UK Politics

David Rose by any other name

Alan’s right. No-one is forced to read the Indy (except maybe in those black prisons run by the CIA), so let them employ, re-employ, provide second and third chances to whomsoever they want. But some quick observations on this case:

1 – Hari continues to do a good impression of a miscreant who believes his gravest error of judgment was allowing himself to be caught. The insincerity drips from every sentence.

The minimisation: “I did two things wrong”, not what you expect to read from someone who took the name of a former university acquaintance and working Times journalist to make 890 favourable (to friends) and critical/defamatory (to enemies) Wikipedia edits and admits varying degrees of plagiarism (even if he calls it something else) in multiple pieces of his work with question marks hanging over many more. If we ever discover Hitler’s diaries, maybe they will say: “I did two things wrong: I invaded Poland and created the Holocaust”.

The special pleading: “I rose fast in journalism straight from university”, as if stealing the work of other journalists and the premeditated deception of your readers is something you only discover is wrong on a NUJ course.

The mealy-mouthed equivocation: the repeated claim that making shit up was, in his case, borne of a desire to accurately reflect the thoughts of his interview subjects rather than evidence of a journalist too lazy and unskilled to provide a truthful account that readers would be enticed to read.

I could go on. No really, I could.

2 – The Indy asked the Orwell Prize council to hold the findings of their investigation into Hari’s winning 2008 Orwell Prize submissions in abeyance whilst the Indy conducted its own 2 month enquiry and Hari was given an opportunity to offer evidence in his defence. Firstly, what a fucking cheek. Secondly, assuming the OP council were satisfied they’d investigated thoroughly, why did they not tell the Indy to take a running jump? Thirdly, how can the Indy now justify keeping the report of their investigation into Hari secret given it was used as a reason to forestall the publication of the OP council’s own findings?

The Indy’s claim that this is an internal HR issue and Hari is entitled to confidentiality is beyond risible. Hari was and probably remains the Indy’s biggest draw. The public whose money the Indy took have a right to know the extent to which they were duped. Moreover, we have a right to know the extent to which the Indy management – and former editor Simon Kelner in particular – were complicit by dint of their lack of oversight and/or unwillingness to take seriously the numerous complaints and allegations against Hari that have surfaced almost since he typed his first word for the paper. Kelner was always contemptuous of Hari’s critics, believing the rumours were the work of a scurrilous right unable to stomach the brilliance of his bright young protégé. Until Andreas Whittam Smith’s report is made public, the suspicion will remain that this internal investigation was an exercise in damage limitation and not much more.

3 – The Orwell Prize council now need to reveal the findings of their own investigation and tell us what the decision of the council was back in July. We suspect the intention was to rescind the 2008 prize awarded to Hari, in which case Hari’s ‘voluntary’ return of the prize is the empty gesture we suspected it was. And if Hari does indeed stand by the stories that won him that prize, why is he returning it at all? The OP council investigation was initiated specifically to examine Hari’s 2008 submissions and not his work as a journalist generally, and if the suspicions are correct that the prize was to be rescinded then they have arrived at a conclusion about those submissions that is irreconcilable with Hari’s continued defence of them.

4 – We once wrote on this blog that Hari needed to be careful about acquiring a reputation as a journalist who makes things up. He came knocking with the Indy legal team and threatened us with a libel suit. At the time, even some of our most ardent critics thought this regrettable and said so. We know now that Hari was prepared to sue former friends and colleagues for warning that he risked developing a reputation that was, in fact, well deserved. More to the point, he knew it was well deserved at the time of issuing his threats.

It strikes me that there is at least one additional apology that Hari – and the Independent – have yet to make.