Johann Hari claims to hate the Daily Mail. . .

. . .but not enough not to borrow from it.

Over the weekend, I read the defences made by Peter Preston and Mark Lawson for Johann Hari's plagiarism - for that is what it is. Mr Preston believes that Mr Hari's practice of inserting his interviewees' words from other sources into his interviews was merely "an occasional habit", and Mr Lawson appears to think that Mr Hari was merely "searching for the earlier existence in print of words included in an interview". If only both men were right, but sadly they are not. Instead, they merely dismissed the charges as being the dumb products of anonymous name-callers on Twitter.

Had Messrs Lawson and Preston examined exactly what was going on, they would have seen that many of those commenting were hardly anonymous, and the points they made were thoughtful and valid. (Funny how the likes of Preston and Lawson doubtless celebrate people power and the vox populi in, say, Egypt, but not in this country.) Far from being an "occasional habit" of "cleaning up", Mr Hari is a serial plagiarist, and he does not deserve their misplaced sympathies.

Last week, I showed you how Mr Hari appeared to have lifted 42 quotes from Malalai Joya's memoir for his supposed interview with her. What follows is another interview by Johann Hari that features a number of quotes lifted from another source. This one is a good 'un, because the interviewee is none other than Ann Leslie of the Daily Mail - a newspaper that Mr Hari states is "the enemy of everything - literally everything - I believe." It would appear that Mr Hari's hatred for the Daily Mail does not make him averse to lifting several hundred words for his Ann Leslie interview from a piece that appeared in August 1997 in the, er, Daily Mail.

This was an enormous piece - some 4000 words - and the beginning largely dealt with Ann Leslie's traumatic childhood in India. Readers of the Independent in 2004 would have been impressed by the revelations that Hari appeared to have elicited from Dame Ann. Of course, had they known that much of what they were reading had appeared in the Daily Mail some seven years before, they might have been less than impressed.

Here then, are the offending passages, as identified by the excellent Jeremy Duns:

Ann Leslie's article in the Daily Mail, 1997:

He was my father's bearer, valet, and a man whom I loved more than anyone else after my father. He'd been my father's bearer even before my parents' marriage; taciturn, speaking little English, illiterate, but deeply noble, with the hawk-like face of a man from the legendary North-West Frontier, he and his family - had moved with us all over India and, much later, Pakistan.

Whenever I cut my knee, I ran to Yah Mohammed. When a deadly snake, a black krait, slithered into my nursery and my ayah (Indian nanny) ran screaming from the room, her ankle bracelets chattering in panic, it was Yah Mohammed who calmly killed the krait.

Yah Mohammed was always there if I was lonely, frightened, or leaving home again, for yet another distant boarding school.

And it was Yah Mohammed, I later learned, who had rescued me from a friend's garden during what became known as The Great Calcutta Killing, in 1946. The city was burning as Moslems and Hindus slaughtered each other: Yah Mohammed, at great risk to himself, climbed over garden walls and hurried down alleys, carrying the little white missy baba to safety on his spindly back. He was, of course, a Moslem.

Johann Hari's interview with Ann Leslie in the Independent in 2004:

Yet it is not her father who dominates her memories of that time. It is a man called Yah Mohammed, "a man I loved with almost unbearable intensity." He was her father's bearer and servant, "taciturn, speaking little English, illiterate, but deeply noble, with the hawk-like face of a man from the legendary North-West Frontier." Yah and his family moved with the Leslie family all over India and, later, Pakistan.

"Whenever I cut my knee, I ran to Yah Mohammed. When a deadly snake, a black krait, slithered into my nursery and my ayah [Indian nanny] ran screaming from the room, her ankle bracelets chattering in panic, it was Yah Mohammed who calmly killed the krait," she explains. "Yah Mohammed was always there if I was lonely, frightened, or leaving home again, for yet another distant boarding school. And he was the one, I learned years later, who had rescued me from a friend's garden during what became known as The Great Calcutta Killing, in 1946. The city was burning as Moslems and Hindus slaughtered each other: Yah Mohammed, at great risk to himself, climbed over garden walls and hurried down alleys, carrying the little white missy baba to safety on his spindly back."

Ann Leslie's article in the Daily Mail, 1997:

Even after all these years, I still feel an almost tearful relief that Yah Mohammed was not with us on that particular killing train.

Johann Hari's interview with Ann Leslie in the Independent, 2004:

Even now, her eyes turn watery when she explains how relieved she was that Yah Mohammed was not with her "on that train."

Ann Leslie's article in the Daily Mail, 1997:

The long Indian train clattered and screeched to a halt somewhere in the middle of nowhere. A sudden silence.

And then the screams. My mother clutched me to her, covered my eyes, told me not to be scared, there was nothing to worry about.

And there wasn't: not for us, at least.

Not for a freckled British memsahib and her missy baba, her equally freckled little daughter, sitting alone in the shabby first-class compartment of what was to become one of the 'killing trains' in the world's largest post-war holocaust.

Johann Hari's interview with Ann Leslie in the Independent, 2004:

She draws unusually heavily on her ominpresent cigarette now. She was sitting on a train in her teens and "the long Indian train clattered and screeched to a halt somewhere in the middle of nowhere. A sudden silence. And then I heard the screams. My mother clutched me to her, covered my eyes, told me not to be scared, there was nothing to worry about. And there wasn't: not for us, at least. Not for a freckled British memsahib and her missy baba, her equally freckled little daughter, sitting alone in the shabby first-class compartment of what was to become one of the 'killing trains' in the world's largest post-war holocaust."

