Tennis

Neil Harman admits to plagiarism in Wimbledon annual

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Harman was well respected by professionals on the tour (©GettyImages)
Harman was well respected by professionals on the tour (©GettyImages).

Neil Harman, tennis correspondent for the Times, has resigned from his position on the International Tennis Writers Association, after admitting to plagiarising material when writing the official Wimbledon annual.

It was first reported that Harman had plagiarised material by Private Eye (the article is not currently online), who claimed that he had lifted copy from a number of other journalists in the 2013 book, and it was removed from bookshelves at Wimbledon by the end of the tournament.

Officials at SW19 called a meeting with Harman in spring earlier this year, where they questioned him on accusations that he had not attributed material taken from other writers in the 2013 edition.

Resignation

Harman then admitted to the offence, and later wrote a letter to the ITWA to offer his resignation.

He wrote: "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.”

Examples of this were the copying of an article written by John Wertheim, a writer for Sports Illustrated, about a women’s singles quarter-final match between Marion Bartoli and Sloane Stephens, which read almost exactly the same.

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The 57-year-old journalist has written the annual about the grass court Grand Slam since 2004, and it is believed that he has plagiarised material in more than just the 2013 edition.

Further investigation

A further investigation by Ben Rothenberg for Slate Magazine claims that the 2011 and 2012 editions were also heavily plagiarised, and Rothenberg believes that there are at least 52 examples of lifted copy in the past three editions, with 28 being from the Guardian, while also claiming that there were two cases where Harman plagiarised his own work.

Another example was another almost word-for-word copying of a report by the Guardian’s Barney Ronay on Sergiy Stakhovsky’s shock second round win over Roger Federer at last year’s tournament.

Stakhovsky tweeted his support for Harman, who is well respected by a number of professionals on the tour.

The Ukrainian tweeted: “Well I challenge all of you to write a story which was never written before..regarding tournament with 125y(year) history.”

The All England Club did not assign Harman to write the 2014 edition, though they continued to sell his previous edition during this year’s tournament, despite already being aware of the situation.

He remained welcome this year, as he was still given press accreditation to the tournament and was invited to the champions dinner, which is an exclusive event, while he also wrote an article about then defending champion Andy Murray for the official tournament programme.

Harman took over as chief tennis correspondent for the Times in 2002, after previously working as chief football correspondent for the Daily Mail.

The Times are yet to make a public comment on the situation, and it is unclear whether Harman will remain in his position with the newspaper.

Topics:
Tennis
Wimbledon
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