Johann Hari looked set to be stripped of one of the most prestigious prizes in the industry, but at the eleventh hour the Orwell Prize committee has agreed to delay their formal decision until an investigation is completed by the Indy. Guido noted the row between the two organisations earlier, and it seems the Indy has got it’s own way by successfully gagged its imaginative columnist. The rather grumpy statement makes it pretty clear which way things were heading for Hari:
“After extensive deliberation, the Council arrived at a clear and unanimous decision, which drew from the combined journalistic and academic expertise of its members. It also considered a representation by Johann Hari in its deliberation, and appropriate weight was placed upon it. The Council of the Orwell Prize is fully satisfied that it has adopted the appropriate procedure for an exercise of this kind. The Independent has now requested that the Council consider further representations by Johann Hari before announcing the decision. However, it would appear that Johann Hari is not permitted to make any further representations whilst The Independent’s investigation is conducted.
In these circumstances, the Council of the Orwell Prize has reluctantly consented to delay any formal announcement as to the status of the 2008 Orwell Prize for Journalism until The Independent has completed its own investigation. We will take no further action and make no further statements until that time.”
Waiting two months won’t make this any less embarrassing Mr Blackhurst, if the announcement was that Hari was going to keep it, you wouldn’t have wanted the delay…
UPDATE: Sources are adamant and that statement is obvious: Johann Hari has lost the Orwell Prize. It was even reported as such yesterday. It’s only the Indy’s PR machine causing trouble, and the Orwell Prize doesn’t smell of roses for caving in.