Controversial author Ronald Suresh Roberts was dealt a blow this week when the Press Council of South Africa failed to side with him over a newspaper report that he had plagiarised the work of a former friend, writes Kim Hawkey in the Sunday Times.
In a unanimous ruling on Tuesday, a Press Council panel found that the newspaperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s belief that Roberts was a plagiarist was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œreasonableÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
The council dismissed RobertsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s complaint.
At issue was a story claiming Roberts had plagiarised the work of lawyer Anthony Brink in his book Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki.
In the story, published in The Weekender in November last year, Business Day editor Peter Bruce wrote that Roberts had ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œcut and pastedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â portions of BrinkÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s online book, Lying and Thieving.
Roberts complained that the story contained factual errors and complained that The Weekender had not given him an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him.
Of the 10 complaints about factual inaccuracies Roberts alleged, the council found that the paper had omitted to get RobertsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s comment on one issue.
This was that Roberts had allegedly told Brink that his manuscript, Just Say Yes, Mr President was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œbrilliant, f***ing brilliantÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â, and that his writing was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œinfectiousÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â, after Brink allegedly accused him of using his work.
But the council said this did not constitute a breach of the South African Press Code because the story was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œinterpretiveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œdid not oblige the newspaper to get RobertsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s sideÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
The panel also had to rule on whether the plagiarism accusations, together with RobertsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s responses, were ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œreported accurately, fairly and in a balanced mannerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
Click here to read the full report, posted on the Sunday Times website.