Thursday 15 September 2011

The poison pen of Johann Hari

'David Rose':
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
Johann Hari, the plagiarist and liar, has been allowed to keep working at the Independent despite being caught bang to rights as a fraudulent troll. I was barely aware of this fellow's existence until his journalistic techniques were exposed a few months ago. They should have been enough to get him sacked. Instead, the Independent have let him off with a whining, self-serving apology.

More interesting than the shoddy journalism is the Wikipedia trolling. Rumours have abounded for some time that 'David Rose'—Hari's number one fan on the internet—is Hari himself. This has now been confirmed by the bubonic plagiarist. He operated several sockpuppets on Wikipedia to make himself out to be, as Nick Cohen put it, "one of the essential writers of our time". More seriously, he has also persistently edited the Wiki pages of people he dislikes, including Cohen, with libellous glee. This, too, is not a sackable offence at the Independent.

Nothing is deleted on Wikipedia and the entries of David Rose (or 'David r from meth productions') stand as a testimony to the extraordinary scale and range of Hari's six year trolling campaign. Certain themes emerge. Much of his time was spent emphasising his own importance as a major cultural figure. He pushes to have his every award and nomination put centre stage. As a left-wing journalist, he is eager to downplay his privileged education. He consistently edits the pages of his heroes such as Polly Toynbee and George Monbiot to portray them in their best light. He repeatedly edits his enemies to make them look like racists, or thugs, or loonies.

This, again, is apparently all well and good at the Independent.

The depth of the deceit is difficult to put across in a single blog post. The examples below are just just a tiny proportion of his contributions, each of which he fights for, sometimes for months, repeatedly posting them after others have removed them. As other Wiki editors call him out on the subterfuge, Hari goes to extraordinary lengths to maintain the deception. David Rose is given a full back story—details of his education and his career emerge, often with wholly unnecessary detail. At one point, David Rose's IP address is found to be that of the Independent's offices and an elaborate effort is made to portray Rose as a subeditor at the paper, a job that Hari got him (they went to University together, in this fiction).

He is, at the very least, a weird guy, and the Wikipedia edits tell us a few things about him.

He doesn't like people knowing he went to a public school.


He attended Aylward School, the famous fee-paying John Lyon School in Harrow, North Cheshire Theatre School, and Woodhouse College

Hari's version

He attended Aylward School, John Lyon School, North Cheshire Theatre School, and Woodhouse College

But should you happen upon the Wikipedia page of his public school, he wants you to know that he didn't like it there.

One prominent alumnus, Johann Hari, has been very critical of the school, describing it as "appalling" and "a factory-school churning out robotic middle-ranking accountants, and which sees creativity and intellect as a problem."

He doesn't like people knowing that his idols also went to public school either. This, from the Wikpedia entry for George Monbiot.


He was educated at Stowe School, a boys' independent school in Buckinghamshire

Hari's version

He was educated at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire

All pretty mild stuff until we get onto his enemies. He definitely doesn't like (former New Statesman colleague) Christine Odone very much.

She notoriously attacked her colleagues Jackie Ashley and Johann Hari, claiming "to reveal how "viciously" and "wickedly" the Blairites - from Peter Mandelson to Jackie Ashley and Johann Hari - have acted during her six and a half years in the job." She said, "These people - who I call the ‘neo-Left’ - are cancerous crusts on the real old-fashioned socialists like Peter [Wilby]... The neo-Left can’t stand the New Statesman because it is owned and edited by people who are quite old-fashioned Left. So they unleash a poison that has been very personal. I’ve been very close to people on the Right - the Catholic Herald [which she edited] was more right than left, and I’d worked for the Daily Telegraph. However nasty the Right gets, the Left gets much more wicked... I found myself reading that staff had a voodoo doll of me, and were sticking pins in it because they hated me. I’ve even been wished stomach cancer."

Hari replied, "I'm quite worried about Cristina's sanity. This interview is just bizarre. Apparently I am conspiring to create a Blairite coup at the NS with one person I've never met - Peter Mandelson - and one person, Jackie Ashley, who is such a Blairite she calls repeatedly for Blair to resign. And to what end? why would I want a Blairite coup? Hello? Poor Cristina. I hope she is happier - and saner - soon."

He continued, "As for Peter, who she accuses me of attacking, the exact opposite is the truth. I love Peter Wilby. he gave me my big break in journalism, and I have learned more from him than from almost anybody else I can think of. If anything, he will be an even greater editor when he is no longer chained to a very unhappy and paranoid deputy ranting about voodoo dolls and imaginary conspiracies."

He concluded, "And as for the left being more vicious than the right.... well Cristina, of course the right is nice to you. You are one of them. No doubt the right would equally 'vicious' if a left-winger was bizarrely made deputy editor of the Spectator."

In fact, he hates her. (This, from the Wikipedia entry for Jackie Ashley).

Since then, she has been a television news reporter and newspaper journalist, writing for the New Statesman (where she was violently attacked by Cristina Odone)

He doesn't much care for Richard Littlejohn either, as you might expect (his additions are in bold).

Although he is sometimes praised as an antidote to political correctness, other critics see him as a bigot. Littlejohn has shown his dislike for the far-right British National Party by describing them as "knuckle-scraping scum". However, the leader of the far right party, Nick Griffin, has described Littlejohn as his favourite writer.

Littlejohn has a criminal conviction over acts of violence committed in Peterborough in the 1970s.

He sees himself as one of the great intellectuals, (although his spelling could be better).

Hari defines himself as a defender of the Enlightenment as a systme of rational inquiry he believes is under threat.

He does not like people doubting that he is a major figure in public life. (From the Talk page)

I've suggested as a compromise we say "Hari defines himself as a defender of the Enlightenment, which he sees a system of rational thought that is under seige." That is undoubtedly true. This is not a stray judgement - the National Secular Society, founded to protect the values of the Enlightenment, nomintated him for its Secularist of the Year award in 2006 alongside Salman Rushdie and Ayan Hirsi Ali. You may say it is "untrue", Felix, and he is "a fairly trivial op-ed writer" (as well as a "little tyke"), but that is your POV and some very serious people who dedicate their lives to these issues disagree.

You then ask, "Is he an Enlightenment scholar?" No, he is according to the National Secular Society one of the five most distinguished non-scholastic defenders of the Enlightenment in Britain in 2006. Where in the article does it suggest he is a scholar? 

He doesn't like Francis Wheen, who wrote an exposé of Hari in Private Eye. As well as editing his own Wikipedia page to remove all mention of the Private Eye story, Hari added the following section to Wheen's Wikipedia entry.

Wheen has been dubbed "the Rottweiller of Decency" for his alleged habit of attacking people who displease the so-called 'decent' left associated with the Euston Manifesto. He was accused of hypocrisy when in Private Eye he vehemently attacked a review by Johann Hari of the pro-war book 'What's Left' by Nick Cohen, impugning Hari's journalistic standards, without declaring that he is a close personal friend of Cohen's and thanked at length in the book under discussion. Critics charged that this is the sort of unethical behaviour that Wheen condemns so often in others. A letter in Private Eye later argued that the magazine, via Wheen's writings, "attacks honest journalists just because they criticise you and your mates."

He doesn't much care for the then-editor of the Independent, Roger Alton. (Hari's addition in bold—no loyalty to the Indie from Hari.)

In April 2008, Alton was confirmed as the new editor of The Independent, beginning work on 1 July 2008. Since then, the Independent's circulation has plummeted by nearly 20 percent.

He doesn't like the historian Andrew Roberts. (Hari's addition in bold.)

Roberts was raised in the Church of England (Anglican). He attended Cranleigh School. At Cranleigh's senior school he was expelled for drinking, climbing on a roof and cling-filming the lavatories.

He is a rather vain man who spent many months trying to get the photo changed on his Wikipedia entry. This involved the creation of several more sockpuppets and an elaborate wheeze in which he (as David Rose) pretended to be in contact with himself (Johann Hari).

The picture you posted of Hari is barely recognisable; you aren't meant to post odd snaps, they should be reasonable quality photographs where you can see what the person looks like.

Here is the e-mail I revieved from hari re: the original picture I posted (with intro and end-bit edited out, they were about other stuff and a mutual friend):

"Yeah, I own the copyright I guess on that picture, my dad took it on a rare day when I didn't look entirely like a Down's Syndrome. I'm very happy to waive all claims to the copyright and to place it in the public domain. When one day a picture is finally taken showing my remarkable similarity to Brad Pitt I'll let you have that too."

I think that shows we can use the original photo in clear line with the wiki rules.

And then, holding two sockpuppets ('Dave' and 'Jessica'), Hari stages a conversation between the two of them about himself. And third (real) user, Felix, has already seen through the sham.

['Jessica':] Felix, you've again responded to my comments by calling me Dave. This is ludicrous and offensive, as your picture is ludicrous and offensive. I have deleted it again.

What is the status of Dave's attempts to clear copyright on the orginal picture?

['Dave':]Hi Jessica - I e-mailed Hari, and he said he places the picture in the public domain, as I said above. I'm not sure about copyright law, which would say whether this is sufficient, but my sister knows a copyright laywer so I'm going to call her tonight and ask about that. I also asked Hari if he has any other pictures, but I think he's still in Mexico as he hasn't replied.

He doesn't like people accusing him of being Johann Hari.

I have compromised and engaged with those who agree with specific points by Felix. However, Felix by contrast has simply accused anybody who posts in agreement with me of being a sock-puppet and ignored them. (Indeed, he ignored me for a long time, claiming I was Johann Hari, until somebody who we both know pointed out that I am not).

But he is a "free speech obsessive".

I proposed the edits, and no, I am not Johann Hari. I know him a bit, we were at university together, and I have done some work on his website. You can e-mail me at

I think the article about him is outrageous and I e-mailed Johann about it but he has been in Taiwan and has not yet replied. The Private Eye allegations have been answered by Johann and you don't even mention that. While accusing him of lying, you repeat a lie of your own: he did in fact respond to the Iraq Pastor allegations, admitting they were "bullshit". You name him as a friend of Hitchens, but don't point out that he has seriously criticised Hitchens.

To compare him to Steven Glass or Jayson Blair is totally libellous, and if was him I'd sue, and I will recommend that option to him but he is a free speech obsessive and tends to ignore this kind of crap.

He disagrees with his alter-ego about the Iraq War.

Johann and I have argued a million times about Iraq and I'm not defending him on that issue, but the reasons he supported the invasion were sincere and they were not "bomb the towel-heads" crap.

I mentioned litigation only to shock you into realsing that your words have consequences; I also made it clear that Johann is a free speech nut and would never sue anyone. He responed to my e-mail about this article an hour ago and told me to forget about it but I don't think it is right to circulate flasehoods and, since you seem like decent people dedicated to teh truth, I appeal to you to correct the gross innaccuarcies in this article.

...It's frustrating to see a decent guy who works hard for left-wing causes being pulled down by his own side (using right-wing allegations!) because they disagreed with him on one issue.

And so on and so on. There are hundreds of edits like this. No wonder he didn't have time to write proper articles. It's the attention to detail that gets me. The sheer, prolonged, schizophrenic nature of the deceit. But that, once again, is not a problem for the Independent.


George Speller said...

"major cultural figure"? Never heard of the tosser.

John Pickworth said...

Johann Hari?

Yeah, I was kinda aware of him. I even tried reading a couple of his articles... and to be honest, I didn't feel the magic.

Sure I'm unlikely to be receptive to his message but then the same could be said of Tony Benn in his day but he'd leave me spellbound. No I'm sorry, Hari had that way about him similar to that Toynbee woman; where you'd read half his text and wonder what flippin' planet he was on?

