Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari


11:47 am - July 27th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Interns who worked at an NGO and accompanied Johann Hari to the Central African Republic in 2007 dispute allegations made against him in Private Eye, the Times and the Telegraph.

The incident is central to the furore over the Orwell Prize award made to the Independent columnist in 2008. A letter has been sent by the two researchers to media outlets that reported on the incident.

Due to the sensitive nature of the work, neither Private Eye nor the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson named the charity. For similar reasons I won’t name the authors of the letter as it would identify the charity.

Private Eye reported:

Hari did not hire a translator, instead browbeating a charity worker into translating for him. He promised to give her his notes when they returned so she could file her own report on the war, and then broke his word. He continued to hold on to the notes even after she complained to Simon Kelner, the Independent’s editor. “The reason for this became clear when his article came out, as most of the content differed from what interviewees told us,” the aid worker told us.

Hari “completely exaggerated the extent of destruction in Birao”. He “completely invented quotes, in particular those of the French soldiers”. In one gruesome vignette, Hari had French soldiers telling a piteous story of how “children would bring us the severed heads of their parents and scream for help, but our orders were not to help them”. “They did not say this. I know because I was there and I did the translating for them.”

But the story is based on one source who apparently had a big falling out with Johann Hari over political issues.

A copy of the letter disputing the allegations made by Private Eye, and repeated by the Telegraph, has been passed on to this blog.

The letter states, in full:

Sir,

Your article ‘Orwellian Nightmare’ includes a number of inaccuracies regarding the actions of Johann Hari during a research trip to the Central African Republic in 2007. As we were present during the trip we know these allegations to be untrue.

Firstly, it is alleged in your article that a key quote from a French soldier that was reported by Johann was fabricated. Our recollection, expressed in an email to our colleague under two months after the trip, is that it was accurate. Johann specifically checked the accuracy of this quote with us after drafting his article.

Secondly, it is alleged that Johann exaggerated the extent of the destruction in Birao. 4 months before our arrival in Birao 70% of homes were burned during fighting. Although some reconstruction had taken place by the time we arrived we can confirm that the town was still in a shocking state whilst we were there, and a large proportion of the nearly 14,000 who had fled the fighting had not yet returned. Our photos taken during the trip confirm the terrible state the town was in. We do not believe that the destruction in Birao was exaggerated.

Finally, based on our collective memory of the trip, we do not believe that it is accurate to say that Johann was guilty of ‘browbeating a charity worker’. It is our view that Johann had a reasonable expectation before travelling to the Central African Republic that translation services would be provided by the organisation for which your source worked at the time.

There were, unfortunately, some personal disagreements between the participants in the trip, along with disagreements about certain aspects of the conflict in the Central African Republic. This may have contributed to the nature of the account that you have been given. We are aware that the Council of the Orwell Prize are considering whether to strip Johann of his prize in part due to these allegations. It is our hope that they will consider our account of these events before doing so.

We fully respect your decision not to name your source in order to protect the charitable organisation for which they worked at the time. As our names would also link this story to that organisation we respectfully request that you do not publish them either.

Names and contact details supplied, identities verified

In a speech a few weeks ago, Johann Hari admitted making mistakes and apologised for them. He said many people who criticised him over his mistakes were right do so.

However, he disputes the version of events over the Central African Republic affair and other allegations made against him.

He has also been asked by the Independent’s new editor not to make any public comment until its inquiry has reported in September.

[If you would like to appeal to Private Eye to run a correction, email Ian Hislop on Strobes@private-eye.co.uk]

Update: With regards to this specific incident, I asked the Media Standards Trust whether the Orwell Prize judging committee had considered this letter before making a decision. This is relevant because this article was the basis of the Orwell Prize. They said they won’t be making any statement yet on the issue further to what they’ve already said.

It also considered a representation by Johann Hari in its deliberation, and appropriate weight was placed upon it. The Council of the Orwell Prize is fully satisfied that it has adopted the appropriate procedure for an exercise of this kind.

The Independent has now requested that the Council consider further representations by Johann Hari before announcing the decision. However, it would appear that Johann Hari is not permitted to make any further representations whilst The Independent’s investigation is conducted.

(Emphasis mine)

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


[deleted]

2. Suburban Tory

[deleted]

Oh grow up

The interns also contacted me, offering me the 2007 email “evidence” that is supposed to support Hari’s version of events. It is from one of the interns to the charity workers/translator and it reads:

“As I said though, I do remember a story about relatives bringing severed heads to the French soldiers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember whether the heads were brought by children or otherwise.I do definitely think that they were not talking about themselves personally, more repeating stories that they had heard from others in their unit (were they even old enough to have been in the army 13 years ago?!?)”

My new blog post carries new and damning material from the charity worker. Here is the URL:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100098789/johann-hari-in-africa-the-crucial-emails/

5. Terry Stewart

Well at least we can say this- Sunny is obviously a good and useful friend to defend Hari like this. As far as I’m concerned though there are still numerous examples outstanding of unforgivable journalistic practice going on. I don’t really perceive this to be about plagiarism- although taking the translations and interviews of fellow journalists and writers is a poor show, and not a practice deserving of such solidarity. Rather, the issues outstanding are of misrepresentation, and Hari has not addressed these in his ‘apology’. I think it’s very telling that his apology was addressed solely towards the Gideon Levy interview, where his reasoning would be valid, if flawed, but didn’t tackle at all the Antonio Negri interview, where his reasoning didn’t stand up, as the quotes were reused in an entirely different context as an attempt to smear.

Fair play to you for sticking up for your friend, Sunny, but personally I’m afraid I think it discredits you as a journalist to put loyalty over veracity. It’s more that possible to address the fact that Hari was wrong, and seriously so, whilst still admitting he’s a nice person. This wagon-circling is unbecoming of all involved and confirms many of my suspicions regarding the closed nature of the media circles. It’s certainly not a position Orwell would take.

Fair play to you for sticking up for your friend, Sunny, but personally I’m afraid I think it discredits you as a journalist to put loyalty over veracity

You may want to read the bit just after the letter is quoted.

Johann made mistakes. No one is denying that. I said it myself ages ago:
http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/13207

This is specifically about that incident and the allegations made against him by various prominent outlets regarding THAT incident.

If people care about the facts – then they should acknowledge that the incident is disputed and not as clear-cut as portrayed byy Damian Thompson and Private eye.

7. theophrastus

“If people care about the facts – then they should acknowledge that the incident is disputed and not as clear-cut as portrayed byy Damian Thompson and Private eye.”

Perhaps, Sunny. Except that you would not take that line if it was (say) Melanie Phillips or BoJo in the firing line and not Hari. So your post looks like a LibCon propaganda piece in support of an ally or friend.

8. Terry Stewart

There certainly seems to be a difference of opinion regarding the facts around this case, I do not dispute that.

People have acknowledged– and Hari has apologised for– the ‘mistake’ of plagiarism, but these mistakes are not the most damning, and the continual focus on these misses the main, very serious, allegation; that he seriously misrepresented the words of (and implied guilt towards) an elected politician who was the victim of a conspiracy by the state, and has suffered many years in prison and exile. I really think a liberal blog should be looking to defend that victim of the state, not supporting a media figure who continues to perpetrate that injustice.

My point is that, on a wider basis than just this Central African Republic issue, this is looking very much like a highly partisan position based upon friendship and political loyalty. We should be holding this sort of journalism to account, whether perpetrated by Private Eye or Johann Hari– and my personal feeling is that Hari’s a worse indiscretion, because rather than accusing someone of poor journalism, he’s accusing someone of terrorism.

Perhaps, Sunny. Except that you would not take that line if it was (say) Melanie Phillips or BoJo in the firing line and not Hari.

That’s not really an argument is it?

Terry Stewart –

Hari ‘apologised’ for a very specific, very excusable ‘offence’. In the weeks since far more has come out – evidence of *blatant* plagiarism and fabrication far beyond lifting from the writing/speaking of his interviewees. Of course, Hari and his buddies would prefer you just accept their version of what he did and think that anyone looking any further into it is some right-wing maniac with a grudge.

11. Flowerpower

If people care about the facts – then they should acknowledge that the incident is disputed and not as clear-cut as portrayed by Damian Thompson and Private eye.

