The organisers of the Orwell Prize have delayed announcing a decision on whether to strip Johann Hari of his 2008 journalism award until The Independent has completed its own internal misconduct investigation.
The Orwell Prize launched its investigation into whether Hari should keep the award on 30 June, after he admitted inserting unattributed quotes into his articles, including from old interviews and books written by his subjects.
Since then, however, he has faced more accusations, and on 12 July he was suspended for two months by The Independent.
A statement released by the Council of the Orwell Prize this afternoon said it met on 21 July and reached a ‘clear and unanimous decision, which drew from the combined journalistic and academic expertise of its members”.
It continued: ‘It also considered a representation by Johann Hari in its deliberation, and appropriate weight was placed upon it. The Council of the Orwell Prize is fully satisfied that it has adopted the appropriate procedure for an exercise of this kind.
‘The Independent has now requested that the council consider further representations by Johann Hari before announcing the decision. However, it would appear that Johann Hari is not permitted to make any further representations whilst The Independent’s investigation is conducted.”
The council said it had ‘reluctantly consented’to delay the formal announcement until The Independent has finished its investigation, which is believed to be led by former editor Andreas Whittam-Smith, adding: ‘We will take no further action and make no further statements until that time.”
Hari won the 2008 Orwell Prize for five articles including ‘France’s Secret War’in the Central African Republic and a profile on Gordon Brown’s intellectual hero James Maxton.
When it launched the investigation organisers insisted no allegations had been made against any of the prize-winning pieces.
However, a report in this week’s Private Eye raised question over quotes used in “France’s Secret War” which it said “exagarated the extent of destruction in Birao”.
Hari was suspended from The Independent shortly after Chris Blackhurst took over as editor on 1 July.