Johann Hari

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Johann Hari
Johann Hari
Born (1979-01-21) 21 January 1979 (age 35)
Glasgow, Scotland
Nationality British
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Occupation Writer and Journalist
Religion None

Johann Eduard Hari (born 21 January 1979) is a British writer and journalist who has written regular columns for The Independent (London) and The Huffington Post and made contributions to several other publications. In 2011, he was suspended from The Independent following multiple charges of plagiarism and was separately accused of making malicious edits of several of his critics' Wikipedia pages under a pseudonym,[1] an allegation he later admitted to.[2] The exposed plagiarism led to his being forced to return his 2008 Orwell Prize[3] and later was a contributing factor in his leaving The Independent.[4]

Early life[edit]

Hari was born in Glasgow and raised in London from the age of one. He attended John Lyon School, (an independent school affiliated to Harrow School) and then Woodhouse College, a state sixth-form in Finchley.[5] He graduated from King's College, Cambridge, in 2001 with a double first in Social and Political Sciences.[6]


In 2000 he was joint winner of The Times Student News Journalist of the Year award for his work on the Cambridge student newspaper Varsity. After university he joined the New Statesman, where he worked between 2001 and 2003, and then wrote two columns a week for The Independent. At the 2003 Press Gazette Awards, he won Young Journalist of the Year.[7] A play by Hari, Going Down in History, was performed at the Garage Theatre in Edinburgh, and his book God Save the Queen? was published by Icon Books in 2002.[7]

In addition to being a columnist for The Independent, Hari's work also appeared in The Huffington Post, New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Nation, Le Monde, El Pais, The Sydney Morning Herald and Ha'aretz. He appeared regularly as an arts critic on the BBC Two programme The Review Show, and he was a book critic for Slate. In 2009 he was named by The Daily Telegraph as one of the most influential people on the left in Britain.[8]

In January 2012, Hari wrote that he was working on a book about the war on drugs.[9]

Hari is currently the producer of Russell Brand's YouTube series, "The Trews".[10]

Personal views[edit]

Hari has declared his sympathy with the environmental movement,[11] republicanism,[12] and drug legalisation.[13] He is gay[14] and a self-declared secularist and atheist.[15]

Hari supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq,[16] based on a visit to Iraq in December 2002[17] and a March 2003 story by Kenneth Joseph.[18] In 2006 he reversed this position.[19]

Journalistic controversy[edit]

In June 2011 Hari was accused of plagiarism in his use of unattributed quotations in interviews, where he had used previously published quotes in place of his interviewees' recorded answers. The Orwell Prize, which he had won in 2008, was withdrawn following a comparison between one of the articles for which he had won the award and the original Der Spiegel article on which it was based. He was shown to have made misleading edits on Wikipedia under a pseudonym. Hari apologised for his actions, although that apology was publicly criticised.[20][21][22]


Problems with Hari's journalism were first publicized by the magazine Private Eye in 2003.[23] In 2011 bloggers DSG (Deterritorial Support Group) and Brian Whelan (editor of Yahoo! Ireland) highlighted his plagiarism by comparing Hari's interviews with previous interviews by other journalists and previous written works by his interview subjects. The story was taken up by The Guardian,[24] The Telegraph,[25] and The Washington Post.[26]

Initially Hari said on his blog[27] that he had taken material previously written by interviewees and presented it as part of the interview, but said that this was not plagiarism as he was not passing off someone else's thoughts as his own. Later, both on his blog[28] and in The Independent,[29] Hari said his use of unattributed quotes was only a clarification. Reviewing this defence, The Guardian's media law consultant focused on copyright issues.[30] The newspaper's former editor, Peter Preston, wrote that Hari had been foolish, but not dishonest as his attackers alleged.[31] Simon Kelner, then editor-in-chief of The Independent, said on 28 June that the newspaper had not previously received any complaints about Johann Hari.[32] In July 2011, Hari was suspended from The Independent for two months[33] "pending investigation" by Andreas Whittam Smith.[34]

Brian Whelan compared Hari's 2010 interview with Gideon Levy[35] against Levy's previous writing.[36]

Guy Walters in the New Statesman compared Hari's 2006 interview with Hugo Chávez[37] with earlier interviews with Chavez by other journalists.[38][39]