Come off it Sunny! Anyone reading your OP would be left with a very distorted and unsatisfactory account, while anyone following the link to Damian Thompson’s blog would get proper context and eyewitness evidence.

You, for instance, were content to let this quote stand unchallenged:

Our recollection, expressed in an email to our colleague under two months after the trip, is that it was accurate.

Well, let’s just compare Hari’s account and that e-mail to see if the e-mail really does stand it up. First johann Hari:

I am sipping sweet tea in one of the local bigwig’s ramshackle houses when a group of local soldiers on patrol arrive. They are working-class men from the Paris and Lyons banlieues, and in the course of the small talk, they admit that they were in Rwanda – and they are still traumatised by what they were ordered to do by Mitterrand and his men. ” Children would bring us the severed heads of their parents and scream for help,” one says, “but our orders were not to help them.”

And now the supposedly supporting e-mail:

I do remember a story about relatives bringing severed heads to the French soldiers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember whether the heads were brought by children or otherwise.I do definitely think that they were not talking about themselves personally, more repeating stories that they had heard from others in their unit (were they even old enough to have been in the army 13 years ago?!?)

That does not at all attest to the accuracy of Hari’s account. It holes it below the water-line. But there’s more – from the person who actually translated for Hari:

Having translated your encounter with the french soldiers in Birao, I would like to make a correction to the quote attributed to one of the soldiers who had taken part in Amaryllis operation in Rwanda. He did mention how frustrated the soldiers felt that their orders didn’t allow them to intervene, but he did not say that the children would bring the severed heads of their parents and scream for help.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100098789/johann-hari-in-africa-the-crucial-emails/

How does it “discredit Sunny as a journalist” to address what could be factual errors in a media report?

I feel deeply for Johann Hari, actually. I think that what he did was ridiculous and I’m not saying he shouldn’t be criticised and judged. But he’s clearly an amazing person, with lots of talent, and a real passion for human decency. I can’t see his wrongdoing as any kind of “unethical” or harmful behaviour, but more a kind of embarrassing stupid mistake that I reckon a lot of people have made in their lives at some point. Except of course for those lucky critics of Hari who are apparently perfect in every aspect of their lives, but I suspect their lives are rather dull.

I hope knows – and his editor at the Indie knows – that there are definitely still a lot of people who would miss his voice in politics deeply if it were to be gone. I remember being particularly moved and pleased by his article in the Indie entitled something like “What is wrong with protecting children?” in response to the media’s nasty response to the curriculum-based approach to tackling homophobic bullying in schools.

He’s made a huge mistake, he’s apologised, he’s being punished and taking his punishment with grace. I can think of many in the media who are doing no such thing, for much worse mistakes, and yet are being defended by some of those same critics who are shouting Hari down as a disgrace and a “liar.” I find it extremely sad.

Yes, the interns dispute Damian Thompson’s account, but the charity worker has refuted this and he has now published another email sent by the charity worker at the end of his blog. It reads http://tgr.ph/oJ7bJW :

“[These two interns] were interns with [the charity] and I took them on the trip with me. They were and certainly are not in any way representatives of the organisation though.

We were facilitating Johann’s trip but were in no way there to do all of his work. Speakng French, I didn’t need a translator but suggested he get one if he wanted one. It was in no way my duty to be his translator, having my own work to do too. I translated for him, after much pressure on his part, as a favour on the condition that he would give me the notes, which he never did.

I am absolutely adamant that the soldiers didn’t say that children came brandishing the heads of their relatives. I was the only one in the group translating for [the interns] and Johann. Having lived in Rwanda as a child and having studied the Rwandan genocide as part of my masters [degree], I am particularly sensitive to information regarding Rwanda and I really would have followed up with these soldiers had they said this.

As for the extent of the destruction and population in Birao, having worked in conflict zones, I have seen towns razed during attacks and am very careful with being as exact as possible with facts. We arrived weeks after the fighting and as the figures show in our report (I attach it to this email), much of the populations had already returned to Birao. This isn’t to minimise what happened there, the fighting was terrible, but when we visited, the town wasn’t as bad as it was described.

I will forward you communication that I had with Johann in the weeks after the trip, to show how we tried to address our concerns, to little avail.

[The interns] became good friends with Johann and continued meeting up with him after the trip, as well as being friends on Facebook. Johann is a charismatic and extremely intelligent person and both were in awe of him. I can understand their wish to defend a friend. While I don’t share their personal liking for Johann, I maintained a professional working relationship with him, being used to travelling with journalists, including from the Times and the Financial Times.

I never commented publicly on Johann’s shocking comments and behaviour during the trip, and I have limited myself to addressing the inaccuracies of his reporting. I do expect professionalism and accuracy in reporting from the journalists I work with, which was absolutely not the case with Johann. The issues I raised regarding Johann in the context of the recent questioning of his work are not part of a personal vendetta against him, but are aimed at ensuring that those individuals evaluating his work have all the information needed at hand to make a balanced decision.”

“Perhaps, Sunny. Except that you would not take that line if it was (say) Melanie Phillips or BoJo in the firing line and not Hari. So your post looks like a LibCon propaganda piece in support of an ally or friend.”

Wouldn’t he? How do you know? Has this happened?

I think this blogpost was interesting and valid, and I’ve personally defended Melanie Phillips on a blogpost of my own. I don’t know how Sunny would handle a situation like that but I think there is more to this than partisanship or friendship.

To get this straight – Damian Thompson mostly published emails from the same person who made the original allegations.

It doesn’t exactly strengthen his case that this is getting worse for Johann. If DT cares so much about accuracy and journalism, he would have published the letter sent by the other two interns from the charity and let readers make up their own mind.

Except it was politically motivated hackery from the start.

It seems it’s only “politically motivated hackery” when it’s a right-wing writer criticising the work of Hari.

Hari’s critics and those who keep pursuing this come from both left and right. The only people who consistently defend him seem to be a coterie of high-profile liberals who all seem to have personal relationships with Hari.

Go figure.

(for the record, I would class myself as a socialist and I am glad someone like Thompson is pursuing this, however much I might disagree with his writing generally).

The problem is that he has been caught “making mistakes”, which is one way of putting it, and no-one is disputing that.

Unfortunately its a bit like being a bit of a virgin, you are either reliable or you are not, and if you are not then what can be depended on? This isn’t the sort of journalism on which I want to base my view of the world.

Also, the Eye piece is not just about this one case.

“But he’s clearly an amazing person, with lots of talent, and a real passion for human decency. “

When someone’s caught out using sockpuppets to slander people as antisemites and homophobes it just screams human decency.

Except it was politically motivated hackery from the start.

Not a bad summary of poor old Johann’s entire career that.

20. Flowerpower

Sunny @ 15

It doesn’t exactly strengthen his case that this is getting worse for Johann.

It does. How? By showing that the 2007 e-mail that the interns claimed supported Johann’s version (something you give the impression of still believing) actually completely trashes it.

21. PapushiSun

‘Johann made mistakes.’

I’m not sure how people can keep claiming this when it’s been shown to have been done over a long period of time. The Negri interview was done in 2004. The most recent interview he was caught out in is the Gareth Thomas one published in January of 2010. That’s a 6 year period. We’re also not talking one or two interviews but pretty much every one he’s done.

Those aren’t mistakes.

22. Mr S. Pill

@21

And don’t forget even further back in 2002 I believe, Hari claimed to have celebrated the end of university with a few lines of coke & a couple of tabs of ecstasy – except he’d never taken E and had to ring a friend to find out how it felt, according to the rumour anyway.
Hari’s journalism has always been marred by inaccuracies. He’s an excellent polemicist but I think he should stay away from reportage.

The problem is no longer one of factual accuracy, but credibility. It used to be that I took Mr Hari seriously (if regarding his thought process as a joke). Now I could not read an article by him without doubting it had any basis in fact, and this means accusations such as this are likely to stick.

Sunny may be right to defend Mr Hari on this one incident, although I would suggest that the evidence is hardly convincing that he is innocent (to be fair, the better test would be if he is guilty, which is also questionable). It is however rather an irrelevance, considering the fact that Mr Hari seems to have proveably low standards elsewhere, so even if this particular accusation is not true, the possibility of Mr Hari doing such things appears worryingly high.

Hari’s journalism has always been marred by inaccuracies. He’s an excellent polemicist but I think he should stay away from reportage.