HerMelness Speaks said...

Sorry, can't stop, I hear they're interviewing at The Independent. Whaaayy, I'm in!

Muggins said...

Interesting this: you can compare wiki pages before and after edits and here is his edit of Niall Fergusson's page:

Hari has added a LOT of stuff about his own accusations against Fergusson. A dreadful misuse of wikipedia...

Anonymous said...

the independent is a joke for employing this weirdo

Anonymous said...

The trolling is proffessionally embarassing, bitchy and self absorbed. Most of all it was very stupid - but not criminal. Some perspective is mportant here.

I think he can learn his lesson on that front and Im prepared to forgive if his apology is sincere and acted on.

The misuse of quotes seems more like a lapse of proffessional standards rather than 'plagarism' in the classic sense. this is not a Jason Blair scenario by any stretch. I think the harm from that is much less - and that the people concerned didnt object to the content is an important observation. Stupid again, and lessons learnt. not criminally stupid though.

One problem here is that, regardless of ones views on his politics, he remains an excellent writer in so many ways, and someone with great conviction. Both of his 'crimes' seem to come from his passion rather than any more sinister intent. hes been an idiot and clearly realises it now hes been dragged from his computer in the sunlight.

He's rightly taken a massive hit from this - but it would be churlish to not hope he can emerge from it a better person and journalist.

The dancing on his grave by his political enemies is rather unseemly.

Chalfont said...

Shock horror. Left wing journo in use of Right wing journo's character assassination tactics - his crime? Using the internet instead of a newspaper!

Muggins said...

Doesn't matter whether he's left or right.

Wikipedia is not a place for personal vendettas. I'm well aware that many have used it for that.

There's a kind of dishonesty in changing the subject to talk about "right-wing journos". At least acknowledge his error.

And can you give some substance to your claims about "character-assassination techniques"? Would be interesting to know

Hanna said...

Anonymous is David Rose, right?

Anonymous said...

So Johann has been doing himself what most people and brands employ others to do on their behalf?

Mick said...


'The trolling is proffessionally embarassing, bitchy and self absorbed. Most of all it was very stupid - but not criminal. Some perspective is mportant here. '

Well you best get in contact with the defence team for the chap that just got sent down for trolling. And he wasn't even trolling 'live' people.

Horsemachine said...

The trolling is proffessionally embarassing, bitchy and self absorbed. Most of all it was very stupid - but not criminal.

If he can produce hard evidence to back up all the claims that he added to other people's Wikipedia biographies, he's fine - truth is an absolute defence against libel.

But if any of the claims is inaccurate, and if the person in question considers them to be professionally defamatory, it's a rather different matter.

Mind you, I doubt anyone would actually sue - why start an expensive court case to prove what everyone already knows about Hari's ethical standards?

Horsemachine said...

One of Hari's highest-profile Wikipedia victims, Cristina Odone, has responded - and she's not happy.

Although she seems convinced that some of Hari's alterations were indeed libellous, she doesn't seem inclined to sue (although she has threatened him with legal action in the past over something he wrote under his own name) - but she seems pretty certain that we haven't heard the last of this saga.

Herbert said...

Vile little man. I once knew someone like him called 'William Roberts' who hung around the voluntary sector accusing anyone who saw through him of 'homophobia'. It seems quite a common thing among a certain type of public schoolboy.

Anonymous said...

Hari may have difficulty if anyone tries to due: in his apology he admits that edits to wikipedia were done 'maliciously'.

A Wikipedia Editor said...

Johann Hari has confessed to using David Rose as a pseud to edit Wikipedia, but there were a lot more pseuds than just "David R" doing Hari work at Wikipedia, and some appear to still be active within the past few weeks. Can it be that Hari learned his lesson? Or did he just figure that the lesson was Don't Get Caught?

Anonymous said...

How anyone can still say Hari is a 'great writer' when we know for a fact that a large proproption of his interviews were purloined from other, obviously more proficient journalists?

His vicious and unfounded attacks on people he disagreed with and his bigging up of himself and his silly chums Toynbee, Monbiot et al all go to prove what he is.

A sad weirdo troll. He should either have resigned or been sacked.

His 'apology' is a joke.

tomsmith said...

"One problem here is that, regardless of ones views on his politics, he remains an excellent writer in so many ways, and someone with great conviction. Both of his 'crimes' seem to come from his passion rather than any more sinister intent. hes been an idiot and clearly realises it now hes been dragged from his computer in the sunlight."

Hi Johann

Anonymous said...

He's a propagandist - hence his casual disregard for truth and honesty.

The nasty and bizarre Wiki trolling is another matter entirely and something he needs to discuss in depth with his GP.

Anonymous said...

You guys are missing the obvious:

What does Hari have on the Independent that they cannot afford to sack him and have to support him in this way?

A Wikipedia Editor said... fact, I'm pretty sure that one of the editors now posting on the Wikipedia Talk page for the Johann Hari article (but not the JH page itself) is Johann Hari himself, using a different sockpuppet but still monotonously banging on the drum of "what Hari did wasn't really plagiarism".

A Wikipedia Editor said...

According to the rules of Wikipedia, speculation about an editor's "real" identity will get you blocked, banned, or deleted. This is how "David R of Meth productions" was able to flourish so long - anyone who directly suggested that he was Johann Hari, or who speculated too publicly about the coincidence of IP addresses and feuds, was banned.

Now I'm pretty sure that Zafio, who's mainly interested in editing Johann Hari's Talk page and who has a very similar writing style to "David R", is actually Johann Hari, back editing Wikipedia again. But that's not a topic of discussion allowable on Wikipedia.

Muggins said...

Very interesting - Zafio has denied everything. Keep us informed, do!

Christopher Snowdon said...

Having read the Zafio contributions, my view is that Zafio probably isn't Hari. The style of writing is less excitable and there are none of Hari's linguistic tics and misspellings ('teh', 'innacuracies' etc.). Ironically, I think Zafio is too good a writer to be Hari.

I could easily be wrong. I was very tempted to believe that David r was not Hari until Hari admitted it on Thursday. The deceit seemed too elaborate to be the work of one man. So what do I know?

Matt Wardman said...

Apropos of nothing in particular, I do believe that the chappie is an Oxford Humanities grad:

"This book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, was what made Johann Hari, columnist on the Independent and former New Statesman staffer, want to become a journalist. "I read that when I was 14 after I'd seen the documentary on Channel 4, and I just thought it was the most amazing book," he said. "Just taking something that seemed to be taken for granted - that this woman was a saintly, benign humanitarian - and exposing it as a complete lie."

He'd better start believing in miracles.

Ha-Ha-Hari was born in January 1979, so he read it 2 years before it was published.


Yonmei said...

It is a bit traffic-wrecky. One of the most indefatigable editors against the Johann Hari sockpuppet set, FelixFelix, got no credit for it then (and judging by comments being made to him by Wikipedians now editing the page, will get no credit for it even now David Rose has been exposed). Johann Hari got Felix blocked at least at one point for "maliciously" changing the text of one of Hari's self-reports of a dispute he'd had with another pundit, away from Hari's exact words to a shorter summary. Archived here.

Yonmei said...

Well, to get it on the record, I reported Zafio as one of the David R of Meth Productions sockpuppets, and he reacted pretty much the way I would have expected David R to react - with instant denial and a venomous attack on me.

I have no idea how sockpuppet investigations on Wikipedia work, whether there's anyone who actually looks at IP addresses and login patterns, but my guess is that there's more likely to be evidence that Zafio was one of the David R sockpuppets in the years pre-2011.

Zafio said...

Nah, I'm not Johann Hari. There is a sockpuppet investigation on my account right now, but I've nothing to worry about there. I'm not loving the process, but there is a restricted tool called Checkuser that allows a limited number of editors to check IP addresses. The results of this process is private. Unlike idle speculation on IP addresses and locations and so on
by biased editors, who can pretty much twist the facts anyway they choose. This is called outing: its a bit nosy and a bit nasty.

If the investigation on my account does go through Checkuser, I'm certain not only will none of my IP addresses match those of "David R", but there'll be no or virtually no *regional* matches either since 2007. I live and work quite some distance away from the Independent offices. My account is associated with no attacks or edits on Johann Hari's enemies, which is the really scandalous aspect of the sockpuppet issue.

Also, I identify as a (non-practising and cultural) Catholic on a Morrissey talk page. I don't think Hari identifies as a Catholic in any way whatsoever.

I do appreciate your comments on my writing style, Snowdon. When I was first accused of being a sockpuppet for David R (before Hari admitted their consanguinity), I was offended first and foremost as a writer...

Yonmei said...

Interesting. You see, from another perspective, if you are genuinely not David R From Meth Productions, Zafio, then what you should be worrying about that is that consistently, over several months, you convinced several people independently that you are Johann Hari, writing as a sockpuppet.

And that is something that would worry me a lot if it happened to me. The accusation would make me change my pattern of edits at once - indeed, after our first conversation, when you very creepily offered to meet, I took a break from Johann Hari and worked on a couple of independent pages.

Your "voice" simply doesn't come across as an independent voice. You don't appear to be interested in research or in encyclopedic writing or Wikipedia administration - from your very first entry, what you were interested in was making sure the Johann Hari page showed a hagiographic view. And that, above all, is what makes you look like a David R sockpuppet.

What's also telling is that although from your edits under Zafio you're pretty much a complete newbie, you definitely know more about Wikipedia policies than I do. That's something that would tend to happen if you had been regularly logging in and editing from other accounts. David R was editing at Wikipedia till March 2011.

Now, obviously, this conversation on this blog is only WP:OUTING if you are Johann Hari... so if you report me to the admins for discussing your real-life identity - again! - that'll definitely convince me you're Hari. And worried, no matter how careful you've been to login as Zafio from a separate IP address.

Also, I identify as a (non-practising and cultural) Catholic on a Morrissey talk page. I don't think Hari identifies as a Catholic in any way whatsoever.

As I noted on the admin board on Wikipedia, David Rose invented at least fifteen biographical details to "prove" he wasn't Hari. How many will you produce?

zafio said...

Among your many faulty assumptions here is the idea that my defending myself constitutes an admission of guilt in this case. I have presented my case very clearly here and elsewhere, and if it gets that far an investigation on Wikipedia will find no links between my account and that of David Rose. That is all. Please stop this harassment.

Yonmei said...

Zafio, I've been online for quite a while. I've seen this situation arise before:

Someone is accused of being a sockpuppet.

Situation A: That someone is not a sockpuppet, the coincidence of views and dates is just a coincidence.

Situation B: One person is posting under two different identities, for quite a legitimate purpose.

Situation C: That someone is really a sockpuppet: either (C1) for a joke or (C2) with serious intent to decieve.

Situation A people tend to react with bewilderment and amusement, and very promptly suggest that the administrator check the IP address, as the most obvious means of proving quickly that they're two different people. But Situation A people never care that much about the accusation, since successful sockpuppeting long-term is so difficult that over the long run, it will generally be easily proved false.

Situation B people generally quietly email the administrator to explain the situation, and the administrator then posts a notice to declare that it's been resolved to their satisfaction.

Situation C1 doesn't really apply - C1 puppeteers are generally quite happy to come out and laugh. Situation C2, real sockpuppeteers, when discovered (or discovery is hinted at) react exactly the way David R did and you are doing - by presenting circumstantial evidence of innocence, with public anger, with counteraccusations. Situation C2 people cannot afford to just sit back and let the "misunderstanding" clarify itself: they have to go on the counterattack, in especial - David R was very fond of this! - making accusations of harassment and trying to get the people who had spotted them blocked or blacklisted.

