Johann Hari will not return to The Independent - Press Gazette

Johann Hari will not return to The Independent

Johann Hari, the Independent writer exposed for plagiarism, has declined an offer to return to work at the paper.

Hari announced he would not return to work for the newspaper because he did not want others to “take the flak” for his actions.

Last week, Chris Blackhurst, editor of the Independent, told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that Hari would restart his column in the newspaper following four months’ unpaid leave.

But Hari said on his website that he would not take up the offer and planned to write a book.

“I’d like to thank the Independent for the privilege of working for them over the past nine years, and for offering me my job back, starting in a few weeks,” he said. “But after nearly six months living in New York City, and plenty of time to reflect, I’ve decided to not take them up on their kind offer.

“There are two reasons. I’m willing to take the flack for my errors myself: when you screw up, you should pay a price. But I’m not willing to see other people, who are played no part in those errors and are unimpeachably decent people, take the flack too. It’s not fair on them. The Independent has been great to me, and we need its principles in the public arena without distractions.

“Secondly, while doing some journalistic retraining in the US, I’ve started working on a book on a subject I believe is important and requires urgent action. To be done properly it needs international travel and the kind of in depth focus that’s not possible when you are writing a heavily researched column at the same time. So, while I’ll be writing occasional articles elsewhere, I’ll be mainly delving deeply into this one subject for now.

“Above all else, I’d like to thank all the readers of the Independent. Ever since I started as a columnist as a 23 year old I have learned so much from you. I often learned the most from the more critical messages – you have talked me out of a dozen positions – but your supportive letters and emails since last July have hugely moved me.

“I’ll continue to be a loyal reader and supporter of the Independent. It is one of the world’s great newspapers, and I feel privileged to have been part of it all these years.”

The reporter, who left Cambridge in 2001, became a staff columnist on The Independent in 2002.

He was accused of plagiarism last year after it was revealed he had taken quotes from books and interviews written by other journalists without attributing the source of the material.

Chris Blackhurst, the editor of the Independent, said on Friday: “Johann Hari has informed me that he has decided to leave the Independent to pursue his book project. We thank him for his hard work and his contribution to the papers, and wish him every success for the future.”