Other interviews with Malalai Joya,[40] with Ann Leslie,[41] with George Michael,[42] and with Gareth Thomas[43] were also shown to have used misattributed quotations copied from earlier works[44] and other interviews.[45][46][47]

Orwell Prize withdrawal[edit]

In June 2011, the Media Standards Trust announced that they recognised the potential of allegations of plagiarism to damage the reputation of the Orwell Prize,[48] which Hari had been awarded in 2008 (as the youngest-ever recipient[49]), and instructed the Council of the Orwell Prize to take action[50] to examine the allegations. A month later the spokesman for the Council of the Orwell Prize announced that it had "arrived at a clear and unanimous decision" as to whether Hari would be allowed to retain the prize he had been awarded in 2008. Public announcement was delayed after the Independent had "requested that the council consider further representations by Johann Hari before announcing the decision",[51] which could not be made while the Independent inquiry was ongoing.

In July 2011, both Private Eye and Damian Thompson in his Telegraph blog accused Hari of inventing an atrocity for his Orwell Prize winning article on the Central African Republic. Thompson said that this "horrified the charity so much that it complained to Simon Kelner, the editor of The Independent. Nothing happened".[52][53][54]

In September 2011 Johann Hari announced that, though he stood by the articles which won the Orwell Prize in 2008, he would be returning it as an act of contrition for the errors he had made elsewhere.[55] The return of the plaque by courier was confirmed by the Council of the Orwell Prize.[56] Later the Council confirmed that the Orwell Prize would have been withdrawn had Hari not returned it, because after reviewing one particular article, 'How multiculturalism is betraying women', "The Council concluded that the article contained inaccuracies and conflated different parts of someone else's story (specifically, a report in Der Spiegel). The Council ruled that the substantial use of unattributed and unacknowledged material did not meet the standards expected of Orwell Prize-winning journalism". The council also disclosed that Hari had not returned the prize money he received of £2,000.[57]

Wikipedia editing[edit]

In July 2011 New Statesman legal correspondent David Allen Green wrote on his personal blog that in January 2005 a Wikipedia user had discovered that a Wikipedia editor, David Rose, using the sockpuppet account 'David r from meth productions' shared an IP address with The Independent newspaper.[58] On the same day Nick Cohen in The Spectator[59] wrote that he had been attacked on Wikipedia by David Rose following a dispute with Johann Hari, as had Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone,[60] and Oliver Kamm, the Times leader writer.[61] Cohen also wrote that Hari's own Wikipedia entry had been edited by Rose "to make him seem one of the essential writers of our times".[59]

In September 2011 "David Rose" was shown to be Johann Hari.[62]


The Independent reported in September 2011 that "Johann Hari, the writer and columnist for The Independent, had admitted plagiarism allegations and would attend a journalism training course before being allowed to rejoin the newspaper" but that the results of the investigation by Whittam Smith are not to be made public.[63] The editor of The Independent, Chris Blackhurst, said that some aspects of Hari's journalism had fallen short of the publication's ethical standards, and that Hari had "acknowledged his mistakes and made a full apology."[63]

Hari published an apology and admission of misconduct,[55] and admitted to using a pseudonym to add positive material to the Wikipedia article about himself and negative material to Wikipedia articles about people he had had disputes with.[55] Hari said he would take unpaid personal leave of absence until 2012 and seek training in journalistic ethics at his own expense.

According to Blackhurst, speaking as a witness during the Leveson inquiry on 10 January 2012, Hari had "severely damaged" the paper, but announced that he would return to The Independent during February as a columnist.[64] This development was soon reversed. On his blog,[65] Hari stated on 20 January 2012 that, following his stay in the U.S., he had decided not to return to his job at The Independent, because he was going to write a book which would require international travel. Writing on his website, Hari stated: "I'm not willing to see other people, who played no part in those errors .... take the flak, too."[66]

Criticism of apology[edit]

After Hari's apology was published, Cristina Odone, blogging for The Telegraph, said that neither she nor the other victims had received any direct apology from The Independent or from Hari himself for his malicious editing of their Wikipedia articles.[67]

