Johann Hari to pay back Orwell Prize £2,000

The organisers of a prize won by disgraced journalist Johann Hari said today that he has offered to repay the £2,000 awarded to him.

Hari returned the Orwell Prize for political writing, which he won in 2008, following an investigation into plagiarism but initially kept the prize money. The organisers have now asked him to donate it to charity.

The writer – who also admitted attacking critics online under a pseudonym – is on four months unpaid leave from The Independent and will take a journalism course, including “ethics”.

But he is expected to keep his job on the newspaper and will pay for the course himself.

A statement from the prize organisers yesterday said Hari had “offered to repay the prize money”.

It went on: “Political Quarterly, one of the partners in running the prize and the partner responsible for paying the prize money that year, has decided not to pursue the prize money, but has instead invited Hari to make an appropriate donation to English Pen, of which George Orwell was a member.”

The charity works “to promote literature and human rights”.

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