Ann Leslie's article in the Daily Mail, 1997:

Why weren't my mother and I killed that dreadful summer afternoon? Because we, the so-called 'colonial oppressors', simply didn't matter any more. We were assumed to be leaving anyway. In fact, we were always treated with extraordinary courtesy, even generosity. We did not need to be ethnically cleansed.

So we were not the targets of the Sikh jathas - armed bands - who'd ambushed the train. Their targets were Moslems.

Many years later, when dim memories of horror and fear surfaced in me about 'something horrible happening on a train', my mother told me how, when the train moved again, it was full of blood and bodies, men, women and children, with their throats slit.

Further bodies lay strewn in the bloody dust alongside the track.

Johann Hari's interview with Ann Leslie in the Independent, 2004:

She and her mother survived "because we simply didn't matter any more. The British were assumed to be leaving anyway. In fact, we were always treated with extraordinary courtesy, even generosity. We did not need to be ethnically cleansed. So we were not the targets of the Sikh jathas [armed bands] who'd ambushed the train. Their targets were Moslems. Many years later, when dim memories of horror and fear surfaced in me about 'something horrible happening on a train', my mother told me how, when the train moved again, it was full of blood and bodies, men, women and children, with their throats slit. Further bodies lay strewn in the bloody dust alongside the track.

At this point, I can do no better (ironically enough) than quote Jeremy Duns:

Perhaps bored of copying and pasting so much text, or aware that Leslie was appearing almost too articulate in her cigarette-strewn 'quotes', Hari briefly almost abandoned the pretence, first quoting the same article but mentioning that Leslie had written the passage in question rather than having told it to him, and then going on to claim that she parroted parts of this nearly seven-year-old article back at him, 'quoting her piece almost verbatim'. That seems unlikely, putting it mildly.

Ann Leslie's article in the Daily Mail, 1997:

My own Indian idyll came to an end four years after Independence because of a panther and a rabid dog. The panther had streaked out of the mossy woods where I was taking a friend's small Maltese terrier for a walk.

The terrier's lead was dragged from my hand, his little body was never found, and I suddenly felt a terrible sense of foreboding. Not about the panther. Panthers were always eating assorted Fluffs, Fidos and Freddies, the pedigree dogs so beloved by Ooty's British memsahibs, and we all had to be very stiff-upper-lipped about these tiny tragedies.

But I'd recently been bitten by a pariah dog in Charing Cross, the centre of Ooty (and had to endure three weeks of agonising anti-rabies injections.
And I knew that the hungry panther and the rabid dog meant that I would probably now be sent 'Home' - as the British in India always called England - never to live in India again, never to smell woodsmoke in the night villages, never to play with my pet mongoose, never to see the pale gold dust at twilight.

Never to sneak into the servants' compound (forbidden to the chota-sahibs, the missy-babas, the sons and daughter of the Raj) and roast cashew-nuts with them in the courtyard fires. And never to see my parents again except for once a year at most.

Johann Hari's interview with Ann Leslie in the Independent, 2004:

But the greatest betrayal came when her mother sent her away from her beloved India altogether. "My Indian idyll came to an end four years after Independence because of a panther and a rabid dog," she wrote years later. "The panther had streaked out of the woods where I was taking a friend's small Maltese terrier for a walk. The terrier's lead was dragged from my hand. His little body was never found, and I suddenly felt a terrible sense of foreboding. Not about the panther. Panthers were always eating assorted Fluffs, Fidos and Freddies, the pedigree dogs so beloved by British memsahibs, and we all had to be very stiff-upper-lipped about these tiny tragedies. But I'd recently been bitten by a pariah dog in Charing Cross, near my boarding school, and had to endure three weeks of agonising anti-rabies injections. And I knew that the hungry panther and the rabid dog meant that I would probably now be sent 'Home' - as the British in India always called England - never to live in India again, never to smell woodsmoke in the night villages, never to play with my pet mongoose, never to see the pale gold dust at twilight. Never to sneak into the servants' compound (forbidden to the chota-sahibs, the missy-babas, the sons and daughter of the Raj) and roast cashew-nuts with them in the courtyard fires. And never to see my parents again except for once a year at most."

Ann Leslie's article in the Daily Mail, 1997:

But those schools were in India: now I was going 'Home' into exile. And my heart broke. As it broke for so many who earlier had to leave India, and who never felt truly at home anywhere else again...

Almost a billion Indians call their land 'Mother India'. As I, in exile, also do.

Johann Hari's interview with Ann Leslie in the Independent, 2004:

She looks at me, quoting her piece almost verbatim. "Now I was going 'Home' into exile. And my heart broke. As it broke for so many who earlier had to leave India, and who never felt truly at home anywhere else again. Almost a billion Indians call their land 'Mother India'. As I, in exile, also do.

Jeremy tells me that Mr Hari has used 772 words from Dame Ann's piece, of which 227 he acknowledged had been written before - although, funnily enough, Mr Hari neglected to mention they came from the Daily Mail. As Jeremy says, this is "remarkably brazen considering he plagiarised a further 545 words from the same article".

I do hope Peter Preston and Mark Lawson read this, and if they do, I would ask them these questions: Is this occasional? And is this merely clearing up words already said to the interviewer? If it is not that, then what is it? Remember, it is the readers who are being deceived, and you have to think of them first. Can anything Mr Hari ever write again ever be truly trusted?

(Hat-tip: I was alerted to this piece by Matthew Turner on Twitter (@mjturner1975) to whom I am very grateful.)

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