The published apology attracted a strongly-worded critique from journalist Toby Young, who also criticized The Independent for failing to sack Hari.[68] Tom Chivers, also in The Daily Telegraph, called the apology "evasive",[20] while Richard Seymour wrote in The Guardian that the apology was "self-serving" and that Hari had acknowledged "none of the serious charges made against him..." .[21] David Allen Green in the New Statesman wrote: "the terms of the apology do not really approximate to what was actually done. Something very wrong happened, over a significant amount of time, involving a systemic exercise of malice and dishonesty".[22] David Rennie of The Economist criticized "the weasel wording of Mr Hari's apology," and countered that Hari's problem was "not one of training... it was one of character."[69]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deans, Jason; Kiss, Jemima (12 July 2011). "Johann Hari suspended from the Independent following plagiarism row". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Hari, Johann (15 September 2011). "Johann Hari: A personal apology". The Independent (London). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "and Johann Hari". The Orwell Prize. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Johann Hari leaves The Independent". The Independent. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Hari, Johann. "A simple lesson on schools: Money works". Retrieved 11 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "About Johann – Johann Hari". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Spanner, Huw (November 2004). "Let The Fiery Columns Glow". Third Way Magazine. pp. 16–19. 
  8. ^ Dale, Iain; Brivati, Brian (27 September 2009). "Top 100 most influential Left-wingers: 100-51". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Hari, Johann (20 January 2012). "Update". Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Steerpike (5 September 2014). "Russell Brand and Johann Hari – the revolutionary dream team". The Spectator (blog) (London). Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Hari, Johann (13 August 2007). "We should all be at Heathrow protesting". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Hari, Johann (15 April 2011). "This royal frenzy should embarrass us all". The Independent. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  13. ^ Hari, Johann (11 June 2010). "Accept the facts – and end this futile 'war on drugs'". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Hari, Johann (21 October 2008). "The Strange, Strange Story of the Gay Fascists". The Huffington Post. "The IoS Pink List 2010". The Independent on Sunday (London). 1 August 2010.
  15. ^ Hari, Johann (28 December 2004). "Why is atheism failing as a popular movement?". Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Bond, Paul (22 April 2006). "A mea culpa on Iraq by pro-war journalist Johann Hari". World Socialist Website. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  17. ^ Hari, Johann (3 December 2002). "The mother of all package tours". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Hari, Johann (26 March 2003). "Sometimes, the only way to spread peace is at the barrel of a gun". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Hari, Johann (20 March 2006). "I was wrong, terribly wrong – and the evidence should have been clear all along". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Chivers, Tom (19 September 2011). "We Lefties shouldn't be so quick to forgive Johann Hari". The Daily Telegraph blog. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  21. ^ a b Seymour, Richard (16 September 2011). "The Johann Hari debacle". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Allen Green, David (15 September 2011). "The tale of Mr Hari and Dr Rose". New Statesman. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  23. ^ Thompson, Damian (30 June 2011). "Johann Hari: the back story". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  24. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (28 June 2011). "Johann Hari denies accusations of plagiarism". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  25. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (29 June 2011). "Johann Hari and the tyranny of the 'good lie'". The Telegraph blog. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  26. ^ Flock, Elizabeth (28 June 2011). "Johann Hari denies he plagiarized, sparking mockery campaign". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  27. ^ Hari, Johann. "Interview etiquette". Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  28. ^ Hari, Johann. "My response to yesterday's allegations". Johann Hari. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  29. ^ Hari, Johann (29 June 2011). "Johann Hari: My journalism is at the centre of a storm. This is what I have learned". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  30. ^ Banks, David (28 June 2011). "Independent writer's admission highlights news copyright issues". Guardian Media Blog. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  31. ^ Preston, Peter (3 July 2011). "Johann Hari's anonymous attackers have spun foolishness into dishonesty". The Observer (London). Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (28 June 2011). "Independent editor joins Johann Hari row on Twitter". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  33. ^ McAthy, Rachel (12 July 2011). "Orwell Prize Council begins investigation into Johann Hari|Johann Hari suspended for two months pending investigation". Mousetrap Media. 