And possibly commentary as well now – it’s going to be difficult to take him seriously without double-checking every fact, and he does not strike me as the sort of writer who is kind enough to identify his sources.

25. AnotherTom

Hari would have been fine if he had restricted himself to what he is – a strident columnist with some flair. Where he got himself in trouble is when he pretended to be a journalist, which he never really was and a craft he clearly never understood.

Personally, I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate for young writers with no journalism experience to write columns and opinion pieces for newspapers. They tend to write badly. A lot emanate from the New Statesman.

26. AnotherTom

“But the story is based on one source who apparently had a big falling out with Johann Hari over political issues.”

So says effectively a single source who had a big love-in (it says) with Hari over political issues. Hmmm. Not convinced Sunny.

Personally, I think if Hari wants to regain his credibility he has to eat humble pie and really start again. Go away for years, yes years, and learn to love the craft of journalism. Great reportage doesn’t have egos; doesn’t require winning an argument.

27. theophrastus

@14 “Wouldn’t he? How do you know? Has this happened?”

You have only to read Sunny’s disgraceful attempt to smear Melanie Phillips by association with the Norwegian deranged spree killer to get some idea of how Sunny would have reacted if Melanie Phillips or BoJo were in Hari’s position.

Sunny often misses the fact that the arguments he uses can mutatis mutandis be used against him. A very minor example is above. Sunny responds to my point @7 by saying @9 “That’s not really an argument is it?” – which is false when applied to my point @7 but true when applied to Sunny @9!

Similarly, LibCon will indulge and stimulate ‘hate-fests’ against Melanie Phillips et al, accusing them of somehow legitimising Islamophobia,the Norwegian terrorist, etc. Yet the thought never seems to occur to Sunny that in so doing LibCon is legitimising hatred of Melanie Phillips et al, and that by the same token any violence or intimidation of them could just as spuriously be laid at LibCon’s door. Like all propagandists, Sunny ignores his own inconsistencies. Sunny would do well to try to raise the quality of political debate (as in fairness many pieces he publishes do) rather than lower it.

As for Hari, tragically, success, I fear, made him arrogant. I never liked his ‘interviews’ or his woefully ignorant pieces on economics, but I did think he was worth reading on social policy. And I can sympathise with his predicament. But then righties like me think lefties are just mistaken, while lefties generally think righties are evil.

28. Chaise Guevara

@ 27

“Similarly, LibCon will indulge and stimulate ‘hate-fests’ against Melanie Phillips et al, accusing them of somehow legitimising Islamophobia,the Norwegian terrorist, etc. Yet the thought never seems to occur to Sunny that in so doing LibCon is legitimising hatred of Melanie Phillips et al, and that by the same token any violence or intimidation of them could just as spuriously be laid at LibCon’s door.”

There’s a distinction to be made between spreading truths and falsehoods, though. It would be possible to come up with a scenario in which almost any statement of fact could lead to violence, and then use that to condemn people who spread that truth (e.g. “stop telling people evolution is real! I know it’s true, but you could piss off fundamentalists and encourage terrorism!”). In a society that values free speech, I think we’d ignore this kind of argument most of the time.

The more contraversial writings of people like Phillips, meanwhile, seem to be mainly based on falsehoods (or at least major distortions of the truth) and insane troll logic. Making up politicised nonsense is always irresponsible; doing so in a way that could encourage violence just amplifies that. The same could be said of Islamic hate preachers who don’t directly call for violence but spread lies that could cause people to carry it out.

So this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a left/right distinction, it’s more a true/false distinction. When lefties make up lies to spread a cause they should be villified just as much.

Quite ironic that we’ve got onto Melanie Phillips given that Hari’s writings about Islam were often indistinguishable from hers, but were bizarrely excused on account of him being ‘one of us’.

The only people who consistently defend him seem to be a coterie of high-profile liberals who all seem to have personal relationships with Hari.

I see many of you including this person has reading comprehension problems.

No one is defending other accusations that he recycled quotes and lifted them without attribution.

This article is about a story specifically focusing on one incident.

“I see many of you including this person has reading comprehension problems.”

Any particular reason why you are always so quick to resort to insults?

I quite clearly wasn’t writing solely about this piece. Your defence of Hari has been consistent and, indeed, the piece you linked to as ‘evidence’ that you have criticised him was a rant portraying him as someone who made a minor mistake and was then set upon by a hysterial bunch of lunatics.

@27

“But then righties like me think lefties are just mistaken, while lefties generally think righties are evil.”

More likely that some lefties think some righties are evil, and equally some righties think some lefties are evil.Why you would want to leap to the defence of the likes of Melanie Phillips totally eludes me.

Surprising as it may seem to people like you with a penchant for sweeping generalisation, “most” on the left are just as capable as “most” on the right of seeing that ideological ultras on either political extreme have more in common with each other than they care to admit, and that however much I might disagree with someone on the mainstream right, I will have a lot more in common with them than with an extermist on the left.

Phillips and her ilk are now feeling the heat… perhaps a fitting price for trying to sup with the devil?

Your defence of Hari has been consistent

Oh right! I thought I’d said from the start that it was wrong of him to do that.

but maybe you know me better than I do. Do you want to take over this site and just speak for me? Might save us both some time that way?

34. Flashbuck

Let’s face it, that letter most likely came from another one of Hari’s sockpuppets.

35. AnotherTom

I read Sunny’s piece on Pickled Politics and his contribution here and there’s a kind of parallel world thinking here. It is claimed that Hari’s errors were minor and occasional when it is clear they were consistent and serious.

I mean, even I discovered one glaring Hari error back in April, and I’m just me http://www.cashandburn.com/2011/04/cranks.html

Sunny claims it is all political, but this is a bit rich when Hari’s attitude was defined by the stridency of his political attacks. Hari loved putting others to the sword, loudly and gleefully; it is hardly surprising that others will do the same.

Wow. You are one very angry man, Sunny. I’ve no interest in some tedious ego war so I’ll take my leave.

If anyon’s on twitter, the exchange between Sunny and Hopi Sen (also of this parish) on this subject makes for illuminating reading.

I see many of you…has reading comprehension problems.

Too many lolcat posts Sunny?

The very, very best that could be said of Hari, with regard to the Severed Head Affair, is that he failed miserably to check facts, and that’s hardly heaping praise on him.

The very, very best that could be said of Hari, with regard to the Severed Head Affair, is that he failed miserably to check facts, and that’s hardly heaping praise on him.

Not sure what journalistic ethics are about taking notes through a translator – do you check them with the translator (as second hand accounts can deviate unintentionally from what has been said), or just run with them?

The answer to that might give us an indication of whether Mr Hari was in the wrong or just seemingly slightly garbelled information.

Not sure what journalistic ethics are about taking notes through a translator – do you check them with the translator (as second hand accounts can deviate unintentionally from what has been said), or just run with them?

If you were being scrupulous you’d send a copy of your notes to the translator to make sure they tallied with their recollection.

In this case Hari was apparently asked several times for a copy of his notes (as had been agreed) but never did so. He sent her a copy of the article prior to publication, at which point the translator pointed out one particular error in it (the whole severed heads thing) but was ignored.

The problem is that it’s just a great line isn’t it? And it speaks to a wider truth about the problems of non-intervention in Africa by ‘peacekeepers’ even if it wasn’t actually ‘true’ in this specific case. And anyway, it’s was done in a good cause, and he’s a nice boy. Etc.

41. Shatterface

‘The more contraversial writings of people like Phillips, meanwhile, seem to be mainly based on falsehoods (or at least major distortions of the truth) and insane troll logic. Making up politicised nonsense is always irresponsible; doing so in a way that could encourage violence just amplifies that.’

I’m not sure even Mad Mel would publish unverified stories about crying children carrying severed heads. It might be true but accounts from soldiers who heards stuff from other soldiers aren’t especially reliable, especially if they are eager to intervene on the local situation (however justifiably).

And this is no less ‘politicised’ than the paranoid fantasies of Phillips.

42. Chaise Guevara

@ 41 Shatterface

“And this is no less ‘politicised’ than the paranoid fantasies of Phillips.”

Not arguing with that, and not defending Hari if he made that stuff up. I wasn’t even talking about Hari actually: the point is that you could claim almost any statement of political fact or opinion could somehow inspire violence or have other negative consequences, but that doesn’t make all political statements equally irresponsible as making up things about demographic groups to turn them into figures of hate.

