Neil Harman Resigns from ITWA, Admits to Plagiarism

According to a source, London Times tennis correspondent Neil Harman has resigned from the International Tennis Writers Association. In an email to ITWA members on Wednesday, he admitted to plagiarizing material for the official Wimbledon Yearbook, which he was hired to write by the LTA:

I am writing to you as co-President to inform you that I have decided to resign from ITWA and do so with a heavy heart but it is clear that I have no alternative.

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.

As a founder member of the association, I am exceedingly proud of its many achievements in opening up the game more to the media, our excellent facilities worldwide and the ability of our members to mingle more with players to the enhancement of our working practices. I relished my time as president, and believe I contributed much to the advancement of our profession.

But I have allowed my standards to slide, more than is acceptable.

As I am typing this, I see on Twitter an ‘inspirational quote’ which reads ‘the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited or erased, it can only be accepted’. I hope that I remain accepted as part of the tennis-writing community I love so deeply, as much as I have wronged many of its members.

I wish you well in your future endeavours and may ITWA go from strength to strength. We have made great strides, the sport is better for a stronger media unit, I remain committed to the cause and always will be.
With sincere regards,


PS: I am more than happy for you to read this out at the next meeting.

27 Responses

  1. JLindyNYC
    JLindyNYC July 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm |

    Would like to hear full commentary by Amy and Lindsay on this.

  2. Matt Zemek
    Matt Zemek July 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm |









  3. Karen
    Karen July 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm |

    Neil’s letter seems to indicate that there is much more to this story, but of course, I doubt if any of our wonderful journalists out there will try to get to the bottom of this.

  4. skip1515
    skip1515 July 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

    Does anyone have the particulars of what Harman copied, with any kind of indication as to how it happened without “malice aforethought”?

    To all appearances, from my very distant observation post, Harman is a very unlikely candidate for willful plagiarism. That’s not to say it’s not possible, just that it seems improbable.

    1. Ana
      Ana July 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm |

      According to a brief post in today’s print edition of Private Eye, Harman lifted material from five members of the Guardian’s sports-writing staff (including Kevin Mitchell & Simon Cambers). There was also evidence of “extensive” copy & paste from Sports Illustrated, who are apparently considering legal action.

      1. Sonja
        Sonja July 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm |

        so he basically stole from courtney and jon werteim or (however ir writes)? is it known from what pieces did he stole?

    2. Ana
      Ana July 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm |

      By now, everyone’s likely read Rothenberg’s Slate article. Still, this passage seemed worth sharing:

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

  5. eddie-g
    eddie-g July 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm |

    So Wimbledon became aware of this sometime earlier this year, certainly by April. Yet according to one tipster… they retained Harman to write the year-book again this year, had him help write the programme, and even invited him to the Champion’s Dinner.

    Not just Harman who has some ethics questions to answer.

  6. oscar
    oscar July 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm |

    “It has been brought to my attention….”

    Yes, because otherwise ‘I’ would have had no idea that ‘I’ was directly copying, without attribution, from multiple sources and writers, for years and years and years. Also: ‘I’ am full of shiite.

  7. Andrew Burton
    Andrew Burton July 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm |

    Not a good day. I was sorry to hear about this.

    Good people sometimes do things they regret later.

    I’ve done a lot of things I’ve regretted later. I aspire to become a good person.

    1. Jewell
      Jewell July 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm |

      Usually when they get caught, like now.

      1. Jewell
        Jewell July 24, 2014 at 3:06 pm |

        Sorry, that was a bit cynical.

  8. Ian Smith
    Ian Smith July 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm |

    Will Neil have to pay back the monies he has earned from this ? Or perhaps he could come to an agreement to donate the amount to Rally For Bally or other charity.

    How does this effect his position at The Times ?

    1. Justin Horton
      Justin Horton July 24, 2014 at 4:19 am |

      How does it affect his position at the Times? Well, it depends on whether he’s shown the same indulgence as their chess correspondent, Ray keene, who has got away with massive plagiarism on a Harman-like scale.

      Clearly there is no way either of them should remain in their post.

      1. anora
        anora July 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm |

        Yes, but the point is that Keene is still a chess correspondent and still gets his books published despite the massive amounts of plagiarism that he has committed over the years which, to date, has far exceeded what Harman has done.

  9. eddie-g
    eddie-g July 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm |

    I guess the timing of Harman’s confession/resignation is now explained. Ben Rothenberg interviewed him just today to complete his scoop.

    Inevitably, it’s way worse than Harman let on. According to Rothenberg – “My personal review of the 2013 book found 14 large passages taken without attribution. Further, my examination of his writing for the previous two Wimbledon annuals revealed at least eight instances of obvious plagiarism in the 2012 book, and a staggering 30 in the 2011 edition, bringing the total to at least 52 in the last three books. I have yet to examine the 2004-through-2010 books.”


  10. skip1515
    skip1515 July 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm |

    I just read the Slate/Rothenberg article, having come upon it on my own and just now returning to see others have posted after my 2:43. I know Harman only through his writing, and by how he’s referred to in the writing of others. That does not approach *knowing* someone. Nonetheless, I’m stunned.

  11. Prominent British tennis reporter admits to plagiarism - The Washington Post

    […] a letter sent to the International Tennis Writers Association published Wednesday on The Changeover, Harman wrote that he has resigned from the association and admitted to plagiarizing material for […]

  12. Lessons To Be Learned From Neil Harman Plagiarism Case | Around The Post

    […] the International Tennis Writers Association via Twitter when the popular tennis blog The Changeover posted a transcript of his e-mail to the ITWA. The tennis community was shocked, but this […]

  13. Eric
    Eric July 23, 2014 at 8:04 pm |

    If an athlete had doped 52 times in 3 years and said “I’m mortified to find out I have been doping” would any journalist believe it? Yet nobody British writer (nor Wertheim when he interviewed Harman on the phone) called him on his bullshit.

  14. O erro de um veterano | Sheiloka Fala de Tênis

    […] história veio a público primeiramente no site The Changeover, que publicou um email de Harman para seus colegas, no qual ele anuncia sua saída da IWTA […]

  15. Joe
    Joe July 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm |

    Oddly, what bothers me in that Rothenberg piece is the tweet at the end that alludes to “finding out who your true friends are.” I can’t believe Harman has the stones to try to play the victim card. Then again, he had the stones to lift entire paragraphs from other writers and think he could get away with it, so…

  16. SamG
    SamG July 24, 2014 at 3:58 am |

    I’ve been blatantly plagiarising for years – and earning a living while doing it – but I had no idea of the extent of what I was doing…

    COME ON!!!!!!! Really???

  17. Tim Grovenor
    Tim Grovenor July 24, 2014 at 7:22 am |

    Surely The Times will need to part ways with Neil ? Read his articles in todays edition, which made me feel uncomfortable.

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