  34. ^ Deans, Jason (13 July 2011). "Journalist suspended over plagiarism row". The Guardian. p. 10. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  35. ^ Hari, Johann (24 September 2010). "Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  36. ^ Whelan, Brian (27 June 2011). "Is Johann Hari a copy-pasting churnalist?". Brian Whelan. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  37. ^ Hari, Johann (16 May 2006). "An audience with Chavez, the man with the most powerful enemies in the world". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  38. ^ Walters, Guy (29 June 2011). "Just before you accept Johann Hari's apology ....". New Statesman (London). Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  39. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (29 June 2011). "Johann Hari faces fresh plagiarism allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  40. ^ Hari, Johann (28 July 2009). "Malalai Joya: The woman who will not be silenced". The Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  41. ^ Hari, Johann. "Ann Leslie – Part One". Johann Hari. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  42. ^ Hari, Johann (9 December 2005). "George Michael: Talk without prejudice". The Independent. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  43. ^ Hari, Johann (30 January 2010). "Gareth Thomas on the joy of coming out". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  44. ^ Dowell, Ben (1 July 2011). "Johann Hari: more plagiarism allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  45. ^ Duns, Jeremy (4 July 2011). "How Johann Hari plagiarized the Daily Mail". Jeremy Duns. 
  46. ^ Duns, Jeremy (15 September 2011). "Johann Hari’s latest apology: some thoughts". Jeremy Duns. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  47. ^ Whelan, Brian (29 June 2011). "Time to come clean Johann Hari". Brian Whelan. 
  48. ^ "Media Standards Trust response to Johann Hari allegations" (Press release). Media Standards Trust. 28 June 2011. 
  49. ^ "Johann Hari". Intelligence Squared. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  50. ^ Gunter, Joel (30 June 2011). "Orwell Prize Council begins investigation into Johann Hari". (Mousetrap Media). 
  51. ^ a b Pugh, Andrew (25 July 2011)."Announcement on Hari's Orwell Prize decision delayed". Press Gazette (London).
  52. ^ Thompson, Damian (20 July 2011). "Johann Hari 'invented quotes' in report from Central African Republic, says charity that took him there". The Daily Telegraph blog. 
  53. ^ Thompson, Damian (27 July 2011). "Johann Hari in Africa: the crucial emails". The Daily Telegraph blog.
  54. ^ Pareene, Alex (27 July 2011). "Johann Hari suddenly in much more trouble". Salon. 
  55. ^ a b c Hari, Johann (14 September 2011). "A personal apology". The Independent.
  56. ^ "Press Statement: The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2008" (Press release). The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  57. ^ "The Orwell Prize and Johann Hari" (Press release). Orwell Prize Council. 29 September 2011. 
  58. ^ Allen Green, David (9 July 2011). "Who is David Rose?". Jack of Kent blog. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  59. ^ a b Cohen, Nick (9 July 2011). "Diary". The Spectator (London). Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  60. ^ Odone, Cristina Odone (11 July 2011). "I fell out with Johann Hari – then 'David Rose' started tampering viciously with my Wikipedia entry". The Daily Telegraph blog. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  61. ^ Thompson, Damian (11 July 2011). "The scandal that will not go away". The Daily Telegraph blog. 
  62. ^ Green, David Allan (15 September 2011). "The tale of Mr Hari and Dr Rose". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  63. ^ a b Milmo, Cahal (14 September 2011)."Independent columnist apologises for plagiarism". The Independent.
  64. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (10 January 2012)."Independent editor: Johann Hari scandal 'severely damaged' paper". The Guardian.
  65. ^ Hari, Johann (20 January 2012). "Update". Johann Hari. 
  66. ^ Urquhart, Conal (20 January 2012)."Johann Hari quits the Independent after plagiarism storm". The Guarian.
  67. ^ Odone, Christina (15 September 2011). "Johann Hari hounded me for years: all he gets is four months' unpaid holiday from the Independent. But the truth will come out". Daily Telegraph blog.
  68. ^ Young, Toby (19 September 2011). "Fisking Johann Hari's 'apology' in today's Independent". The Daily Telegraph blog.
  69. ^ "Unethical Journalism: The Depressing Tale of Johann Hari"
  70. ^ "AIUK Media Awards: Winners and Nominees 2010". Amnesty International UK. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  71. ^ "Johann Hari picks up Martha Gellhorn Prize". Press Gazette blog (London). 24 May 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  72. ^ "Independent journalist wins Stonewall award". The Independent (London). 7 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2009. 
  73. ^ Award Categories – the Comment Awards[dead link]
  74. ^ "Winners announced for Environmental Press Awards". Press Gazette (London). 26 November 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  75. ^ a b "Johann Hari". BBC News. 5 May 2006. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  76. ^ Morris, Sally (15 June 2000). "Future Perfect". The Times (London). 

External links[edit]