The problem is that it’s just a great line isn’t it? And it speaks to a wider truth about the problems of non-intervention in Africa by ‘peacekeepers’ even if it wasn’t actually ‘true’ in this specific case. And anyway, it’s was done in a good cause, and he’s a nice boy. Etc.

Why be surprised that Sunny is acting like this? His cynical promotion of spin around the Ken Clarke rape gaffe indicated he thinks exactly the same way as Hari. Not to mention the consistent and conscious distortions he practices so often in his editing of guest posts and their choice of title.

44. theophrastus

@32:

“More likely that some lefties think some righties are evil, and equally some righties think some lefties are evil”.

Yes, some righties think some lefties are evil, and nothing I said denied that. And, yes, undoubtedly some lefties think some righties are evil, though, from the evidence available on LibCon, ISTM reasonable (rather than a “sweeping generalisation” ) to conclude that most lefties think most (if not all) righties are evil.

And, revealingly, you yourself show how deeply this Manichaean thinking permeates the left-wing outlook by accusing Melanie Phillips of “supping with the devil” in your concluding paragraph!

MP may be wrong or mistaken; but she is not evil. Can we please lower the temperature of debate around here?

45. Shatterface

‘MP may be wrong or mistaken; but she is not evil. Can we please lower the temperature of debate around here?’

I don’t think she’s evil. I do, however, think she’s mad.

‘Not arguing with that, and not defending Hari if he made that stuff up. I wasn’t even talking about Hari actually: the point is that you could claim almost any statement of political fact or opinion could somehow inspire violence or have other negative consequences, but that doesn’t make all political statements equally irresponsible as making up things about demographic groups to turn them into figures of hate.’

What’s the difference between ‘making up things about demographic groups and turning them into figures of hate’ and passing on unconfirmed and unreliable stories about African head-hunters with the intention of shaming Western governments into a military response?

Hari wasn’t innocently reporting a confirmed atrocity, he was promoting Western intervention in a foreign conflict.

Hari and Philips are BOTH willing to accept and relay lurid stories about an alien ‘other’ for the purposes of shaking the West out of presumed apathy.

46. theophrastus

@45: “I do, however, think she’s mad.”

Sure, she’s mad – if you define ‘mad’ as ‘not agreeing with Shatterface’.

47. Dan Zimmerman

It is a real shame — but nonetheless indicatory — of the type who seem only to want all manner of horrible things to befall Hari, that Tyler and Suburban Tory and their ilk should befoul this page.

LC is doing what everyone observing this story should be doing, that is looking for the whole truth not just part of it.

I will be most certainly be writing to Private Eye and contacting as many people as I can about this new mitigation. I am not only worried about Hari, but also by the state of a profession, who, when they’re not exploiting the efforts of criminals and PI’s, displays nothing less than obscene enjoyment anticipating the prospect of crushing another human being.

And yes, I’ve seen the rap sheet. But if we’re so bloody superior, then why the lynch mentality?

Dan Zimmerman:

“LC is doing what everyone observing this story should be doing, that is looking for the whole truth not just part of it. ”

I must have missed Hundal’s extensive coverage of the countless other examples of Hari’s plagiarism and fantasising. Do you have links?

You’d have to be (at best) very naive to believe that this is anything other than someone who’s found something they think can help their mate and jumping on it with glee.

@44 theophrastus

Aren’t you kinda proving my point? On the one hand you begin by saying that you accept that some righties think some lefties are evil, then you proceed (on the highly subjective basis of posts on an avowedly left of centre site like LC) to compound your original sweeping generalisation that lefties are somehow naturally more prone to this than righties.

Total bollocks of course.

As for my comment about Melanie Phillips, that doesn’t “prove” your point…. given her writings and opinions, it is perfectly defensible to see her as supping with the devil for they reasons I’ve stated. She may not herself be evil, but she is certainly pedalling ideas which encourage and give comfort to those who are. Perhaps my view of her is more along the lines of “hate the sin, not the sinner”… but that doesn’t somehow excuse her of any moral responsibility either.

50. theophrastus

G10 @49:

I suggest you compare the comments on some left-of-centre sites (LC, CiF) with some right-of-centre sites (Tim Worstall, Daily Telegraph), and I think you’ll find that hate-speech towards political opponents is far more common on the former than the latter. The left tends to be intensely moralistic, whereas the right (though not without its moralisers) tends to be more concerned with what works.

Even excluding sally, I have lost count of the times I have seen Tories described as “evil” on LC, which I find rather shocking. Even you cannot seem to avoid this Manichaean and quasi-religious terminology in your posts. Having dropped the reference to supping with the devil, you are now talking about sin and sinners!

Once you describe someone as evil, you are implicitly suggesting that they are beyond redemption, that they are beyond the pale of civilisation and ultimately that the world would be a better place if they were removed from it….Which is the assumption shared by Hitler, Stalin, Breivik…and others who believe their “evil ” opponents should be exterminated rather than debated with.

By the way, can you point me to something MP has said that is morally unacceptable?

51. Chaise Guevara

@ 45 Shatterface

“What’s the difference between ‘making up things about demographic groups and turning them into figures of hate’ and passing on unconfirmed and unreliable stories about African head-hunters with the intention of shaming Western governments into a military response?”

Um, dude, in that very post you replied to I said that not only was I not defending Hari, but that I wasn’t even talking about Hari. So why you’re demanding Hari-based answers from me I know not.

52. Chaise Guevara

@ 50

“The left tends to be intensely moralistic, whereas the right (though not without its moralisers) tends to be more concerned with what works. ”

Homophobia and xenophobia being such pragmatic concepts? What about people who oppose EU membership simply on grounds of patriotism? Or those who demand that narcotics stay illegal and minor criminals be heavily punished regardless of evidence that these policies are counterproductive?

There’s nothing especially pragmatic about the right. To make claims like that, you have to redefine “left” or “right” to mean “what I personally believe in”. There are sensible and stupid people on both sides.

53. Dan Zimmerman

@ Steve.

Yes, Steve, you did miss it. Just as you seem to have missed the sounds of the baying mob now crying for Hari’s blood, while their own hypocrisy goes unattended.

Open your eyes.

@50 theophrastus
Your contention that hate-speech towards political opponents is far more common from the left is simply your opinion. There is plenty of invective flowing in both directions, and if you can’t see that you either haven’t been looking hard enough, or are wilfully ignoring it. I refer you to Chaise’s rejoinder @52.

Perhaps you find my use of quasi-religious language objectionable, or merely over the top; I’d suggest it is pretty unexceptional use of English idiom to talk about someone “supping with the devil” in the circumstances.

Your final paragraph is simply misguided, due to your frankly rather whacky interpretation. As I stated, I didn’t say Melanie Phillips was evil. Nor do I accept the simplistic (indeed barking) analysis you provide about the slippery slope from describing someone as evil to calling for their extermination.

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite capable of believing that Breivik or any other mass murderer is evil, without it leading to me down the path to calling for my political opponents to be killed. Similarly, like most others I’m capable of holding the (in my view perfectly reasonable) view that Melanie Phillips shares a measure of culpability due to her distasteful views, and may in fact hold evil views, without being an “evil person”.

As for what Melanie Phillips content I find morally objectionable…..? That’d be most of it.

55. Dan Zimmerman

@Galen10

Your writing and your thoughts are commendable sir. Feel like helping out here? There is much ignorance there to dispel.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100098789/johann-hari-in-africa-the-crucial-emails/

I’ll take the word of the translator and NGO employee over the two *interns*, friend’s of Hari’s, who have stood up to defend him.

It’s not like he doesn’t have form by the way – a friend of mine fired him from the Cambridge University student rag for making up details and quote’s for a couple of stories. Started young did our Hari.

57. Dan Zimmerman

@Tyler

I doubt that’s true. You wouldn’t be telling porkies would you, to score a cheap point?

Interns have come forward, perhaps more will.

Don’t be so quick to ruin a man you little tyke.

@56 Tyler

I don’t particularly have a dog in this race, because I honestly don’t rate either Johann Hari or (still less) Damian Thomson….. but given the patchy nature of the “evidence” before us, your interpreation that the translator’s word is somehow more valuable than that of the interns would seem to be based on little more than your existing ideological preference, and your anecdotal back story about Hari courtesy of a mate from uni.

