Independent journalist Johann Hari is to be reinstated next year despite admitting plagiarism, making up quotes and using a fake name to write malicious entries about people on Wikipedia.
Hari has been suspended since July and since then founding editor of The Independent Andreas Whittam Smith has conducted an ‘examination of the evidence’against him.
He has recommended that Hari be allowed to return to the paper next year after four months unpaid leave during which time he will undertake a period of journalism training at his own expense. Hari yesterday returned the Orwell Prize for journalism that was awarded to him in 2008.
Chris Blackhurst, who took over as Independent editor at the beginning of July, is quoted in today’s paper noting that Hari has ‘acknowledged his mistakes and made a full apology”, adding: ‘There is no doubting his talent as a columnist and we are hoping to see him back in the not too distant future.”
In a lengthy apology, also published in today’s Independent, Hari admitted doing ‘two wrong and stupid things”. He admitted to taking quotes from an interviewee’s writing, or given to another journalist, and using them as if they were his own work.
He said: ‘I was wrong. An interview isn’t an X-ray of a person’s finest thoughts. It’s a report of an encounter.”
Hari also admitted using a fake user-name to edit his entry on Wikipedia and to edit the entries of people he had ‘clashed with’and to having done so ‘in ways that were juvenile or malicious”.
But Hari denies possibly the most damaging allegation against him – that he made up quotes exaggerating the effects if French bombing of the Central African Republic in 2007.
Hari wrote today that two representatives of the NGO that he travelled with have come forward to say that his description of the bombing was accurate.
He said that he is giving back the Orwell Prize – even though he stands by the articles which won him it.
When he returns to work, Hari said he plans to post the audio online of any on-the-record conversations his articles are based on.
The Independent has said it will not publish its internal report on the Jahann Hari affair because it is “private”.