Prominent British tennis reporter admits to plagiarism


(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Neil Harman, a respected and prominent tennis writer for the Times of London, has admitted to plagiarism.

In a letter sent to the International Tennis Writers Association published Wednesday on The Changeover, Harman wrote that he has resigned from the association and admitted to plagiarizing material for the official Wimbledon yearbook, which he had written for since 2004.

It has been brought to my attention that I have severely compromised my position as a member, having used unattributed material to form part of my writing of the Wimbledon Yearbook. There can be no excuse for such shoddy work, which I deeply regret. I did it without malice aforethought, but that I did it at all is simply inexcusable.

According to an exposé published in Slate by Ben Rothenberg, Wimbledon employees learned months before this year’s tournament began that Harman had plagiarized large chunks of the 2013 edition. However, Harman, who did not write the 2014 edition, was still able to keep his media credential and was invited to attend the tournament’s Champions’ dinner.

Rothenberg, a contributing tennis writer for the New York Times, found that there have been 52 examples of obvious plagiarism in Harman’s last three Wimbledon yearbooks.

Of these 52 examples, 28 of the passages were lifted from the Guardian. Six were from the New York Times, five from either the Times of London or the Sunday Times, four from Sports Illustrated, four from the Telegraph, four from theIndependent, and one from the New York Daily News. In two additional cases, Harman borrowed from his own previously published work. I didn’t count these among his 52 instances of plagiarism.

One of the passages was lifted nearly word-for-word from Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim, who according to Rothenberg, confronted Harman at the All England Club this summer. Harman told Rothenberg that his actions can be partially explained because of the short time frame he was given to complete the yearbook.

When I spoke with Neil he was thoroughly contrite and offered no mitigating explanation other than to express that it was an error born of haste and carelessness,” Wertheim wrote in an email to Rothenberg. “The lawyer in me had prepared for cross-examination. (Why then were there numerous instances of plagiarism? If this has simply been cutting and pasting and then neglecting attribution, why had passages been changed ever so slightly?) But I accepted his apology.”

As of Wednesday night, Harman was still publishing articles for the Times. His article on Andy Murray and Amelie Mauresmo was the feature story on the sports section online.

The following is his bio on its Web site:

Neil Harman was appointed as Tennis Correspondent of The Times in March, 2002. He was the first tennis writer to win the SJA Sports Reporter of the Year award in 2007 and was the recipient of the ATP Ron Bookman Award for Media Excellence in 2005. He wrote David Beckham – My Story in 1998 and has written the Wimbledon Championships Yearbook since 2004.

Harman also addressed the issue on Twitter, where some replied to him with shock but most offered support.

However, other people on Twitter weren’t quite as quick to forgive.

(H/T Deadspin)

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