Sounds about as sound a basis for a judgement as the word of either Johann or Damian…?

@55 Dan

Thanks for the kind words; two problems… I don’t want to give either of them the oxygen of oxygen, never mind the oxygen of publicity (due apologies to Linda Smith), and more importantly…. it the Telegraph FFS!

60. Dan Zimmerman

@Galen10

Understood. You have a way of cutting through the irrationale thus I thought I’d ask.

And yes, the Telegraph is awful. They don’t even seem embarrassed about the fact their online rag is now run by proctor Thompson for his own personal ends.

An utter embarrassment. On a par with Tyler’s rather ‘convenient’ little recollection.

“your interpreation that the translator’s word is somehow more valuable than that of the interns would seem to be based on little more than your existing ideological preference…”

Of course. The translator was just the person who was translating the actual, er, words.

Hari was repeatedly asked for the notes, as previously agreed, and refused to provide them. Added to Hari’s now well established track record of fabrications… and you still come down on Hari’s side.

If Hari had a strong record for telling the truth, I would be more inlined to consider this a case of one person’s word against another. Unfortunately he doesn’t, as numerous sources over the years, from different angles, have testified.

Some of you will evidently keep digging yourselves into a hole on behalf of a proven deceiver. I suppose that will be some of consolation to ‘young’ Johann, maker of the occasional ‘mistake’.

but given the patchy nature of the “evidence” before us, your interpreation that the translator’s word is somehow more valuable than that of the interns would seem to be based on little more than your existing ideological preference

Hell, lets ignore the person who actually did the translating and go with those supportive interns then:

I do remember a story about relatives bringing severed heads to the French soldiers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember whether the heads were brought by children or otherwise.I do definitely think that they were not talking about themselves personally, more repeating stories that they had heard from others in their unit (were they even old enough to have been in the army 13 years ago?!?)

Oh.

@61 Lamia

Can’t you read, or are you just not paying attention?

I already stated that I don’t have an axe to grind either way; I actually don’t think it’s that important. The fact remains that you are left with the word of one translator who has obviously fallen out with Hari, and that of 2 interns who appear to remian on good terms with him. You may find the former more convincing, but the argument used above that that individual somehow “must” be more convincing because they work for an NGO and well..they’re a translator, not some little intern etc., etc… is hardly a knockout blow. By all means continue to hold to your certainty..just don’t expect everyone else to swallow them whole.

Hari can answer for himself; if he’s made errors he should admit it, as he appears to have doen at least in part. As I (also) already said, I don’t find him that impressive, but I also find the castigation somewhat overdone.

@62 tim J

I refer you to my answer to Lamia @ 63 above, who appears to have an even more slender grip on what constitutes a knock out blow than you.

64 – Maybe, but you don’t appear to have read the source material.

The fact remains that you are left with the word of one translator who has obviously fallen out with Hari, and that of 2 interns who appear to remian on good terms with him.

All of whom are agreeing on the salient point – that the French soldier did not tell Hari a story about how little kids came up to him holding their parents’ severed heads. This isn’t terribly difficult.

@65 Tim J

On the contrary, I have read the source material. (I even stooped to reading the stuff in the Torygraph until my eyeballs started to itch too much…..).

I’m quite willing to accept that Hari may have got it wrong, and then failed to correct it when prompted WRT to the incident with the severed heads, and even that he has form. No doubt we will hear more about it in due course. However, the fact remains that there are other aspects of the testimony which appear to suggest that the interns are supporting things which Hari said (e.g. the extent of the destruction).

I’m not quite sure why you are so convinced (prior to any thorough investigation and based on what seems like very partial and partisan evidence from both sides) that “your” interpretation is the right one?

Dan Zimmerman:

Well, where are the links? Let me save you the bother – there aren’t any.

I don’t see people ‘baying for blood’. I see people pursuing the truth. The only people still defending Hari’s work appear to be a) his mates or b) people who like his viewpoint and so refuse to engage in any criticism whatsoever (aside from the lip-service of ‘yes he made a mistake’). They’ve invented this bizarre narrative where nasty right-wing people have it in for Hari but, whenever one of his liberal mates pops their head up with something like this, they are ‘seeking the truth’.

It’s embarrassing, frankly. As is using arguments like “while their own hypocrisy goes unattended”. Hari’s been caught out going against the fundamental principles of his job. I suppose if people were pursuing a doctor who lied about having been to medical school, you would self-righteously declare that they should tackle their own faults first? No, didn’t think so.

I’m not quite sure why you are so convinced (prior to any thorough investigation and based on what seems like very partial and partisan evidence from both sides) that “your” interpretation is the right one?

Hell, it’s not my interpretation. Everybody, except Johann, agrees that he’s lying about this conversation with a French soldier. Both the hostile interpreter and the friendly interns are agreed on that. As for the rest of it, I’m afraid that Hari has lost the right to be given the benefit of the doubt.

69. Dan Zimmerman

@Steve,

You don’t see people ” baying for blood” —

https://twitter.com/brianwhelanhack/status/96202928414670848

WAKE UP.

70. theophrastus

g10 @ 54:

“Your contention that hate-speech towards political opponents is far more common from the left is simply your opinion. There is plenty of invective flowing in both directions, and if you can’t see that you either haven’t been looking hard enough, or are wilfully ignoring it.”

My opinion, yes, but not an unreasonable opinion. And, furthermore, I’m not talking about just invective but hate-speech – and specifically hate-speech with a quasi-religious vocabulary, which demonises and dehumanises its objects.

“…the simplistic (indeed barking) analysis you provide about the slippery slope from describing someone as evil to calling for their extermination.”

But you are quite willing to accept, as Sunny disgracefully suggested, that there is a slippery slope from Melanie Phillips’ views to Breivik’s manifesto and killing spree… Both left and right can play the association game.

” I’m quite capable of believing that Breivik or any other mass murderer is evil, without it leading to me down the path to calling for my political opponents to be killed”.

By all means call Breivik evil: I would not demur. But, please, let’s not devalue the coinage by applying it to any and every Tory, as many do on LC.

“like most others I’m capable of holding the (in my view perfectly reasonable) view that Melanie Phillips shares a measure of culpability due to her distasteful views, and may in fact hold evil views, without being an “evil person”.”

Good. That’s a nuanced view, though I don’t agree with it. I don’t think “most others” are as capable as you of doing that. And I don’t think the use of the term ‘evil’ is at all helpful — indeed, I think it’s harmful – to civilised political discourse. Far better to use terms like ‘(morally) wrong/distasteful/objectionable’, etc than ‘evil’.

As for MP sharing “a measure of culpability”, can I suggest a thought-experiment? Imagine that a deranged individual slaughtered Melanie Phillips and some Tory MPs at a conference, having published a rambling manifesto in which he quoted extensively from LC contributors (perhaps even quoting some of your posts), and other fairly mainstream leftwing writers and thinkers, who have suggested that Melanie Phillips and all Tories are “evil”. Would you, in those circumstances, accept that the LC contributors and the leftwing writers had “a measure of culpability”?

**************
PS You might enjoy ‘Wickedness’ (1984) by the philosopher, Mary Midgley.

Earlier ‘Dan Zimmerman posted the following:

‘Don’t be so quick to ruin a man you little tyke’.

‘Little tyke’?

Where have I come across this phrase before?

I remember – someone called ‘David r’ referred to Hari as a ‘little tyke’ on wikipedia, .

rather an odd coincidence, methinks

Dan Zimmerman:

Wow. You’re *really* grasping at straws now. What in God’s name does that have to do with Johann Hari? Are you suggesting that (left-wing, incidentally) bloke exposed Hari’s plagiarism because he dislikes Sunny Hundal? That’s tenuous, to say the least.

And if he did…it matters why? It doesn’t change the facts regarding Hari whatsoever.

You’re just confirming what I just wrote regarding Hari’s critics being portrayed as lunatics while anyone who defends him is a noble seeker of truth. Hilarious.

73. Dan Zimmerman

@ Steve

It might be time to reduce the dosage dear chap.

Check out the Telegraph’s coverage on Hari, the evidence of a vendetta speaks for itself.

Sorry.