So, Zafio. You're claiming this is Situation A. Fine. Act like it is: relax. Long-term, you should be clear that your "voice" is easily distinguishable from David R's, that the kind of edits you make on Wikipedia will not in any way resemble David R's. Shouldn't you?

Zafio said...

Yes, and in fact I have made exactly such claims here and elsewhere. On this very page, I write that "There is a sockpuppet investigation on my account right now, but I've nothing to worry about there." That sounds quite relaxed. No connection will be found between my account and Dave r from meth productions (through, say, a legitimate ip check) because no such connection exists.

What I am considerably less relaxed about is harassment, attempts to intimidate me from editing Wikipedia, edit warring, insinuation, paranoid rumination, wikilawyering, and most seriously of all, the possibility, however small, that this reckless behaviour may lead to a compromise of my privacy.


Yonmei said...

Zafio On this very page, I write that "There is a sockpuppet investigation on my account right now, but I've nothing to worry about there." That sounds quite relaxed.

True. But on this very comment, you write that the sockpuppet investigation is harassment, attempts to intimidate me from editing Wikipedia, edit warring, insinuation, paranoid rumination, wikilawyering, and most seriously of all, the possibility, however small, that this reckless behaviour may lead to a compromise of my privacy and that sounds extremely unrelaxed. Not at all like you're Situation A Notasockpuppet with nothing to worry about. Sounds like Johann Hari panicking that he'll lose the ability to edit his bio page, after six years of being able to delete the bad and expand the good.

Zafio said...

I wasn't describing the sockpuppet investigation in those terms. I was describing your behaviour over a protracted period of time. I have no complaints at all about almost-instinct expressing his concerns through the proper channels. As a Wikipedia administrator has already advised you, a sockpuppet investigation was always the proper channel if you had concerns. I have no issue with the process you have started. Have you thought about asking an admin for a Checkuser?

Yonmei said...

You have been an editor at Wikipedia under one identity or another for six years now. I'm sure you hope to be able to continue editing your biopage, and perhaps even think that if you just stay away from the libellous editing of other people's Wikipages, you can continue to puff up your own biopage - which I think is the key thing that's consistently mattered to you most.

But that is the root of the problem. Sure, you could run Zafio for a while, also create another sockpuppet identity, maybe make a few changes to another page, etc, build up your flock of sockpuppets again. But this is what you really don't appear to understand: no matter how clever you are with IP addresses, you can't rid yourself of the telltale pattern of editing that betrays you as a Johann Hari sockpuppet.

That I think is what we need to make sure is clearly down in Wikipedia's records - the kind of thing that can be consistently expected of Johann Hari whenever he sets up a new sockpuppet in order to try to puff up his bio page, again.

Jonquil said...

And Zafio has deleted his userpage.

Hello Hari said...

I was wavering on the side of caution with Zafio. Then I read the Catholic/Morrissey bit that he referred to (see below) and I'm leaning towards the idea that he is now (thanks Zafio!). What I find Hari-esque about is the use of the personal to justify the political; David Rose has taught us that Hari would immediately pretend to be lapsed Catholic who categorises themselves as a Catholic in order to back up/win a petty point, whilst also indulging in a fair amount of pointless windbaggery and mock-offense about a very peripheral, minor issue (whether Morrissey is listed as a Catholic or not on Wikpedia). So, at the very least, Zafio is: i) someone who has repeatedly and rather senselessly tried to defend/whitewash Hari's wiki page; ii) as pompous and petty as Hari; and, iii) knows a huge amount about Hari's life. It's not a slam dunk but, if it was say, 10-1, I would probably put a £100 on it at this stage. Though I am also aware that part of me wants Hari to be Zafio just to make this whole saga even more fascinating:

"...I find this odd; all biographies of Morrissey state that he was brought up in a working class Irish Catholic family in Manchester (or thereabouts, see Places section below). This isn't a matter of what his relationship to the Catholic church is now; as the man himself might say, its in the blood, and an unexceptional and ineradicable facet of biography. So why should any such suggestion be "aggressively removed"? Its clearly not a slur. And the notion that one has to be a practicing catholic to actually be one (and thus "merit inclusion in the category") is an odd position. Few of my catholic friends, nor myself, practice or even believe particularly; but indeed catholic is what we are...."

Augustine said...

I'm not wholly sure. He doesn't seem to write in David R's or Jessica's style. Plus, unless I missed it, he's not defending Johann Hari here, which is what Johann Hari tends to do.* Plus, given all this suspicion, it would make more sense for Johann to ditch the Zafio identity and create a new one who didn't have the "suspicious" editing history nor the SPI case against him. Also "Jessica" hasn't come to the blogs to protest her innocence or non-Johann-ness, but Zafio has.

I don't really think there should be such a witchhunt now. Maybe as a compromise, Zafio could agree to stay away from the Johann Hari wiki page, and others could stop denouncing him on blogs.

* I still can't believe I have to talk about him in such a way. Feel sick. If if IS you, Johann, don't you feel ashamed reading what people are saying about you here?

Hello Hari said...

I know my comment above isn't water-proof and I might be being over-zealous (I think it's the way Zafio's Catholicism is only - rather handily - found/revealed in the last sentence). As such, I don't want to lead or distort any investigative effort into Zafio; there are clearly more thorough and effective investigators on here than me.

However, I think I might whack my £100 up to £250. Based on:

i) David Rose began editing on Wikipedia in October 2006.
ii) Zafio states ( that July 2006 was early in his history of editing on wikipedia.
iii) both Hari and Zafio are interested in Adele Mailer and the impact her life has on our views of Norman Mailer:

In July 2006, Zafio wrote (a posting using the identity '' but which Zafio explicitly later claimed credit for):

"...Morales made a full physical recovery, in 1997 she published a memoir of their marriage entitled ''The Last Party'' which outlined her perception of the incident. This incident has been a focus points for feminist critics of Mailer, who point to themes of sexual violence in his work..."

In November 2007, Hari wrote:

"...When, years later, [Morales] told her story in the book The Last Party, the reviews slapped her down. They called her "whiny", "a shrill lush", and "nauseating"...But Mailer's misogyny infests his work. As the feminist writer Kate Millett pointed out, his 1965 novel An American Dream "is an exercise in how to kill your wife and be happy ever after"..."

Now, there are some differences in description (Hari says Adele "never really recovered" and lists her subsequent physical ailments; whereas Zafio says she made a "full physical recovery") and layout. But both Hari and Zafio have an intimate understanding of Norman Mailer, Adele Morales and feminist critiques of Mailer; both also stress that they can admire the artist whilst deploring the actions of the (deeply flawed) man. How many of you had heard of Adele Morales? I hadn't and I'm a highly respected climate change scientist who lives in Walthamstow...

Hello Hari said...

Fuck it, make my bet £500. If Zafio wants to bet against me, I'm up for it. Particularly if the following holds up; my (possible) Columbo moment:

In Zafio's discussion with Jerzy (again:, Jerzy mentions that ''
is a "presumed-shared academic IP" and Zafio says that "very shortly" after 30 July 2006 (when the edit was made) he "left said institution". If you look at the history of '' you could make an educated guess that it relates to Edinburgh University. The 500-or-so entries are clearly by numerous students and cover a vast range of topics but the Edinburgh University wiki page crops up routinely and the changes to it are mostly minor points of detail (the sort you might change if you were at the Uni yourself; for example, one edit in 2004 adds this: "...Students at Edinburgh are represented by the Edinburgh University Students' Association, EUSA, which was founded in 1889 and comprises the Students' Union and Student Representative Council (SRC). There are union buildings at Potterrow, Teviot House, Kings Buildings and Holyrood Road...").

Can anyone guess where Johann D. Rose Meth Hari was on 8th August 2006 (i.e., "very shortly" after 30th July)?

Not Glasgow. Not London. Not Paris. But:

Edinburgh. See:

And he's been there at least at least a few days, because he's seen a few plays and had time to write copy on them. So it doesn't definitely place him on Edinburgh on 30th July 2006 but it puts him there at a very similar time and anyway, Zafio by his own admission suggest he was there a bit after 30th July.

How plausible is it that Hari could have used a mate's computer at Uni whilst up in Edinburgh and still settling in and, retrospectively, pretended (as Zafio) that he studied at Edinburgh Uni, rather than explain that he's a high profile journalist working for the Independent? Or am I barking at proverbial windmills? I know Augustine thinks I should leave it but I want some critique from you peeps of what I've referenced above.

I'm happy for any of the above to be shot to pieces by people who are more tech/web savvy than me; I just thought I would put my raw thoughts on here.

To recap: i) Zafio and Hari start using Wikipedia around the same time in 2006; ii) Zafio and Hari have a similar hectoring style, which cries slander at the earliest possible opportunity; iii) Zafio and Hari have both tried - systematically and against the balanced evidence over a several year period - to make Johann Hari's wiki page more flattering; iv) Zafio and Hari both have developed views on Norman Mailer, Adele Morales and related feminist critiques; and v) both were in Edinburgh - by the most conservative estimate possible - within 7 days of each other in 2006.

Zafio said...

I'll take the bet alright. But think about the implications of this. If Johann Hari was to take such a bet and lose, he'd pay your £500 with the last money he'll ever have made from journalism.

Close, Columbo, but no cigar.

This isn't fun any more, and hasn't been for some time. The accumulation of coincidences here is so bizarre that my declaration in David Allen Green's "Who is David Rose" that the whole imbroglio was a theatre of the paranoid and absurd is taking on the appearance of prophecy. Much like a Norman Mailer novel.

Your first question to answer: If Johann Hari was Zafio, why would he draw attention to a date and location to which he can be so plainly connected? He'd be handing you his arse and career on a plate.

My identity is dangerously close to being outed here, but I still think this can be avoided. Please keep discussions to the Wikipedia site, as this is the appropriate place to settle these matters.

I am willing to make private motions to Wikipedia admins, by email, of my true identity and with supporting evidence that I am not Johann Hari. I will also ask that a Checkuser be done on the accounts of Zafio and David R, where it will be confirmed that Zafio's edits are consistently made from quite different locations from those of David R. This should conclude the matter.

But be it said, if push comes to shove I won't allow Johann Hari to be hung by these bullies and louts, just to keep my name out of the papers.

Hello Hari said...

With all that in mind, read this (it's got me up to a £1000 now):

Which finishes with this classic bit of 'pretending to be fair-minded but actually mainly bolstering David R's position':

"...given some of the attitudes to the subject expressed in previous discussion, I don't blame Dave r for being protective. I think he should continue to contribute to discussion and editing; I also think he might relax some of his positions in the interests of consensus..."

Zafio said...

I'll accept the bet at £1000. But lets not resolve this here, for fucks sake.

You're gleefully trying to destroy a man's career. You will be proven wrong, one way or another.

Mooey said...

Apologies, Zafio, I didn't read your response before upping my bet (bad form given that the latest bit I've added only adds colour rather any specific evidence).

If you're not Johann Hari, then I'm deeply sorry for nearly outing your identity and I have to say you've been outrageously unlucky with how this all looks. I hope all the steps you take clear this up once and for all and you can get on with your life. However, if you are Johann Hari, then I'm obviously rather sad and shocked that you're still doing this. Either way, something rather unfortunate has happened and I feel slightly bad about some of my glibber comments above (was slightly excited by the discovery aspect of it and got a little carried away). Also, either way (i.e., if you are or aren't him), Hari is someone you need to stop defending online. He's lied (in his journalism, on wikipedia and in the mendacious 'apology' when this first broke), bullied and generally acted in a way that has undermined ALL of his journalism, in my eyes. I'm a left-winger but, like Tom Chivers, won't trust a word he writes again, unless he systematically highlights what he did, why and when over the last 10 years. Otherwise, you just can't trust his word.

