Sacked Times journalist in $900k book deal row

By Zoe Smith

A former Times journalist is at the centre of a plagiarism row over a six-figure book deal, and questions have also been raised over her journalism while she was at the paper.

Emily Davies, 28, was dismissed by The Times last year following an investigation into alleged expenses irregularities.

Now a proposed book, which fetched a reported $900,000 (£515,000) advance from a US publisher, is the subject of plagiarism claims.

The Times is pursuing her for costs after she dropped her action for unfair dismissal a month ago.

In a statement released to Press Gazette , Davies has admitted to "accidental misattribution" in her book proposal, but firmly denied allegations of misconduct while she was at The Times.

Her book, How to Wear Black — Adventures from Fashion’s Front Line, is promoted as a memoir about her four years as a fashion writer for The Times.

But the 79-page proposal contains material taken from the New York Times by journalist Monique P Yazigi.

In the proposal, Davies also claims to have met senior journalists at American Vogue, who have since denied ever having met her.

Press Gazette has seen Times articles written by Davies that so annoyed journalists at rival publications that they complained to her bosses.

In one article from 2002, several sentences of quotes and two sentences of copy are identical to an earlier article from a rival paper.

In another Times article, from 2004, Davies quotes lengthily from fashion writers Susie Boyt and Cathy Horyn, without saying that the words came from their columns in the Financial Times and the New York Times respectively.

Journalists spoken to by Press Gazette feel this overstepped the line of standard practice. Davies was asked to apologise to one of the rivals.

Davies joined The Times on a graduate trainee scheme and was fired by managing editor Anne Spackman in June 2005 following a dispute over expenses.

Davies hired lawyers to take The Times to a tribunal, but dropped the case less than two weeks before the pre-hearing.

A senior fashion journalist said of Davies’ book proposal: "I’ve seen the synopsis — she says she went to J-Lo’s wedding in Como. She didn’t, she was in Wapping at the time."

Davies’s boyfriend, Times columnist Jonathan Gornall, instructed lawyers to stop Press Gazette from using a publicity photograph of her that he had shot and which was sent out with a press release.

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