@70 theophrastus

“….can I suggest a thought-experiment? Imagine …”

Your thought experiment falls down for a glaringly obvious reason. I wouldn’t accept that Melanie Phillips and many of her ilk ARE mainstream, which is probably the nub of our differences.

Of course you are quite entitled to cling to your squeamishness about the use of the word “evil”, although I think it’s a tad overdone. I don’t apply it to any and every Tory, and like you wouldn’t approve os anyone who did. Sure, there are lots in here who would, but there are plenty on the right who would be doing the same about people on the left. I would however feel quit comfortable labelling the beliefs of anyone evil it I felt it was merited, whatever their political viewpoint.

I would also disagree that a “slippery slope” from the evil/morally wrong/objectionable etc. views of MP to Breivik’s killing spree is being posited, or even inferred. What some of us are saying is that engaging in particualr sorts of distasteful discourse a la Melanie Phillips cannot somehow be held to be totally unconnected. the same goes for the ultras at the other political extreme, or indeed for “ultras” of any stripe.

What’s sauce for the goose, after all…. that’s why Melanie and those who share her weltanschauung are so upset bless them; they like to dish it out, but they sure can’t take it!

Dan Zimmerman:

Oh dear.

Although there have been mutterings about Hari for years, this story was broken by an ultra-left blog and a left-wing journalist.

It has since been taken up by, yes, Damian Thompson at The Telegraph. It has also been taken up by Guy Walters and David Allen Green at the New Statesman. It has also been taken up (or rather, returned to) by Private Eye (whom, it seems to be forgotten, broke the story referred to in this piece – not Thompson). It has also been taken up by countless bloggers from all political stripes.

Only a complete idiot or, as is very clear in your case, someone seeking to defend Hari at any cost, would even attempt to portray this as the result of a ‘vendetta’.

And I say again – why is it so damaging to Damian Thompson’s credibility that he has, in your eyes, a ‘vendetta’ (because, whether he does or not, he certainly tries to provide evidence for what he asserts) yet when people friendly with Hari defend him you describe it as ‘looking for the whole truth’? Because to any objective observer, the latter would be just as ‘compromised’ by personal feelings as the former.

Feel free to, once again, refuse to tackle any of the points raised and just post a sentence about a right-wing conspiracy!

76. Dan Zimmerman

@ Steve

I think you’ll find its Thompson, Guido and Walters who are still banging on about this issue..

This is politically fuelled. Why try to deny it?

Dan Zimmerman:

“Feel free to, once again, refuse to tackle any of the points raised and just post a sentence about a right-wing conspiracy!”

“I think you’ll find its Thompson, Guido and Walters who are still banging on about this issue.. ”

Unbelievable!

78. theophrastus

g10 @70:

“Your thought experiment falls down for a glaringly obvious reason. I wouldn’t accept that Melanie Phillips and many of her ilk ARE mainstream, which is probably the nub of our differences.”

That’s a gross non sequitur. Whether or not MP and her ilk are ‘mainstream’ to either of us is simply irrelevant to the thought-experiment. What the thought-experiment shows is that

“I would also disagree that a “slippery slope” from the evil/morally wrong/objectionable etc. views of MP to Breivik’s killing spree is being posited, or even inferred.”

Yes, it was. Not by you. But by Sunny and those who agreed with him

“What some of us are saying is that engaging in particualr sorts of distasteful discourse a la Melanie Phillips cannot somehow be held to be totally unconnected.”

Vague, illiberal and weasel words – presumably intended to shut down and censor discussion of Melanie Phillips’ concerns…

Everything in the universe “cannot somehow be held to be totally unconnected” with everything else! So what do you mean exactly?

Is there a causal connexion betweem Melanie Phillips’ writings and the actions of the evil Breivik or even the disgusting racist rabble that is the EDL? If so, please spell it out. Without a causal connexion, there is no culpability.

And if there is a causal connexion, then, as my thought-experiment suggests, the left should be as careful about what it says, too, otherwise it could find itself culpable if a nominally left-wing terrorist went on a killing spree.

79. theophrastus

g10 @ 70: Sorry, delete “What the thought-experiment shows is that” from my 2nd paragraph @78.

@78

Sunny and others can speak for themselves. If they are indeed positing such a direct linkage it’s up to them to defend that view. I frankly doubt that many would share it, here or elsewhere.

Your thought experiment doesn’t show anything useful as far as I’m concerned because it’s too laboured. The “londonistan”, moral panic dog whistling doesn’t support the view that she is anything other than an unpleasant nut job pandering to the more unpleasant reaches of the political right.

Nobody, least of all me, is trying to close down the debate; quite the reverse. Views like her need to be tackled head on and exposed as what they are: the baseless, unpleasant dregs from the mind of a misguided whack job.

You are being disingenuous WRT to the “connected-ness” issue. Possibly it’s deliberate on your part, possibly you’re just another obscurantist waste of bytes like oldandrew. Again, since you are obviously not listening, nobody is saying there is a direct, causal connection. MP or other unpleasant right wing wing nuts cannot be said to have whispered in Breivik’s ear, or oiled his guns. They have however contributed to the broth.

For anyone to try and insist that there is nothing there just looks odd, sorry. Same goes in lots of other cases, and yes, I’m quite aware that the same goes for the left, or non-christians; I never said it was an exclusively right wing issue. As discussed above and in other threads, the issue is rather that people like O’Reilly and Phillips can be seen for the humbugs they really are; they like to dish it out, but they hate having to justify themselves when people point out that their positions essentially mirror those of the “others” they attack.

81. theophrastus

g10 @ 80:

“Your thought experiment doesn’t show anything useful as far as I’m concerned because it’s too laboured.”

I’m afraid that is not a sufficiently strong reason to reject any thought-experiment. Basically, you can see that whether you answer Yes or No to the question at the end of the thought-experiment – viz “Would you, in those circumstances, accept that the LC contributors and the leftwing writers had “a measure of culpability?” – you would face some unwelcome implications. If Yes, the left would by your standards have to be equally careful of what it said as you expect the right to be. (You might even find yourself hearing from Melanie Phillips’ solicitors.) If No, then you would be being inconsistent, and your claim of “a measure of culpability” would fall.

“The “londonistan”, moral panic dog whistling doesn’t support the view that she is anything other than an unpleasant nut job pandering to the more unpleasant reaches of the political right.”

From Wikipedia:

“The book (Melanie Phillips’ ‘Londistan’) encompasses a critique of multiculturalism, alleged weak policing, cultural relativism, and what Phillips calls a ‘victim culture’. She argues that these forces combined to create an ideal breeding ground for Islamic terrorists. She points to the centrality of London based individuals and groups to many terror plots around the world, which she argues were enabled by a semi-formal “covenant of security” between Islamists and the British authorities. Zacharias Moussaoui and shoebomber Richard Reid are two of many such examples she points to in the book.”

Her claims may be false or they may be true; but this summary does not sound to me like an “unpleasant nut job pandering to the more unpleasant reaches of the political right”.

“Possibly it’s deliberate on your part, possibly you’re just another obscurantist waste of bytes like oldandrew. Again, since you are obviously not listening,…”

Turning up your volume and being abusive is not very constructive. There’s no need to get angry.

“nobody is saying there is a direct, causal connection. MP or other unpleasant right wing wing nuts cannot be said to have whispered in Breivik’s ear, or oiled his guns. They have however contributed to the broth.”

Ok, so no direct causal connection. So, then, no culpability either!

And what’s this “broth” you refer to? Can you be more specific? Can you unpack your metaphor, please? It is ironic that you label me an obscurantist when you are being so vague in your use of terminology here.

@ 54

“Lamia @ 63 above, who appears to have an even more slender grip on what constitutes a knock out blow than you.”

Where did I give any indication I consider this a knockout blow? I didn’t. You are making it up. It was Sunny who presented this evidence as if it somehow gets Hari off the hook. It doesn’t.

The case for or against Hari doesn’t rest on this one case, it rests on numerous articles. And even within this one case, the interns agree that the story about the severed heads was not as Hari reported it.

Even if we accept that the degree of destruction desribed is down to a matter of opinion, where does that get you in terms of vindicating Hari? That he tells the truth some of the time and lies some of the time? Hardly a ringing endorsement of an award-winning journalist.

Sorry @ 64, not 54

@81 theophrastus

Wikipedia? really… is that the best you can do? Hmmmnnnn…

Don’t flatter yourself…. mildly irritated; you aren’t cogent enough to be worth being angry with.