I sincerely hope (but am, to be honest, not convinced) you are not him. Godspeed in proving all my instincts wrong.

Yonmei said...

In summary: Before July 2011, the Zafio account added 2948 words to Johann Hari's Talk page, and 682 words to every other Talk page he was ever on.

The only other page besides Johann Hari's that the Zafio account has edited regularly is Norman Mailer's, and most edits there are those insisting (even over the objections of Mailer's daughter, who shows up rather sadly at one point) that an anecdote from "The Last Party", referenced to an article by Johann Hari about Norman Mailer, that the material the Zafio account added from Johann Hari's article should stay on the page.

No matter how sure I am of winning, I don't take bets more than I can afford to lose, but I'd certainly stake a tenner that Zafio is Johann Hari.

Yonmei said...

Augustine: Maybe as a compromise, Zafio could agree to stay away from the Johann Hari wiki page, and others could stop denouncing him on blogs.

Back in July 2011, when the Zafio account started editing the Johann Hari Talk page again, I looked up Zafio's edit pattern and thought,just from the edit count this guy is either a newbie who doesn't realise how this looks, or a sockpuppet. According to Wikipedia's rule of Assume Good Faith, I went with the newbie theory, and suggested Zafio start editing other pages than Johann Hari and maybe ask to be adopted by a more experienced editor.

I got back total hostility from Zafio, and persistent accusations that I was "harassing" him and trying to stop him from editing Wikipedia.

Having looked more closely at Zafio's pattern of edits, including subject matter, I don't see what Zafio would do on Wikipedia if he refrained from editing Johann Hari/the Talk page - his only other consistent interest is getting material from a Johann Hari article attacking Norman Mailer, onto the Norman Mailer page. Which is what David Rose and the other sockpuppets used to do when not editing Johann Hari, except with living targets.

Still, your suggestion is an extremely good one, and if whoever is editing Wikipedia as Zafio has even a modicum of common sense, they'll take it.

Anonymous said...

Zafio, you say

"I will also ask that a Checkuser be done on the accounts of Zafio and David R, where it will be confirmed that Zafio's edits are consistently made from quite different locations from those of David R. This should conclude the matter. "

How do you know the locations of David R? As I understand it, the IP address will be hidden from all but the admins with Checkuser privileges.

Unless you had knowledge of the IP addresses David R used, then you cannot make this statement.

Do you have this knowledge?

Jack of Kent said...

Hi Zafio

I am a lawyer who understands the nature of strict confidentiality, and I am also a journalist who protects sources.

If you were to, in the strictest confidence, provide me with any information which allows me to vouch for who you really are, then I am happy to assist.

Up to you.

My email is

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Zafio, your defenses on here have been both weak and maddening and, frankly, are like someone actively trying to sound as much like David Rose as possible.

Your defences are:

i) (to paraphrase) "...why would I say I'm Catholic, when Hari isn't?" Well, Hari has lied about pretty much everything (particularly when sockpuppeting), so pretending to be a lapsed Catholic to win a point about Morrissey seems very fitting with the established MO. Also, Hari has a pronounced interest in Catholicism, as proven by much of his journalism.

ii) (to paraphrase) "...all my IPs are different to David Rose..." As stated above, how do you know this? Also, this is something that is very easy to manipulate. And, if Hari was going to sockpuppet, he would probably go back over his old (numerous) wiki editing identities and pick one where he's sure he'd been careful to disguise/hide his IPs.

iii) You ask: "...If Johann Hari was Zafio, why would he draw attention to a date and location to which he can be so plainly connected? He'd be handing you his arse and career on a plate..." This is a Hari-esque manipulation of what happened. You didn't draw attention to the date, someone else did after doing a bit of digging. It was a trace left accidentally years ago, before this all kicked off. And if you don't think Hari's arse and career are on a plate, then you obviously haven't got a very clear-eyed view of the position Hari is in. Which rather chimes with Hari's recent 'apology' (yes, I now confess that I did what you all proved that I did two months ago).

Finally, you've not explained why you're so obsessed with Hari and maintaining his reputation. Do you simply revere him as an amazing journalist? If so, have you not been rather let down by everything that has come out? Why, like proven JH sockpuppets, do you fight for the removal of the Private Eye allegations, for example? Do you know Hari personally? Have you studied him? Do a Norman Mailer course with him? I'm sure you can provide some explanation, without either accusing everyone of being "bullies and louts" (surely Hari is the biggest online bully in this whole game?) or jeopardising your identity? No? Or try the Jack of Kent route. He seems like a noble and genuine person, so why not get him to help you out?

Zafio said...

I have contacted Jack of Kent. I know about David R's IP addresses from here

Jack of Kent said...

I can confirm I have had a message from someone claiming to be Zafio.

Doing some checks.

SamuelSpade said...

I have no doubts that Zafio is Hari/David R.

Augustine said...

Yonmei: "I got back total hostility from Zafio, and persistent accusations that I was "harassing" him and trying to stop him from editing Wikipedia. "

OK, I'll go back to the talk pages and read Zafio's parts. But I did think that Zafio's angry reactions here and elsewhere seemed different from David R's angry reactions on the talk page. Reading David R (and Jessica/thelion)'s arguments with Felix over being sockpuppets, David/Johann/Jessica distinctly comes across like a spiteful child who knows he is guilty and so is a little too "loud" about it in his denials and goes on the attack. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but the way he brings it up far too often, insisting on apologies from Felix (even at times when Felix isn't pointing out the sockiness) is very artificial, and he brings it up far too often, insisting on apologies more than an innocent person would. As he knew he was a deceiver, he goes to excessive lengths to make people think he isn't. But I don't really get the same vibe from Zafio...still, maybe Johann has... matured at last... in his deception skills. Whatever the truth, I think it's reasonable for Zafio to agree not to edit it anymore. I don't see how he can still want to defend Johann!

Augustine said...

Dear Zafio,

Quote: "Your first question to answer: If Johann Hari was Zafio, why would he draw attention to a date and location to which he can be so plainly connected? He'd be handing you his arse and career on a plate."

Well, sadly, Zafio, as much as I'd like to believe you are not Johann, this isn't a good reason. I think Johann did slip up several times, and possibly deliberately so. I can't find it anymore, but about a month or so ago, I got round to reading the wiki talkpages themselves, and I noticed David Rose felt free enough to tell Felix he was off to LA that day, reminding him several times about it. Later, he said it was for a funeral, I think. But a week later, Johann's report on the National Review cruise from hell was published.

I have no idea when that cruise actually set out, whether maybe Johann's article was written long after he had taken the cruise and done his "research" onboard it, or if it was written immediately after he got off the boat. But I did find out that the cruise lasted about a week and left from California that year. Sadly I think it's all too possible that (rather like a kleptomaniac) Johann enjoyed the thrill of handing out little hints and remaining undiscovered. So I can fully believe that he would accidentally or even deliberately slip up re the Edinburgh sojourn.

Anyway, my question to you, Zafio...if you are NOT Johann, then I want to know how you feel about what he did. I was a fan of Johann. Not to the point of ever editing his wiki like you, let alone editing it so many times, but I loved his articles. I checked his webpage every day for a new article. I checked his twitter when he got one, even though I don't operate an account there. I'd never read a journalist or opinion writer whom I agreed with so much on almost every issue. I liked how he seemed to shun extremism from both sides, his moderatism, how he seemed so rational and value logical arguments. I assumed that his character could be seen through his articles and his opinions.

People don't like to believe their friends can do horrible things. He wasn't my friend, I never knew him, but I thought I knew him through his articles. When the allegations broke out, I defended him vigorously on various comment boards, annoyed at how people were treating the sockpuppetry as a certain truth when I thought Johann could never do such a thing, as it wasn't in his character.

Then I finally got round to reading the wiki talk pages for myself rather than just glancing at quotes. And I was horror-struck, because the stylistic tells of a sockpuppeteer were all there. Everything David R wrote to Felix and to "Jessica" and others made me cringe, because there was too much ugly, artifice there. It was unnatural.

When Johann finally "confessed to being David R" (not that you would know it from that "apology"), I felt furious, sick, angry. Betrayed as well, even though it was my fault for assuming that because someone held admirable opinions, they must also have a decent character. How do you feel now, Zafio? You are obviously a far greater fan that I was. And you were involved in the wiki talk at the same time as Johann was pretending to be David R. You must feel pretty sick about it all.

Let's forget about the plagiarism and embellishment issue for a moment, let's even forget about what he posted about Odone and others, as you may believe they deserved it. I want to know what you think about the deception. How he angrily kept demanding apologies from Felixfelix for daring to accuse him of being a sockpuppeteer. How he chatted to himself as Jessica, leaving messages for her. How he faked an email written from himself to himself.

Augustine said...

I won't quote the fake emails here, as this comment is already too long (sorry for the length!), and they are just too cringeworthy to read. But as you know, he faked a chatty email from "Johann Hari" to "David Rose" to get an unflattering picture removed. He pretended he had had to cut bits of the email out, as they were personal between himself and...himself. He pretended the picture was not of him, when it clearly was. He talks of phoning Johann, of not being able to reach Johann because Johann is on holiday (look at us, we are so totally two different people!!!1111).

And he did not just start this deception to remove some false facts from his profile. He did it to turn his page into a huge self-promoting advertisement, unbelievably long, making his opinions seem far more relevant than they were. From reading what David R wanted to do with the page, you would think Johann Hari was an emininent philosopher in his spare time, Britain's greatest campaigner against nuclear disarmament, and other issues.

Like Felixfelix said at one point, it read "like a love-letter to Johann Hari." And it was all done by Johann. Ironically enough, this wiki page was how I first heard of him, around 2007 or so. I think I found it through the Richard Littlejohn page, read the nasty bits edited in by David_R which linked to Johann Hari. The wiki page was full of links and references to everything Johann Hari had ever written and said, every diatribe he had ever made against people I didn't like such as Littlejohn or Melanie Philipps.

And I also was impressed by its huge size and the fact that his opinions were apparently important enough to get such a mention. I thought he must be a very prominent figure in the media and politics.

Now I know that is exactly why he edited his wiki page. To promote himself like that. If only I'd read the talk page then. Now I look at it and I see so much spite, malice, and immature childish deception and obsession. A friend of mine said Johann must be crazy. I find myself wishing he did indeed have some sort of mental problem, because that could excuse the trolling. Instead, I'm seeing him as a vindictive, manipulative, deceitful and worst of all, INCOMPETENT, sockpuppeter.

I read how Stephen Fry said Johann's apology is so "courageous and honest". I don't know how he could type that with a straightface. There's nothing courageous in writing (such a mealy-mouthed) apology
1) when you've already been outed 2) when your boss forces you to in order to save your job.

Perhaps it could have been brave if he'd confessed to Felixfelix the truth during their arguments a couple of years ago. And "honest"? Jesus. We are looking at years of utter deceit. How can you read about the fake girlfriend, the fake emails, the fake alibi with the Lenin's Tomb writer and still respect Johann, Zafio? I have no more respect. I just feel disbelief, shock, and contempt. I feel them all the more strongly because of how much I used to admire him. I admired someone who clearly didn't exist. And you, Zafio, who admired him enough to edit the wiki: tell me, are you still really defending him now?

If you are Johann after all, I don't think I need to say anything more than the above. You obviously don't feel sorry at all, and that makes me more sadder than I can say.

Thriding said...

