An award-winning former regional journalist who rose to become national journalism’s ‘Mr Tennis’ has been suspended from his job after admitting plagiarism.
Neil Harman has been suspended as the Times’ chief tennis correspondent after resigning from his co-president’s role on the International Tennis Writers Association he helped found.
It came after he admitted failing to attribute material taken from other writers for the 2013 edition of the official Wimbledon annual.
Neil, 57, started his 40-year career at the Evening Echo, Southend, before becoming a soccer writer with the Birmingham Evening Mail in the late 1970s.
After leaving the regional press, Neil became a tennis writer at both the Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph before taking up his current role in 2002.
He admitted he had been left with no choice but to resign from the ITWA.
He said: “It has been brought to my attention that I have severely compromised my position as a member, having used unattributed material to form part of my writing of the Wimbledon Yearbook.
“There can be no excuse for such shoddy work, which I deeply regret. I did it without malice aforethought, but that I did it at all is simply inexcusable.”
Examples included copying an article written by John Wertheim, a writer for Sports Illustrated, about a women’s singles quarter-final match between Marion Bartoli and Sloane Stephens, which read almost exactly the same.
Further investigations by Ben Rothenberg for US current affairs and culture magazine Slate revealed up to 52 examples of lifted copy in the past three editions.
The highlight of the 2013 annual was Andy Murray’s victory over world No.1 Novak Djokovic on Centre Court, signalling the end of a 77-year wait for a British men’s singles champion at Wimbledon.
Neil helped Murray in the publication of his biography Andy Murray: Seventy-Seven: My Road to Wimbledon Glory and also with Beckham wrote David Beckham’s official biography: A dream come true
In 2007 Neil became the first tennis journalist to be awarded the Sports Journalists’ Association’s Sports News Reporter of the Year award. He was also the recipient of the ATP’s Ron Bookman Award for Media Excellence in 2005.
A spokeswoman for The Times said he had been suspended “pending an investigation into allegations of plagiarism”.