In your strange world I can see you *believe* that no direct connection = absolutely no culpability. Many others, including me, disagree. Not really worth belabouring the point.

The metaphor has been more than adequately explained above. Try actually engaging in argument rather than pointless trolling like your stablemate oldandrew.

@Dan Zimmerman

Are you another of Johann Hari’s sockpuppets?

There are at least three possibilities:

a) Zimmerman is Hari (he has denied this on Damien Thompson’s excellent blog, but can we believe him?);

b) Zimmerman is a close friend of Hari’s (- yet to be denied. He is certainly going to extraordinary lengths to defend Hari on at least two blogs);

c) Zimmerman is Hari’s little brother and is being taught how to be a media whore.(starting with lessons in sockpuppetry).

87. Bessiewept

I get it. Anyone who agrees Hari is being raked over the coals because:

1: He is fearless
2: He made mistakes
3: Homophobia is rife
4: The emails prove these interns have fickle memories

is a sock puppet?

Excellent argument. Not at all ridiculous.

88. Augustine

Please stop immediately labelling anyone who “defends” Johann Hari (especially if they only seek to defend him from one particular charge) as being Johann Hari’s Sock Puppet! It’s extremely intellectually dishonest. Surely there are better ways of replying.

Re the rightwinger accusations…it’s wrong to say the whole affair is a right wing conspiracy, obviously. But there are clearly a couple..particularly persistant commentators on this affair who have had their Christmas come early and are seizing on this story out of partisan loathing for Hari.

89. Augustine

I’m surprised no one has looked at this tiny part of the translator’s email:
“I never commented publicly on Johann’s shocking comments and behaviour during the trip, and I have limited myself to addressing the inaccuracies of his reporting. ”

Wonder what Johann’s “shocking comments and behaviour during the trip” were. There’s something a little troubling about the way the translator phrases it. It’s kind of like that old Ciceronian trick of saying “Of course, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’m not going to mention that the defendant kills and eats babies for fun, as it has no bearing on the case before you now.”

This does make me wonder if the translator really does have an agenda against Hari. If you’re not going to comment on his “shocking comments and behaviour”..why mention that he made such things at all? Kind of seems like she is having her cake and eating it here: taking the moral highground by claiming to be above denouncing him, while at the same time damning him without giving us a chance to judge Hari correctly and assess the specific comments and behaviour as to whether they really were “shocking” after all.

90. Flowerpower

Augustine

at the same time damning him without giving us a chance to judge Hari correctly and assess the specific comments and behaviour as to whether they really were “shocking” after all.

I suspect this e-mail wasn’t written for “us” but for its addressee, who presumably knows all about the “shocking behaviour” alluded to.

91. Augustine

FLower Power – as the addressee was Damian Thompson, why wouldn’t he publish what the behaviour and comments were?

92. Flowerpower

Augustine

as the addressee was Damian Thompson, why wouldn’t he publish what the behaviour and comments were?

Perhaps because he’s a good journo….. and unlike Sunny, doesn’t rush into print before standing up the allegation?

93. theophrastus

G10 @84

“I can see you *believe* that no direct connection = absolutely no culpability”

No, no, no, I don’t believe that. Rather, I am saying no causal connexion(s) (direct or indirect) = no culpability. The responsibility or culpability of an agent for x requires that the agent has some direct or indirect causal connexion(s) to x, where x is an event or state of affairs.

To illustrate the above… so what caused X to fall over? Direct cause: X tripped on his untied shoe lace. Indirect cause (one among others): gravity. Or: what caused Y to be a suicide bomber? Direct cause: Islamist indoctrination in jihad. Indirect cause (one among others): western foreign policy.

Causal connexion(s) is/are the basis of culpability in English and Scottish law, and this understanding of culpability ultimately derives from Aristotle’s discussion of responsibility in his Nicomachean Ethics.

In “your strange world”, it seems that certain unspecified, metaphorical, non-causal relations can produce culpability – which apparently is only perceivable by those with a left-wing mindset.

“Try actually engaging in argument rather than pointless trolling”

Oh dear, more abuse. I’ve been engaging in rational argument by analysing the concepts involved here, reasoning according to the laws of logic, and applying established legal and moral definitions. And as for trolling, you are just defining that as ‘disagreeing with galen10’.

94. Augustine

“Perhaps because he’s a good journo….. and unlike Sunny, doesn’t rush into print before standing up the allegation?” – Flowerpower

Didn’t exactly stop him from blogging about the still unsubstantiated wiki vandalism claims and rather wallowing in the claims about the porn story…

…so why not report the mystery “shocking” comments and behaviour? He’s happy enough to report the translator’s claims that Hari behaved badly AFTER his trip to Africa, why not her claims he behaved badly DURING the trip? Perhaps because it introduce a dimension of personal conflict between Hari and the translator, making both their claims about each other suspect.

@93

“Ok, so no direct causal connection. So, then, no culpability either!”

I’ll try and make this very simple for you, because that’s obviously what it’s gonna take.

Whilst you may vehemently disagree, plenty of people (and not just died in the wool lefties) are quite convinced that people like like Melanie Phillips, and those who hold similar views on the right, share a measure of culpability for creating the environment which produces Breivik and his ilk. There is nothing exceptional in this belief, it is widely and sincerely held. The fact that you don’t like it is neither here nor there.

Oh, and don’t try the condescending “I know about English/Scots law, and even Aristotle… so I MUST know what I’m talking about” line… it just makes you look like a twat.

96. theophrastus

g10 @ 95:

“people like like Melanie Phillips, and those who hold similar views on the right, share a measure of culpability for creating the environment which produces Breivik and his ilk”

So Melanie Phillips et al somehow contribute to an “environment”, and somehow this “environment” “produces” Breivik “and his ilk”.

All very vague; and as there’s no clear causal connection between Melanie Phillips et al and “Breivik and his ilk”, so there’s no culpability that could ever be established in a court of law. In short, it’s a smear.

Just as it would be a smear to hold that left-wing writers “share a measure of culpability” for contributing to an “environment” that in turn “produces” outrages by left-wing terrorists or spree killers.

” There is nothing exceptional in this belief, it is widely and sincerely held.”

It’s an exceptionally vague, incoherent and silly belief; and whether it’s widely and sincerely held is irrelevant to its truth or falsity.

“Oh, and don’t try the condescending “I know about English/Scots law, and even Aristotle… so I MUST know what I’m talking about” line… it just makes you look like a twat.”

Oh dear, more abuse and anger. And I fear your personal insecurities are showing here. I didn’t intend to be condescending. I was simply making the point that my understanding of culpability is one that has been around for hundreds if not a couple of thousand years – and is applied daily in our courts of law.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  2. Scott Macdonald

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  3. sunny hundal

    EXCLUSIVE: Interns at NGO dispute allegations against @johannhari101 on Orwell Prize winning article http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  4. Roz Kaveney

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  7. Jamie Hughes

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  8. Samantha Halford

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  9. fu

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  10. Martin

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  11. Joss Garman

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  12. Pedro

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  13. Rachel McCormack

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  14. Trakgalvis

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  16. Pyrmontvillage

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  17. Glyn

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  18. Josh Spero

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  20. Natacha Kennedy

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  21. elliot herman

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  22. sunny hundal

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  23. manishta sunnia

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  24. Muhammad

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  26. Owen Jones

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  27. Andrew Mountford

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  28. Amanda Giles

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  29. Dominic

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  30. Amster

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  31. Jill Hayward

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  32. Duncan Hothersall

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  33. Patrick Strudwick

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  34. czol

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  35. daniel bye

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  36. Jean Pierre

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  37. Shona Ghosh

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  38. Patrick Strudwick

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  39. Neil Denny

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  40. Jean Pierre

    “@sunny_hundal: Private Eye article on Johann Hari disputed by people who were with Hari at the trip http://t.co/Rlx7kWO” <–interesting!

  41. Amelia L

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  43. Peter Marshall

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  48. Samuel Barnett

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  49. sunny hundal

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  50. Gayle Wood

    The truth about Johann Hari and the Central African Republic, from the people who were there: http://t.co/9lU31pj (courtesy of @libcon)

  51. Tom Scott

    The truth about Johann Hari and the Central African Republic, from the people who were there: http://t.co/9lU31pj (courtesy of @libcon)

  52. Shiraz Chakera

    @Trought4TheDay @HasitShah @sashabreslau The Hari story continues http://t.co/Ck5SCEU

  53. nofrills ?????