Zafio's first ever edit on Wikipedia (Nov 2007):

I wonder if a fresh perspective might be useful? I stumbled upon, some months ago and quite by accident, the dispute over this page

The first edit by Thelionforreal, a Hari sock, on Wikipedia (Oct 2006):

I've just stumbled across the Johann Hari entry which, as a reader of his work since his first pieces in the New Statesman, seems to me to be balanced and accurate

Both of them were made on the Johann Hari talkpage

Johann Harry said...

SamuelSpade - Do you think JH is currently using a wi-fi spot at a Cafe Nero in a trendy part of east London, desperately trying to muster a Zafio, then? He needs someone who graduated from Edinburgh Uni around mid-2006, is obsessed by/deeply knowledgeable about Johann Hari, has a sound knowledge of Norman Mailer/feminist critiques of him, is a lapsed Catholic and has no traceable links to Johann Hari.

Or am I being a fantasist?

Augustine said...

I hope he isn't doing that. Then again, who knows how he got "David Rose" to meet Lenin's Tomb? It's just insane.

Jeremy Duns said...


Surely Zafio can clear this up very fast by simply video Skype-ing someone. They don't even need to reveal their name, as unless they're well-known nobody would recognize thei face - just realize they're not Hari. A couple of quickfire questions on what they have edited to make sure they're not someone Hari has paid twenty quid to impersonate them, and mystery is solved.

My suspicion is that Zafio will find a reason for this not to take place, because they are indeed Johann Hari. Before Hari admitted to being David Rose, several people pointed out that some people did indeed feel very strongly about people, enough to defend them on Wikipedia for years on end in tedious detail. Now we know Hari is Rose, that idea seems a bit thin. In truth, I doubt anybody is enough of a Hari fan to spend a huge amount of time defending Hari on Wikipedia in this sort of detail apart from Johann Hari. So I suspect Zafio is Hari... but as I say, this is pretty easy to clear up in a matter of minutes with a video call on Skype.

Yonmei said...

Jeremy, I agree, though not everybody has Skype even these days (still, I don't, but I know three people and two cybercafes where I *could* Skype a call if I wanted to, no questions asked: and if Zafio's connected with Edinburgh University, in any way at all, he undoubtedly knows many more people than three. So I'm not necessarily expecting an answer tonight, but if Zafio isn't Johann Hari, I fully expect that this will all get cleared up within a few days.

Irrelevantly to the sockpuppet investigation - since it happened too long ago to be worth calling evidence - I think that I have found Johann Hari's first ever edits of his own Wikipedia page: 23:00, 22 October 2004. Interestingly, very early on (in 2004 - 2005) several anon IP addresses add a large amount of material, very laudatory, directly from Johann Hari's own autobiography, which is then summarily blanked by signed-in editors. I think Johann Hari was editing Wikipedia well before he realised that the best way to keep his material on the page was to get himself an editor login or two ... or three ... or four ...

Augustine said...

@Yonmei. Oh, but Johann seems to believe that editing wikipedia is a waste of time:

I only came along to this page after Felix started imposing a hateful agenda on it. If he agreed to a pact to never touch this entry again, I would happily do the same. Frankly, I have much better things to do with my time, and Johann has urged me to do them and forget about it. (Far from "getting me to write it for him", Johann said he finds it touchingly hilarious that I care enough, on one of the three brief conversations we've ever had about this entry.) DavidR81.129.156.202 18:03, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

That is just...creepy.

SamuelSpade said...

Such an elaborate web of bullshit was weaved:

"I've never hidden the fact that I'm friends with Johann Hari, as anybody who read through the discussion on this page will see. Actually, there were far more extensive criticicisms of Hari in this entry - accusing him of being soft on paedophiles, for example, which is enought get a brick through your window where I live."


"Ooooooooooooooooooooooooh. Thats SO Johan Hari! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:23, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Errr, no, it's me. I've given my contact details in the archive so you can verify my identity as a (very) different person...David r from meth productions 13:13, 7 November 2007 (UTC)"

Zafio will either disappear or be revealed as Hari shortly.

Augustine said...

Very elaborate. Did you spot the time he actually got someone to apologize for accusing him of being a sock, and he graciously accepted the apology?

There is so much hypocrisy and vanity. I stopped counting how many times he praised himself for his awards, and if I put them in here, I'd go over the comment length again. So I'll just add the other ones that made almost choke:

It is clearly slanderous to falsely accuse Hari of editing his own wiki entry (and bizarre too, since I imagine he has better thigns to do than post critical things about himself!), so I have deleted that too. Wiki has strict rules about libel.
David r from meth productions 14:42, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Felix, please do e-mail me at and I can send you my phone number so we can talk and you can be assured that I am real and not Hari (I am five stone lighter and ten IQ points lower for a start). Either way, you should stop casting aspersions on me and on Hari, as Charles suggests
- Dave

I wish you would stop implying I am somebody else, it's tedious Felix. I'm a fan of Hari's, like lots of people, and I am correcting errors/distortions etc."
- Dave

I am not going to engage with you, any more than I would engage with a nutter yelling insults at a bus stop. I regret I assumed you were a rational and sane person for so long, and I have no doubt you can only abuse the wikipedia system for so long before you are booted off. I feel sorry for you really.
- David R 17:45, 10 January 2007

He is determined to impose his view that Hari is "a self-publicising careerist, and an especially unpleasant one at that" into this article, and it's not on.
The argument that "hari sin't important, he only deserves a paragraph" is rather undermined by the fact Amnesty thinks he is the best journalist in the country etc etc

-DavidR81.129.156.202 17:52, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

From the "email from Johann":

Love & I owe you a pint

-David r from meth productions 12:49, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

Augustine said...

Hari wasn't angry at being fact-checked. As you can see if you check out his website, he links very often from his website to blogs that fact-check him and acknowledges his errors swiftly. He was instead angry at a smear-job by a writer who fabricated the claim that he has "a reputation for makign things up", when he is in fact a highly scrupulous and careful journalist who has been given awards for his close and detailed reporting by bodies with a repuation for thorough fact-checking.
-David r from meth productions 00:36, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

But Hari doesn't lie in his journalism his response, and any basic analysis of who is spreading this smear and why, shows overwhelmingly that this claim is untrue, which is why the allegation was withdrawn by Harry's Place, and why even Private Eye had to humiliatingly print a letter showing they were lying and had disgracefully hidden their confolict of interest by allowing Cohen's best friend to write about this without even mentioning that fact. Far from being as liar, Hari has been given awards for his scrupulous and highly factual reporting by experts in their respective fields. For example, Amnesty International, which is the gold-standard for fact-gathering about human rights abuses, called him the best journalist in Britain.
- David r from meth productions 20:53, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Eh? You can e-mail Hari to verify this e-mail is from him via his website. Are you suggesting Hari is lying? That's a pretty serious charge.
David r from meth productions 12:49, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

and last but not least:

You know you are lying; I don't know how you can do this with a straight face. Don't you feel embarrseed to do this?
-David r from meth productions 21:09, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Johann Harry said...

Three things:

Zafio is Spanish for 'oafish/boorish'.

That IP address definitely resolves to central Edinburgh, so Edinburgh University seems to have been the right educational establishment (Jack of Kent should know this for his clearing process); I don't feel bad about mentioning this as Zafio said that he went there; he didn't specifically name it but the IP address is there for anyone to easily resolve and it's no longer an active IP address (at least on wikipedia). Also, a LOT of people graduated from Edinburgh in 2006, so his real identity (ahem) seems pretty safe to me. I bet about 20% of them were lapsed Catholics. Though of those, probably only around 0.5% were well-versed on Norman Mailer. Still, IMO, be very very very difficult to identify anyone from that info. So he or she is quite safe.

The following also still bothers me from Zafio:

"...I'll take the bet alright. But think about the implications of this. If Johann Hari was to take such a bet and lose, he'd pay your £500 with the last money he'll ever have made from journalism.

Close, Columbo, but no cigar..."

It doesn't make any sense. Why would Hari take the bet, knowing that he is Zafio? Also, if Zafio isn't Hari (as Zafio insists) then Hari losing his money really isn't the implication of the bet. The implication is total vindication AND money for Zafio (IF Zafio is telling the truth). Or am I just wasting my time trying to see some rational thinking behind all this? Again, it seems like a classic Hari-style use of over-emotive language/imagery in order to shift emphasis and distract from the real argument. Also, why is it a bad thing that he stops earning money from journalism? I think it would be a positive step, for a free, fair and transparent press, which at the minute, Hari represents the total opposite of. Until he studies Don't Be A Massively Arrogant Wally 101 at Columbia, of course...

Jack of Kent said...


"Zafio" has provided me with a IRL name and a great deal of biographical information.

I have no doubt that the person named does actually exist IRL (by a coincidence which "Zafio" could not have anticipated, I happen to know someone the named person co-authored a paper with).

However, I am not yet able to say whether that named person is "Zafio" or whether this is an elaborate sockpuppet exercise.

There are a few more checks to make before I can form a view on the extent that I can (if at all) verify "Zafio" is actually that named person IRL.


Johann Harry said...

Thanks for the update, DAG. Glad that it's you trying to get to the bottom of this, as you always seems like a calm and rational voice on all this business.

zafio said...

Thanks to DAG for fact checking this. I have also asked for an arbitration on Wikipedia to check the IP addresses on all of Zafio and David R's edits. Lets hope that DAG's efforts and arbitration can, together or separately, resolve this.

Rob said...

I don't think it really matters whether Zafio is actually Hari or not. Zafio is clearly a single purpose account aimed at protecting Hari. It might be him or it could be someone he knows, either way he shouldn't be editing wikipedia which asks for a "Neutral point of view" which this person clearly does not.

Thriding said...

This comment on the Guardian site is a fine parody of the David R style:

I stumbled across this page while looking for something else entirely. Although I have no personal stake in this matter, I feel obliged to speak up.

Hadley Freeman clearly has a vile, animus-fuelled vendetta against Johann Hari. I’m very critical of Johann Hari myself , but whatever you think of him, you have to admit he is the greatest journalist recently working in Britain and the central figure of the Enlightenment.

These aren’t my words, they are the words of many respected journalists and other authorities I have emailed, although I have better things to do and only take a passing interest in this subject. There seems to be a general consensus that Johann – whom I personally disagree with on many issues – is the most respected hero of our age and the most handsome man of the century. For Hadley to accuse him of ‘self-destructive stupidity’ there can be no other explanation than that she is in the pay of the far-right.

Can we all agree to just remove this article from The Guardian now? I would hate to see Hadley discredited, tarred, feathered and banished just because she can’t see past her obdurate, bullying, nasty, outrageous, relentless, baffling, stupid, self-destructive, drunken, anti-semitic hatred of Johann.

James (Lurker25) said...

Thanks for realising it was a parody, Thriding. I'm not sure many people on CiF did.

Thriding said...

James - The moderator who deleted it after I copied it here certainly didn't....

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention his awards and his "youngest ever" award nominations. David R can hardly go a day on wikipedia without mentioning them.

Thriding said...

If you look at the second half of this version of the Hari talk page from 2007 you'll see Zafio and David R having a conversation. Play a little game with yourself: jump into paragraphs at random and try to guess which one, David R or Zafio, is writing.

Jack of Kent said...

Second Update on Zafio

1. Zafio provided me with a distinctive IRL name [AB].

2. There is at least one person IRL with the name [AB]. I can find three good examples (which appear independent) of a person named [AB] sharing the same interests as Zafio on Wikipedia.

3. Zafio also has three social media accounts under the name [AB]. I am satisfied that Zafio currently has control of at least two of those accounts, and probaly all three.

4. One of the social media accounts is well-established and provides information about [AB], consistent with Zafio's interests on Wikipedia.

