "Johann Hari has informed me that he has decided to leave the Independent to pursue his book project. We thank him for his hard work and his contribution to the papers, and wish him every success for the future."

Hari, who has also blogged for the Huffington Post, on a voluntary basis, was accused as early as 2003 by Private Eye for publishing plagiarised articles, and in June last year the criticism became widespread after investigative work by the Deterritorial Support Grouppppp and journalist Brian Whelan, among others, were picked up by the Guardian and other newspapers.

At first Hari denied the accusations, but did admit that he had quoted people he interviewed "as they expressed [their thoughts] in writing, rather than how they expressed it in speech".

But the controversy persisted as other publications and bloggers compared Hari's work with other published articles, and appeared to find several cases of plagiarism within them.

The legal blogger David Allen Green also accused Hari of editing articles about himself and smearing others on Wikipedia.

Hari eventually had his 2008 Orwell Prize rescinded after the council reviewed the author's work .

Hari apologised for his actions, a move that also still managed to garner criticism.

Speaking at the Leveson inquiry Chris Blackhurst had defended the columnist, saying that Hari had not invented facts for hard news stories, and that while his actions were still serious he had learned his lesson.

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