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  54. Get Political Fund » Blog Archive » Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari …

    […] Go here to see the original: Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari … […]

  55. Lisa Egan

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  56. Anna Feruglio

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  57. Andy Bean

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  58. dOSsdaz

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  59. Spir.Sotiropoulou

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  60. Michael Bater

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  61. paddy

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  62. Tim

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  63. Michael O'Donnell

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  64. MerseyMal

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  65. TenPercent

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  66. Martin

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  67. Ben Hunt

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  68. Kate Harrad

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  69. Grass House

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  70. Robert Duncan

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  71. David McMillan

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  72. Matt Billing

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  73. Daniel Phillips

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  74. Pucci Dellanno

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  75. David

    Not clear theyre false al http://tgr.ph/pWDjD3 RT @GeorgeMonbiot: We all accept that @johannhari101 got things wrong… http://bit.ly/rnbPsl

  76. puddy pad

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  77. Chris Stagg

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  78. Phillip Dyte

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  79. Molly

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  80. Justine Roberts

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  81. Pucci Dellanno

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  82. Mary-Louise Clews

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  83. Nicola

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  84. Michael Leigh

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  85. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  86. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  87. sunny hundal

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  88. Naomi Klein

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  89. Joy Francis

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  90. Three Stags

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  91. David Power

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  92. Chris Paul

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  93. Alice Chan

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  94. Edwin Rogers

    URL is Fryed @stephenfry "Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://t.co/OcOYbAv”

  95. Mischa Hiller

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  96. Paul Willerton

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  97. Ian Charles

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  98. Gerard Wyer

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  99. shannonmkennedy

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  100. ian jenkins

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  101. Damian Corbet

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  102. sunny hundal

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  103. SHAY

    @MrKennethTong Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://t.co/4KidMkj

  104. Damian Corbet

    @entschwindet Read this for a new take on Johann Hari: http://t.co/leLuffa

  105. Chris Melvin

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  106. Meino de Vries

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  107. Chris Lawler

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  108. ben stewart

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  109. Jean Pierre

    So apparently the case against Hari regarding the Orwell Prize isn't a clear cut as Private Eye would have you believe http://bit.ly/qDf05L

  110. p

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  111. John Band

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  112. David McMillan

    So apparently the case against Hari regarding the Orwell Prize isn't a clear cut as Private Eye would have you believe http://bit.ly/qDf05L

  113. jamie k

    Says here that Orwell prize given to Hari on basis of CAR artiicle, severdc heads and all. But that was obvious BS: http://t.co/pfmKw9l

  114. Simon clark

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  115. Tom

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  116. Amelia Hill

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  117. Tom

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  118. Sam

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  119. Martin Hickman

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  120. Nick Mellish

    Showing no sign of ending soon, is it? RT @libcon: Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  121. Anne

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  122. Martin Burke

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  123. Justyn Barnes

    “@libcon: Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://t.co/txsjyLG”

  124. ashley ethan

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  125. csignals

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  126. Keith Parkins

    Private Eye article 'Orwellian Nightmare' on Johann Hari disputed by people who were with Hari at the trip http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  127. csignals

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  128. David McMillan

    Private Eye article 'Orwellian Nightmare' on Johann Hari disputed by people who were with Hari at the trip http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  129. Jonny B Good

    Top story: Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari | Liberal C… http://goo.gl/KE3bA, see more http://goo.gl/KVWb9

  130. Adam

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  131. jollyjapes

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  132. Jon Bigger

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  133. Thelma Barlow

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  134. MissBeckyTaylor

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  135. Del Shukum

    So apparently the case against Hari regarding the Orwell Prize isn't a clear cut as Private Eye would have you believe http://bit.ly/qDf05L

  136. Oliver Duggan

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  137. Amy Scott

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  138. Chris Wilkinson

    The truth about Johann Hari and the Central African Republic, from the people who were there: http://t.co/9lU31pj (courtesy of @libcon)

  139. :::

    Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/gQNu1Qe via @libcon

  140. Jeanie O'Hare

    NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WAzw6I3 via @libcon

  141. David Charlton

    Private Eye article 'Orwellian Nightmare' on Johann Hari disputed by people who were with Hari at the trip http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  142. Azicrow

    The truth about Johann Hari and the Central African Republic, from the people who were there: http://t.co/9lU31pj (courtesy of @libcon)

  143. Peter Monnerjahn

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  144. Peter Monnerjahn

    #PuffHo piece http://is.gd/B02rx3 abt @johannhari101’s alleged misconduct doesn’t bother to critically check sources: http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  145. Brian Pelan

    NGO workers dispute allegations against @JohannHari http://t.co/e7f7kUr via @libcon .@privateeye .@guardian

  146. Brian Pelan

    We all accept that @johannhari101 got things wrong. But no excuse for making false allegtns against him: http://t.co/NAX5S5R @sunny_hundal

  147. Richard

    @playfor RT @libcon Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  148. Jay Luxembourg

    Read @libcon article re @johannhari101 allegations http://t.co/SgbRMHC & if you want 2 after doing so ask @privateeyenews 2 print correction

  149. Jay Luxembourg

    @privateeyenews please print a correction of your piece about Johann Hari after @libcon throws allegations into question http://t.co/SgbRMHC

  150. Paul Durant

    Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WSf2Gx3 via @libcon

  151. Kate Rowlands

    @thomdyke http://t.co/ONfhLCl

  152. Joanne Clair

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  153. mBloging Tester

    Private Eye article 'Orwellian Nightmare' on Johann Hari disputed by people who were with Hari at the trip http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  154. Deborah Orr

    @amonck http://t.co/SgbRMHC

  155. Adrian Monck

    Latest on .@johannhari101 via .@DeborahJaneOrr http://t.co/u12oT2J

  156. Lauren Laverne

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  157. Emma

    MT @laurenlaverne V interested to read the latest in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  158. Teresa Sharp

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  159. Amy Laurens

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  160. Caitlin Moran

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  161. Kieran Harrington

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  162. Sarah Moore

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  163. Margaret Byron

    RT @libcon: Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://t.co/RAEMGVm

  164. Tommy Lassoo

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  165. Me

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  166. Emer McCourt

    Read l8er RT @caitlinmoran: V interested to read the latest in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing allegations http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  167. Julian Simpson

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  168. Emma Binning

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  169. Melissa Higgs

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  170. Claire Badschnoodles

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  171. Mrs Sue Perkins

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  172. reallyquitetired

    We all accept that @johannhari101 got things wrong. But no excuse for making false allegtns against him: http://t.co/NAX5S5R @sunny_hundal

  173. reallyquitetired

    We all accept that @johannhari101 got things wrong. But no excuse for making false allegtns against him: http://t.co/NAX5S5R @sunny_hundal

  174. Jonathan Philpot

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  175. Jonathan Philpot

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  176. Elizabeth Stirling

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  177. Elizabeth Stirling

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  178. Heywood Hadfield

    RT @laurenlaverne latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  179. Alice J Tyler

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  180. jane ambrose

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  181. Simon Watkins

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  182. Charlotte Jee

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  183. sasha carnevali

    V interested to read the latest (via @GeorgeMonbiot) in the @johannhari101 saga, disputing the allegations against him http://t.co/vSP7QS1

  184. sianushka

    @RamonYouseph this piece kinda refutes the private eye article http://t.co/YkYMboH re johann hari

  185. Jason Paul Grant

    Exclusive: NGO workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PHFPspY via @libcon

  186. David Levene

    @paulkingsnorth http://t.co/Inkcmvx

  187. Tom W

    Exclusive: Charity workers dispute allegations against Johann Hari http://bit.ly/qP0tOX

  188. The Lost Boy

    Maybe Johann Hari isn't the devil? http://t.co/droqfBa

  189. Johann Hari and the article for Speigel | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] of Polly Toynbee leapt to his defence, but it is also a theme in the comments threads of posts like this one on Liberal Conspiracy last […]

  190. Derek Thomas

    So apparently the case against Hari regarding the Orwell Prize isn't a clear cut as Private Eye would have you believe http://bit.ly/qDf05L





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