5. Another of those social media accounts dates back to Jaunary 2009 and has been under the name [AB] since at least September 2009 (if not from the beginning). This account also provides information about [AB] which is consistent with Zafio's interests on Wikipedia.

6. Accordingly, Zafio has since at least September 2009 had one social media account under the name [AB] which appears consistent with Zafio's concurrent interests on Wikipedia.

7. Whatever the truth may be, these established social media accounts mean that Zafio is not a *crude* sock puppet of "David Rose".

8. My current view is that Zafio is either (a) [AB] in real life or (c) a very sophisticated sock-puppet of "David Rose" which has been a long time in the making and has taken a lot of effort to establish.

9. Therefore, I am not yet able to say that the Zafio on Wikipedia is or is not a sockpuppet.

10. I am now awaiting the results of a couple of further checks. These checks may be conclusive.

I must add Zafio has been very cooperative in this process.

Johann Harry said...


Thanks again for the update.

If it turns out Zafio isn't Hari/Rose, could you (DAG) please ask him - just for the record - why he's spent such a large proportion of his time defending Hari in the strident way that he has? I genuinely mean that in a calm and searching way (this whole saga doesn't need escalating), it's just that whenever Zafio has been asked about this, he has tended to fly off the handle a bit (a la Rose) and avoid the question.

If it isn't Hari, then I find his sockpuppet-esque behaviour much much harder to fathom. Hari would at least have something to lose; why has Zafio (if he's a separate entity) become so embroiled/emotional?

But then maybe I'm asking why don't people act more rationally on the internet, which is probably rather naive of me...

A Wikipedia Editor said...

It might be him or it could be someone he knows, either way he shouldn't be editing wikipedia which asks for a "Neutral point of view" which this person clearly does not.

Zafio has asked an administrator for help with this situation, and the administrator said that Zafio should "contribute" somewhere else on Wikipedia.

Zafio hasn't.

Jeremy Duns said...

Stranger and stranger, DAG! Is Skype really so difficult to set up, though, and failing that, why can't you simply talk on the phone? I think it would take two minutes to figure out if you were speaking to either Johann Hari or someone Hari had put up to it. That said, a video call would be easiest. Is there any reason Zafio can't just do that? It would seem a lot faster, easier and firmer than trying to determine if social media accounts are real.

It is interesting that it is so hard to establish whether or not Zafio is Johann Hari, as was the case with David Rose - I imagine it was only because there was an IP address linking back to The Independent that he admitted it, as The Indie wouldn't have known of anyone by that name. Someone who is capable of inventing people for his interviews out of whole cloth, as it is becoming clear to anyone not working for The Independent or The Guardian that Hari frequently did, is clearly capable of inventing someone like Zafio. I would also question why someone would be posting so much about Johann Hari on Wikipedia since 2007 if they had no skin in the game, as it were - I'm a fan of plenty of people, but I don't do that. But if Zafio isn't Hari, it also says something about how elaborate David Rose was as a sock-puppet. Outside of the error with the IP address, he would have been impossible to pin down with certainty as Hari, and was just as elaborate as Zafio.

Augustine said...

He was an extremely elaborate sock puppet given all the personal details Johann gave him, the lawyer girlfriend (see, he's straight, so he's not me -- Johann!) not being the least. And Johann even set up the Lenin's tomb blogger as a witness to David Rose's "existence". It's things like that which are obviously making people be extra cautious of Zafio. If Johann is capable of such intrigue and deception there, is he also capable of paying a real life friend to swot up on the wiki dossier and pose as "Zafio"?

I don't know. Zafio does seem to be acting differently than David R in terms of how he responds to the accusations. But he also has the classic edit history of all of Johann's sockpuppets. And as I said, I was a "fan" but it never occurred to me to create a wiki account and start editing his page, and in such a single-purpose manner. All of this is so weird.

(edit - the Anonymous above post was mine, forgot to tick the box)

Thriding said...

If the following is proved beyond any doubt not to have been written by the same narcissist as created David Rose I shall &c. &c.

Took a quick peek to see how things were getting on - clearly there's been some drama.

But, as we left it last time, there had been promise of compromise. I STILL find it hard to reason why the page, even as it stands, is regarded as so very slanted and POV. Clearly the Archer issue doesn't mass muster on any grounds whatsoever. But more generally, I'm still puzzled as to why other users consider this page as "egomaniacal" and "self-serving". And not simply because both adjectives tacitly insinuate that Hari himself is involved in the supposed puffing...

I've argued before that the article is essentially (that is, more or less) neutral. I'd also like to state my disagreement with SamuelSpade's claim that "most of the information contained in this page is not notable" - to say "most" seems to me very strong. Still, lets use your edit as a template for building a good article, as discussed in late 07. And for the anonymous user: I've argued, in agreement with SamuelSpade, that "Views on the Enlightenment" is a somewhat portentous heading for this paragraph. SamuelSpade's "Notable Secularist" heading seems much better. And, if you look back at earlier discussions, you'll find that Dave R has happily agreed to compromise on this. (Although, in terms of finer detail, I suspect he'll fight his corner strongly, as he has every right to do).

Still, I'm rather tickled that you think that an op-ed journalist's stance on enlightenment values (at a time when said values have a very interesting place in public discourse) is of little more consequence than his taste in yoghurt. You weren't being flippant, were you?

Augustine said...

But whoever Zafio is, he seems pretty confident that he will be found innocent of being Johann Hari...

Thriding said...

David Rose and Zafio have this in common: they both remind me of the narrator of The Debt to Pleasure.

SamuelSpade said...

LOL at 'The Debt to Pleasure'. That is so bang on - Johann Hari IS Tarquin Winot!

Jack of Kent said...

Third update on Zafio

This is a tough one.

I have not had the the responses to the further checks. I will make a comment here when I do (if I do). So this is perhaps an interim update.

Zafio has provided evidence of active social media accounts under the name [AB], and one of these in particular looks convincing as being that of a real person called [AB]. Zafio has shown he has control of these social media accounts.

Zafio has also provided a plausible and detailed explanation of his interest in Hari, which fits with the available evidence. He has also provided a lot of other biographical information, which I am not able to verify.

As it stands, I think the real identiy oz Zafio has to remain an open question (for now). If it is a hoax then it would be one significantly more elaborate than "David Rose" and in respect of an identity [AB] which is not even being revealed (as yet).

On the other hand, [AB] has a strikingly similar style of writing to David Rose, and a very similar tendency to deploy biographical details.

If I only had seen the information and materials provided to me by Zafio, I would say he was not "David Rose".

But if I only had Zafio's emails and other writings, I would personally say it was.

Subject to the results of my other checks (if I ever receive them), my current view is that the real identity of Zafio must remain an open question: the evidence neither for nor against is enough to rebut the other.

But Zafio certainly has an established alternative internet identity as [AB].

Sorry I could not provide a more conclusive response at this stage.

Johann Harry said...

As an aside, I wonder if Johann himself is reading all this. He must be. If he genuinely meant his apology in the Independent, he could help us all out by clarifying exactly which accounts on Wikipedia were his. In his apology he only mentioned a (singular) "...user-name that wasn’t my own..."; so, as it stands, he has only admitted to David Rose, not Jessica and the random IP addresses he appears to have used. Therefore his frank apology wasn't all that frank. Perhaps he could say which ones he used and then stake his reputation on the fact that he is not Zafio. That would save everyone a bit of time, particularly people like Yonmei, SamSpade and Felix who have spent so much of their time digging through his internet shit (which he sprayed all over the place) in the name of truth.

Go on Hari, throw us a bone.

Maybe (and I genuinely mean this) we could get in contact with his teachers at Colombia and ask them to set him a term project of writing 20,000 words on exactly what he did at the Independent (with extensive footnotes, naturally) and then publish it. I, personally, would - truly - find that enough penance for him to come back. We'd all now what was true or not and he could learn a genuine lesson in journalism. That if you ever lie, you have to go back an unpick it.

Finally, don't read this if you've got better things to do but I tried to do some digging after it emerged that Zafio had edited Clive James' wiki page. I didn't find any dirt (I don't think) but I did find this rather sad entry from James himself, describing his sadness at reading a Hari interview 5 years after the fact. I found it quite moving.

Para. 5, 6 & 7 of this:

Augustine said...

"Perhaps he could say which ones he used and then stake his reputation on the fact that he is not Zafio. That would save everyone a bit of time"

Sadly, if Johann were to defend Zafio, I think that would almost be the nail in the coffin for Zafio. And Johann has no longer any reputation with which to stake...

Graeme said...

I think it's pretty obvious that Johann Hari is suffering from some kind of personality disorder/mental illness.

He seems to have some kind of narcissistic personality disorder. Read this, especially the last paragraph. Does it remind anyone of Hari or is it just me?

Either way, it's got to the stage where I wouldn't put ANYTHING past him.

Johann Harry said...

From the narcissism website:

"...But punishment only verifies an unconscious recognition of deserved punishment and reinforces exploitive and unprincipled behaviors...."

Does that mean he'll get worse now?

Graeme said...

I find it far more likely that he will get worse and worse than him revealing a detailed list of every deceitful thing he has done and apologising in full.

Rob said...

"Zafio has asked an administrator for help with this situation, and the administrator said that Zafio should "contribute" somewhere else on Wikipedia."

The same admin who happened to block Felix-felix for making a 'faux-naif' comment on a talkpage. I can't remember seeing such an extreme block made without arbcom or community discussion (that isn't for bog standard vandalism).

The admin in question seems to have been a bit worried about it ( I think there's probably more to that block than appears on the surface.

A Wikipedia Editor said...

As of a week ago, none of the Wikipedia Administrators discussing the issue were at all aware of the seriousness of the problem. [WikiEN-l] Journalist admits socking on Wikipedia.

Thriding said...

Steven Poole has pointed out a Johann Hari sock leaping to JH's defence in the comments on SP's Unspeak article of 1 May 2007: Niko

Comment #1, Niko: "I also only knew about this post because of a link from hari’s website… which you have to give him some sort of credit for."

#12, Alex Higgins: "I feel compelled to comment on this, though with the declaration of interest that Johann is a friend of mine and we suffered through the film “Zizek!” together on a Sunday evening in his flat."

#13, SP: "Actually, you first came here from a Technorati search for “johann hari”. You must be a devoted fan of Mr Hari’s, constantly searching for mention of him on the internet, and dropping by here generously to inform us about his double first and digging up articles from his archive. Of course, the alternative, that you are in fact Mr Hari himself, is also amusing to contemplate…"

#16, Niko: "Er, I’m not Johann, as Alex H who has met me will attest. I noticed that Johann had linked to you and thought it was worth bringing up. I knew Johann often links to critical articles, so after seeing it on technorati I checked and, yes, tehre was a link there. A slightly convoluted story, so I said I’d followed the link to make my point."

#27, Alex H: "I give lessons, or more usually help give lessons, to six-to-ten year-olds"

#84, Niko: "I had quite a high opinion of you after reading your book Unspeak. I even bought it for a friend. i’m afraid my opinion of you has plummetted since you showed yourself to be snippy, evasive and frankly fucking rude."

#87, Niko: "Okay, my boss is giving me dirty looks, I had better get back to proper work."

This last, #87, is pure David R. Meanwhile, who is Alex Higgins? And does he know [AB]?

Rob said...

Yep, they clearly haven't looked at the IP contributions or the long term nature of the abuse. It seems they have just accepted Hari's 'apology' at face value without any further investigation.

Jeremy Duns said...

Zafio, is there any reason you can't settle this in a matter of minutes via free video conference software such as Skype? I'm happy to have a quick chat with you to confirm you aren't Johann Hari, and are not acting on his say-so. If you're not him or acting for him, I would of course not reveal your real identity. You can email me at

Tom said...

