Johann Hari was due to return to the Independent in a few weeks time, but has decided to instead focus on a new book
The former interviewer and columnist for the Independent Johann Hari, who was suspended from the title last year amid allegations of plagiarism, has said he will not return to the newspaper as planned.
In an apology published in September last year Hari admitted to "two wrong and stupid things", in reference to the revelation that he had been inserting quotes in some of his work which had not been given to him directly but were taken from elsewhere, and, secondly, that he had been editing Wikipedia entries under a different username, at times in a "juvenile or malicious" way.
Appearing before the Leveson inquiry earlier this month, editor of the Independent Chris Blackhurst revealed that Hari was due to return to the title in "four or five weeks".
But in a post on his website published late on Friday, Hari said he had decided not to return to the newspaper, firstly, "to take the flack for my errors myself" and, secondly, to work on a book he has started.
"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."
Blackhurst had told the Leveson inquiry earlier this year that an internal investigation found it was not "sufficient for [Hari] to lose his job" over the matter. Hari had, according to Blackhurst, spent four months without pay and undergone ethics training in New York.
Had he returned to the newspaper he would not have been carrying out interviews and "everything he writes will be heavily looked at", Blackhurst had said.
Following Hari's announcement on Friday, Blackhurst said in a widely reported statement that the company offers him thanks "for his hard work and his contribution to the papers" and wishes him "every success for the future".
Hari added in his website update that his new book is "on a subject I believe is important and requires urgent action" and that "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".
He also made a final statement of thanks to the newspaper's readers.
"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."
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