The Orwell Prize organisers said in a statement tonight: "The 2008 Orwell Prize for Journalism, which had been awarded to Johann Hari, was returned this afternoon by courier. The Orwell Prize accepts Hari’s withdrawal."
Hari, the writer and columnist for the Independent, has admitted plagiarism allegations and will attend a journalism training course before being allowed to rejoin the newspaper.
Independent Print Limited (IPL), the owner of the Independent, said that Hari had acknowledged embellishing quotations in articles and plagiarism following an examination of evidence by Andreas Whittam Smith, a former editor of the paper. Hari was suspended in July to allow the claims to be investigated.
Whittam Smith recommended that Hari, who also accepted that he had used a pseudonym - David Rose - to attack his critics by editing their Wikipedia entries, should be allowed to return to working for The Independent subject to certain conditions.
Hari, who has apologised for his actions, is to take four months' unpaid leave to undertake a programme of journalism training at his own expense.
Chris Blackhurst, editor of the Independent, said: "We always pride ourselves on pursuing the highest ethical standards at the Independent. Regrettably, Johann fell below those in some aspects of his journalism. He has acknowledged his mistakes and made a full apology. There is no doubting his talent as a columnist and we are hoping to see him back in the Independent in the not too distant future.”