If the investigation on my account does go through Checkuser, I'm certain not only will none of my IP addresses match those of "David R", but there'll be no or virtually no *regional* matches either since 2007. I live and work quite some distance away from the Independent offices. My account is associated with no attacks or edits on Johann Hari's enemies, which is the really scandalous aspect of the sockpuppet issue.

Just to chime in here to this increasingly fascinating postscript to the Hari saga: note the attempt to tell us what the "really scandalous" aspects are of Hari's behaviour. It's curiously similar to Hari's apology, and while in a sense it's true, like the apology it misses what I think has upset many people. While I do think it's appalling that he slurred Nick Cohen, Cristina Odone and others, it's the bizarre scale of the deceit that's really so astonishing. The lengths gone to, the absolute outright lies told (all with a tone of moral outrage) reveal someone who nobody, surely, can ever trust again. It's absolutely laughable that the Independent can consider continuing to employ this conman; and yet Zafio, like Hari, seems to miss this point, and focus on the attacks themselves.

Zafio: how about you give the sort of honest critique of Hari that we all wanted from Hari's apology. Demonstrate to us that you get how humiliating these revelations are; acknowledge how ridiculous the barefaced lies, and the insane lengths gone to to conceal them, look now they've been outed. These are things I suspect Hari refuses to admit even to himself, so you'd be going some way to proving you're not him.

Unfortunately, I suspect you are. I'd add that if so, this should by all rights be huge. Because if Hari is still sockpuppeting AFTER his apology, and still engaging in complex online deceit...well, the hollowness of the apology will be undeniable.

Augustine said...

I wouldn't hold my breath, Tom. At least two things "Zafio" has said on this very page imply he STILL strongly supports Johann:

"if push comes to shove I won't allow Johann Hari to be hung by these bullies and louts, just to keep my name out of the papers."

"You're gleefully trying to destroy a man's career."

Jeremy Duns said...

Thriding, if Alex Higgins isn't real it would be the most extraordinary sockpuppet ever created, putting the woman in Catfish to shame. He writes for the Huffpo:

He mentions Hari as a friend in one of those articles, incidentally.

He has a Facebook page with photos of himself and plenty of friends and keeps it updated. He comments on sites, admittedly quite often about Hari and sometimes after Hari articles:

He is quoted in at least one Hari article:

As well as thanked by Hari in his acceptance speech for The Orwell Prize:

Note that Hari also thanks a Rob Blackhurst there. Rob Blackhurst is currently under suspicion of being a Hari sockpuppet on Wikipedia, but that is also the name of a British journalist who has written for several papers, including The Independent, and has been quoted in an Indie article by Hari - it's on his Wikipedia page:

He also has a Twitter account, a website, and shares a surname with the current owner of the Independent. So I think he's real.

Back to London scholteacher, activist and journalist Alex Higgins, though. He has a blog, though it hasn't been updated in ages:

Higgins also set up a Facebook page protesting the possibility of Rod Liddle taking over as editor of The Indie:

Note that that link is about Higgins busting Liddle for using a sockpuppet!

But, despite all that, I actually would not be massively surprised if it turned out that Alex Higgins was an alternate identityy Hari had created to allow him to go on all soerts of sites and comments as a friend of Hari's, with some web pages behind to prove it. Okay, I would be massively surprised - writing several Huffington Post articles seems just too crazy to consider anyone doing to establish an identity like that. But... I don't think it's out of the realms of possibility, frankly.

I think there's an awful lot of online activity Johann Hari hasn't copped to, and is hoping will never be discovered.

Zafio, I haven't heard from you yet. Any reason you've gone quiet?

Johann Harry said...

The irony of those two Zafio comments is rather striking.

Firstly, Hari was hung by BEING a bully and lout. Whilst a few right-wing nutjobs have got an immense amount of pleasure out of all this, THEY are not the reason he's been hung. He is.

Secondly, it was Hari's gleeful attacks on others which has destroyed his career. I think the only reason that any of us are even vaguely enjoying this is because: i) it's gratifying to see a shameless bully and egotist like Hari see some sort of restorative justice; and, ii) Hari hasn't admitted to everything, so he's left a sort of Columbo-style game, where, we all know he's guilty but we still have to piece together all the evidence.

Jeremy Duns said...

Editor, not owner, sorry! I'm guessing that Rob Blackhurst may be Chris' brother. If so, his editing of Johann Hari's Wikipedia page suggests they may be friends, which may in turn suggest why Blackhurst has been so lenient. But that's speculation - it may also simply be a coincidence, and there are two Blackhursts working in British journalism with links to Johann Hari.

Augustine said...

@Jeremy Duns

Just looked up how Johann quotes Alex Higgins. The quote sounds awfully like Johann's style.

“It’s because we broke the frame that people expect protest to be confined to. Suddenly, protesters were somewhere they weren’t supposed to be -- they were not in the predictable place where they are tolerated and regarded as harmless by the authorities. If UK Uncut had just consisted of a march on Whitehall [where government departments are located], where we listened to a few speakers and went home, nobody would have heard of it. But this time we went somewhere unanticipated. We disrupted something they really value: trade.”

At the very least, that's clearly an example of Johann "cleaning up" not-so-eloquent quotes by rewriting it in his own rhythm and style.

Confused of Cheshire said...

Zafio has made a response on the Wikipedia Sockpuppet Investigation:

"I can address some of this circumstantial evidence here. David Allen Green, as reposted from an off-wiki site belowe, writes that "Zafio has also provided a plausible and detailed explanation of his interest in Hari, which fits with the available evidence". I have supplied David Allen Green with evidence that shows my prior interest in subjects of at least two Hari articles, and that my interest pre-dates those articles. One of these prior interests is in issues relating to Hari's article on Mailer. Zafio (talk) 18:41, 22 September 2011 (UTC)"

Copied form here:

A very selective reading of DAG's investigation in my opinion.

Zafio said...

That post was merely to address a specific question of circumstantial evidence, it was not an interpretation of DAG's carefully worded statement. There have been a number of polite requests here for clarification on my part on this whole matter. In the circumstances, however, I will be restricting comment to the Wikipedia sockpuppet investigation.

Jeremy Duns said...

Any reason you can't simply clear this up in aboiut a minute via Skype's free video conferencing software? It would seem a lot easier than dragging it out in Wikipedia's pages for months on end, with no resolution either way.

A Wikipedia Editor said...

Zafio's comment on DAG's investigation at his Wikipedia sockpuppet page:

I can address some of this circumstantial evidence here. David Allen Green, as reposted from an off-wiki site belowe, writes that "Zafio has also provided a plausible and detailed explanation of his interest in Hari, which fits with the available evidence". I have supplied David Allen Green with evidence that shows my prior interest in subjects of at least two Hari articles, and that my interest pre-dates those articles. One of these prior interests is in issues relating to Hari's article on Mailer.

I don't think I've seen such a splendid use of meiosis in quoting someone else since the last exclusive interview Johann Hari did with George Michael.

Jack of Kent said...

Zafio's selective use of my carefully worded statement smacks of bad faith.

It is very disappointing.

Adding this selective use to the pot, I would like to now vacate my earlier statement about Zafio's real identity being an equally balanced open question.

My current view is that something is very suspect about whoever is operating the Zafio account here and on Wikipedia.

Vic said...

Continuing with lies and deceit, even when faced with discovery, is a key element of the coping strategy employed by those with narcissistic personality disorder. They see their lies as a part if their proof of their superiority. If one lie fails they will try another. Given that Johann exhibits every single symptom of a sufferer of NPD I would say that continued use of online personas to control how we see him, to allow him to triumph over his more feeble minded detractors, should be expected. I would say that it is highly likely that Johann is still using socks to support him online. It has been a far too important part of his coping mechanisms over the past few years for him to simply stop. Besides, he thinks that we are all stupid and can be fooled by his superior intellect.

John S said...

@Jeremy Duns

Rob Blackhurst is real. He has a fairly high profile on the London journalism scene, having been one of the main FT Weekend interviewers for a number of years. Doubtless one of his high-profile subjects would have clocked him as Hari if there was any resemblence at all.

He's of a different generation to Chris Blackhurst (mid 30s to early 50s). I have no idea if they're related and find it unlikely that this would be relevent.

None of this is to say that Rob Blackhurst the journalist is "Rob Blackhurst" the wikipedia editor. It's not been unknown for others to take the name of journalistic contemporaries for their alias.

I'm not going to go through the whole Stephen Poole comments thread again searching for it, but didn't Poole himself vouch for Alex Higgins in real life?

I think you've done good work here, but your spy-novel self is a little too keen to create red-herrings. There's plenty enough plot without them.

An interested party said...

It's interesting that david r from meth productions created rob blackhurst's Wikipedia page:

The page itself features a quote from Johann Hari:

Also, there's a rather unpleasant story about Johann Hari and a blocked toilet in this week's Popbitch email which, if it's true, would suggest that he's not entirely well.

Jeremy Duns said...

Hmmm.. I just posted somethign rather long and it seems to have disappeared. John S, read my post mentioning Rob Blackhurst - I state he is real in it. That was my point about him. He's under suspicion of being a sockpuppet, but he's real - rather a well-known journalist.

Johann Harry said...

DAG - have you still got ongoing enquiries that could clarify things? Or are we going to be left in a limbo, with Zafio just looking exceedingly dodgy but with no 'smoking gun'?

Augustine said...

@An interested party

I hope "Popbitch" or their source are making that up, because that's just gross.

If it is true, doesn't he have some family or friends who can take care of him rather than report such embarrassing anecdotes?

Jeremy Duns said...

I'll take it my other comment has been swallowed. For the sake of clarity:

I don't think Hari used the name 'Rob Blackhurst' as a sockpuppet. I think it's clear RB exists in real life, and is a friend and admirer of Hari (he mentions him on his site as such). Hari did use the name of another journalist as a sockpuppet, but David Rose is also a much blander name, and I just don't think Hari would be that stupid. So I think the Rob Blackhurst who edited Hari's page was the real Rob Blackhurst. Hari, as has now been pointed out, created Blackhurst's page.

I don't believe Alex Higgins is a sockpuppet of Hari. It's clear he's a real person.

But this means that at least two of Hari's friends/fans have edited his Wikipedia page, and so there seems to be some sort of backscratching going on. That could just be because they all rather like each other, or it could be an arrangement where Hari has asked them to.

But, fascinating as all this is, I think it is a bit of a distraction. The real scandal is not this or even the plagiarism. It's the fabrication. I was reading a report by Hari yesterday from Iraq, and his main interviewee is just obviously, for several reasons, invented. The same applies to many of his other reports, especially from foreign climes. A lot of the quotes are really emotional, often appealing directly to the Western liberal reader. I don't think The Independent has looked at this at all. But I think in time it will become clear that Hari has not just lied about the extent of his sockpuppeting and plagiarism, but that, like Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass, he spent years fabricating material for his articles.

My other post is going to turn up now, isn't it?

Christopher Snowdon said...


There's no comment from you in the Spam folder this time I'm afraid. I don't know what happened there.

I should mention to all involved in this most intriguing thread that I never moderate or delete comments. However, if your comment includes many web links and you're not logged in, Blogger is liable to automatically class it as spam. If that happens, and I don't spot it first, e-mail me on

Jack of Kent said...

@ Johann Harry

There are a couple of things I am waiting to check and, if there is information worth sharing, I will do.

Tom Young said...

@Johann harry

This, I think, is unfortunately precisely the most likely outcome: there simply won't be proof that Hari is Zafio, despite a strong suspicion. I think Jeremy Duns is right that Hari must only have admitted DavidR because of the IP address at the Indy thing; he simply couldn't sustain the fiction to people who actually work there.

