Neil Harman has been The Times of London's chief tennis correspondent since 2002, during which time he has been awarded the Sports Journalist Association's "Sports News Reporter of the Year" award, as well as the ATP's Ron Bookman Award for Media Excellence. He is also, as he admitted in a letter sent to the International Tennis Writers Association today, a plagiarist.
Since 2004, Harman has been enjoying a cushy gig churning out a yearly edition of Wimbledon: The Official Story of The Championships. Each one is essentially an official yearbook of that year's tournament, the kind of thing that would look nice on a tennis fan's coffee table. In today's letter, Harman admits to having plagiarized "part" of his writing in these books, referencing "several errors":
It has been brought to my attention that I have severely compromised my position as a member, having used unattributed material to form part of my writing of the Wimbledon Yearbook. There can be no excuse for such shoddy work, which I deeply regret. I did it without malice aforethought, but that I did it at all is simply inexcusable.
I sincerely had no idea the extent to which I had let the Club, myself and my colleagues down and feel it is only right that I relinquish my membership. This is a marked stain on my reputation and (I hope) good name.
When Wimbledon first informed me that they had been made aware of this lack of professionalism, I immediately told those British writers who were attending the Davis Cup tie in Naples. Since then, I realise that I had made several errors which are unconscionable. It is far better for all concerned that I resign my membership.
The timing of this admission is a bit curious, at least to us. Just yesterday, we received an anonymous tip alleging that Harman has long been engaging in rampant plagiarism while writing these Wimbledon books. Our guess is that this tipster has reached out to a few media outlets, and that Harman got word of it and decided to get out in front of the coming shit storm. According to our tipster, though, Harman's plagiarism went a few steps beyond "several errors." Here's the e-mail we got:
Neil Harman, tennis correspondent for The Times, has engaged in rampant plagiarism. He was commissioned by Wimbledon to write the Wimbledon annual (a book which summarises that year's tournament) for the last 10 years or so. Significant portions of these annuals were plagiarised from The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, and The New York Times. Only the Americans appear to take this sort of thing seriously. All you need is a copy of the 2013 Wimbledon annual and Google and you'll find hit after hit of stolen material. Check every annual Harman has ever written and you'll find the same. My American colleagues tell me that if any of them got caught in the States doing something like this they'd be sacked on the spot and publicly shamed (by websites like yours, no less). In Britain we think if we just ignore something it will go away. There is something fundamentally broken about our system and our lack of ethics. It needs to stop. He's been known to plagiarise his colleagues' work and steal exclusive quotes without attribution for his own paper. His 35.5k Twitter followers (the most of any tennis journalist) seems to have inflated his insufferable ego to the point that he believes he is the most important tennis journalist in the world. Players and agents believe it as well (he was hired to ghost-write Andy Murray's book after he won Wimbledon). In fact, he is nothing but a deceitful operator who has built a career on the wrong side of the ethics line. His editors at The Times know about all this and have done nothing to censure him. Wimbledon learned of the plagiarism and continued to sell the plagiarised book in their store. They hired him for this year's Wimbledon programme. He got an exclusive invite to the Wimbledon Champions' Dinner. Quite the cover-up by the All England Club.
We've ordered a few editions of the Wimbledon yearbook to see what we can find, but if you happen to own one and want to share any of your own findings here in the discussion section, we're all ears.