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The Examiner tweeted about the plagiarism charges against freelance columnist Steven King. (credit: Twitter, screenshot)

The Irish Examiner’s Steven King has been accused of plagiarism, according to the Irish Journal.

As the Journal explained, King has been “accused of copying lengthy passages for his columns” from Spiked blogger Brendan O’Neill. National Newspapers of Ireland reports that the Examiner had a circulation of 43,390 copies from January to June 2011.

The Examiner’s editor Tim Vaughan tweeted about the charges, writing “This is a very serious issue. We are awaiting response from Steven King and early decision will be made on the matter. Tim Vaughan, Editor.”

The Examiner’s Vaughan told StinkyJournalism by e-mail that King has written a “weekly column” as a freelance writer for the past five years.  Vaughan hasn’t responded to the Examiner’s phone calls or e-mails since the plagiarism accusations arose, so the newspaper “suspended” his column, according to Vaughan. Vaughan added that the newspaper is reviewing King’s work.

We asked Vaughan what the Examiner’s plagiarism policy is. He responded:

“Plagiarism is not tolerated by the Irish Examiner. One-off  transgressions by otherwise honest and professional contributors have been dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with varying degrees of sanction, but in all cases with a clear warning that any further transgression would result in immediate dismissal.

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“Because of our intolerance of plagiarism, we  thankfully have had few offenders, and these transgressers have  received sanctions up to and including severance of ties with the newspaper.”

Vaughan added that the newspaper relies on “a great deal of trust” with writers’ work.  He explained: “Like all newspapers, a great deal of trust is central to the relationship between contributor and publisher and when a contributor is someone of acclaimed repute, such as Steven King, it is not unreasonable to expect that what they write is not plagiarisation of someone else’s work.

Blogger Brian Whelan spotted the plagiarism, according to the Journal. In this Oct. 5 post by Whelan, who was one of the first to call out the Independent’s Johann Hari for lifting quotes earlier this year (more on the Hari case here), he accuses King of “extensively passing off the ideas of Spiked Online’s Brendan O’Neill as his own.”

Whelan wrote in his Oct. 5 post that O’Neill told him “he has never met King and never gave permission for any of his work to be reproduced by him.” and includes examples of where King lifts complex sentences changing only a word or two.

According to the Journal, a Dublin Institute of Technology professor Harry Browne added King’s Oct. 5 column to potential plagiarism list.

iMediaEthics has written to Spiked for comment and more information and will update with any response.

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Irish Examiner Columnist Steven King Suspended after Plagiarism Charges

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