By the way, does anyone know anything more about these supposed revelations still to come? There was a reference in Cristina Odone's most recent article, also some hints on some of these Wikipedia talk pages. Very intriguing, but I wonder why people are sitting on them if they're so sensational?

John S said...

@Jeremy Duns

I apologise for misinterpreting your previous post. It's a long thread, and by the time I got towards the end of it the distinctions between who was saying who was real, or fabricated, or a sockpuppet had become blurred.

I agree that Hari's ability to find the perfect quote from the perfect source within a non-Anglophone and uncheckable crowd has been uncanny.

Private Eye have been onto this for years, but it was only *after* the David R link (from the Nick Cohen Observer article, followed up by Cristina Odone)that yourself, Guy Walters and Brian Whelan made the plagiarism an issue. And the fabrication became an issue after that.

I actually think the Hari affair is even worse than Stephen Glass (which was bad enough) because it mirrors Glass only in the fabrication aspect. On top of that there's stealing other journalists' work (which Glass never did) and the creating of a new identity to cover your other actions (which Glass sort-of did, to "back up" his stories, but his efforts were unsophisticated and not used to seperately denigrate others). I beggars belief that the Indy have blundered into keeping him on.

An interested party said...

It's interesting that david r from meth productions created rob blackhurst's Wikipedia page:

The page itself features a quote from Johann Hari:

Also, there's a rather unpleasant story about Johann Hari and a blocked toilet in this week's Popbitch email which, if it's true, would suggest that he's not entirely well.

Thriding said...

For those who can't be bothered to plough through Popbitch's email: "It's good to hear that Johann Hari has decided to take a course in journalism if only because it means it'll get him out of the house a bit more. Visitors chez Hari have been subject to some rather icky sights. One friend who visited during one of his darker hours found the toilet full to the brim with shit. It was blocked, and obviously had been for a while, but that hadn't deterred him from continuing to use it." Replace the word "toilet" with "internet" etc etc

Jeremy Duns said...

Chris, thanks. Perhaps just as well!

Tom, I suspect it may be that nothing has come forward yet precisely because of the difficulty of proof.

John S, no problem, and sorry for inadvertently creating red herrings! It was a bit of a confusing post, I admit, as I went off on a tangent. I think you've got the chronology a bit off there, though. The DSG DSG blog and Brian Whelan's proof of plagiarism came first here, then Guy, me, David and others took it up some more. All that was in June. Nick Cohen's piece about sockpuppetry was in July, and came as a complete surprise.

I think the sheer extent of the plagiarism leads to the question of fabrication. If you take out the plagiarized quotes from the Malalai Joya interview, you are left with:

1. A few sentences about meeting her and saying goodbye.
2. Quite a lot of background about her life told in third person out of quotes, much of it also lifted vebatim or near-verbatim from her memoir.
3. All the body language stuff to mask the plagiarized quotes.

I don't think there's a single significant quote in the interview that wasn't plagiarized. The obvious question is 'Did he even meet her? And if so, for how long, and what really happened?'

I've gone through some of his interviews, as have others, and it's the same pattern in them all. But others I haven't written up include his interviews with Gerry Adams and Larry Flynt, both of which also steal all the juicy quotes from their memoirs in this way, and pad out with all the other stuff. I was naively hoping The Independent would go through his articles and look at all this, but it seems they haven't. Clearly Hari's 'apology' is total nonsense. It looks like he did this systematically.

Then you move on to his interviews with people who are not celebrities, and it gets much worse. It becomes very obvious where the joins are, and they are mostly, as you say, in too-good-to-be-true quotes. At the risk of my post combusting again, compare these two articles by Hari.

Full version available here:

And, from a week later:

They're essentially the same, except for the later version has front and centre an interview with an Afghan teacher. Her profession is very tenuously linked to the subject at hand - Hari argues that the drug trade fuels the Taliban and that means attacks on schools, so if drugs aren't legalized in Afghanistan this one woman will likely be attacked. It's that preposterous. His whole argument is a non-starter, because anyone who knows anything about Afghanistan will tell you that the legal trade in opiates will never be attractive because it can't garner the same profits.

But Hari manages to have it so that this teacher, about whom we know very little indeed, makes his precise point for him. How likely is it that Hari would ask this teacher what she thinks will happen if George W Bush's drugs policy does not succeed? How likely is it she would reply like this? '"My school will be destroyed forever." She pauses. "All women love their freedom. Who wants to be a prisoner and to be illiterate? Not Afghan women.... You promised you would not let this happen to us again. You promised."'

It's obvious fiction. And I suspect there are many more examples in Hari's articles.

Thriding said...

If "Alex Higgins" is actually Alex Higgins, and not just Hari and his multiple narcissisms, he needs to explain why, in 2007, after the Hari sock "Niko" said in comment #16 [see above] "I’m not Johann, as Alex H who has met me will attest", did he not, in comment #27, refute this

Tom Young said...

Love this, from Hari on a visit to Iraq in 2002:

If I didn't know better, I would swear that Saddam Hussein had deliberately scattered the most dignified, stoical Iraqis and - especially - the cutest doe-eyed children in our paths, and trained them to say lines riddled with pathos about sanctions.

It's amazing how his guilt creeps into his articles even then. Deeply ironic quote in the light of what we now know about his "interview" technique.

Graeme said...

The more and more I read about Hari, the more and more I am convinced he has narcissistic personality disorder. Consider this from


Vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with this disorder very sensitive to criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty. They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack. Their social life is often impaired due to problems derived from entitlement, the need for admiration, and the relative disregard for the sensitivities of others. Though their excessive ambition and confidence may lead to high achievement; performance may be disrupted due to intolerance of criticism or defeat. Sometimes vocational functioning can be very low, reflecting an unwillingness to take a risk in competitive or other situations in which defeat is possible. Individuals with this disorder have special difficulties adjusting to growing old and losing their former ?superiority?.


In this disorder, sustained feelings of shame or humiliation and the attendant self-criticism may be associated with social withdrawal, depressed mood, and Dysthymic or Major Depressive Disorder. In contrast, sustained periods of grandiosity may be associated with a hypomanic mood. Anorexia Nervosa, Substance-Related Disorders (especially related to cocaine), and other Personality Disorders (especially Histrionic, Borderline, Antisocial, and Paranoid) frequently co-occur with this disorder."

And also these basic diagnostic traits of Narcissism from

"An inability to listen to others, and a lack of awareness of another person’s deadlines, time frames, interests or perspectives.

An inability to admit wrongdoing - even sometimes when presented with objective evidence of their errors or behavior.

Coldness, or overly practical responses to interpersonal relationships; a sense of distance or matter-of-factness, emotionally.

Can be prone to severe bouts of anger, particularly if directions or orders are not followed.

Has the ability to write friends off forever, often over small or only ‘imaginary’ transgressions."

Can anyone offer a more educated opinion on his personality? I'm not a psychologist and I obviously have never met Hari. If Hari does indeed have NPD then none of his behaviour should come as a surprise. I agree with Vic's comment above. I fully expect more and more of this kind of behaviour.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of Alex Higgins, if he is real and a teacher, then he will be on the GTCE teaching register.

If, for any reason, the contributors to this thread are in touch with Alex Higgins they should ask him which school he works in, then a inquiry can be made to the GTCE

Horsemachine said...

On the subject of more revelations, it's probably worth noting that guests at this week's Private Eye lunch included Cristina Odone, Nick Cohen and, delightfully mischievously, Andreas Whittam Smith.

So it will be very very surprising indeed if next week's issue ignores the Hari story.

Lurker 25(James) said...

When you start looking systematically at Hari's archives, it becomes absolutely ridiculous that so many of his articles have been passed unopposed (as far as I'm aware - I realise that Private Eye flagged up some likely fibs a long time ago, but it doesn't seem to have been common knowledge that Hari's stuff included dubious material).

I imagine lots of people had, like me, read various of his articles without reading them back to back and seeing the improbabilities multiply.

There is so much frankly incredible material in there. I'm a bit detail-obsessive, but I really want someone to take the Hari archive on as a full-time job. Clear out the stables and find out exactly how much shite has been piled up, and where. I assumed The Independent or the Orwell Prize people were doing this, but clearly if they were they aren't going to publish their findings.

The odd thing is that he could have written better articles if he wasn't propagandising. It would be much more interesting to read a true account of him in Iraq, clumsily trying to find out what people think, honestly recording their reactions, than to read the thing he actually did come out with.

If you read his articles about depression, he mentions his lifelong habit of retreating into fantasies, and the fact that his anti-depressants have made him more combative and prone to risk-taking. That might explain some of what's happened - perhaps he should have gone into that in his apology, as well as actually explaining what he's done that he's sorry for.

I doubt that many people other than the Guido Fawkes commenters want to see him have a breakdown as Popbitch hint he might. People seem indignant at the scale and nastiness of the brazen lying, and the attempt to whitewash it. That's what I think anyway.

Thanks to DAG and all the other unsung truth-seekers mixed up in this saga. I hope the truth comes out in the end: 'The truth shall make you free,' as zafio, being a Catholic, might say. Sorry for the long rambling comment.

A Wikipedia Editor said...

Eye Spy Trouble:"Andreas Whittam Smith, the Church Commissioner brought in by The Independent to “investigate” Johann Hari, the paper’s resident plagiarist, came face to face on Wednesday with Cristina Odone and Nick Cohen, who both had their Wikipedia entries falsified maliciously by Hari.

Whittam Smith,
The Independent’s founder, has been accused of a whitewash after his inquiry led to Hari’s remaining on the paper, albeit after a few months’ journalism training.

“Before the lunch, we were warned not to talk about it,” says Odone of the ill-assorted gathering at the
Private Eye lunch. “All I would say is that it was emotional.”

I bet.

Augustine said...

Can't really see Cristina taking the moral highground about being smeared...

Dan said...

Seems to have gone very quiet. JoK, nothing to report?
Or is it the chill of libel I feel?

Dead Dog Bounce said...

Here's how this plays out

Scenario 1:
JoK finds proof that Zafio is Hari, and says so, unmasking him like the final reel of a Scooby Doo episode.

Scenario 2:
Zafio proves to JoK that he is in fact an independent person. JoK comes here and says so.

Scenario 3:
Zafio doesn't prove his independent existence to JoK's satisfaction despite having independent multiple social media account going back 3 years. In this case, JoK is likely to say nothing more, since he has nothing further to add.

So the silence here speaks volumes.
And Zafio's faith in checkuser is touching. All he needs is have accounts with seperate ISPs for each sock. His confidence in checkuser actually speaks against him, since he shouldn't know the details of the David Rose internet connections.

I think it would be interesting to ask Columbia what they think about having a serial plagiarist and sock-puppeteer studying there.

Johann Harry said...

Did anyone actually listen to Blackhurst on Radio 4? From what he said and how he said it, I think he is a bit pissed off that AWS didn't conduct a proper inquiry and that because of AWS' standing, he can't quibble with his (hopelessly inadequate) investigation and findings. He did not sound like someone who was comfortable with the decision to keep Hari. And I think that's why he wishes he could have off-loaded the decision to the PCC.

That's what I gathered, anyway.

Happy to be contradicted. Or ignored, as this page has probably stopped being the right forum for all this...

Anonymous said...

@Johann Harry

If you find out where the right forum is nowadays, let me know.I miss the good old days of last week when it was all playing out here.

Jack of Kent said...


I don't know how often you look at the email account you used to correspond with me, but you have an email.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

He might not have got settled in Columbia yet; sure he's got lots on...