The Sky News presenter and Courier-Mail columnist Peter Gleeson has left News Corp after multiple instances of plagiarism were uncovered.
The Courier-Mail announced his fate on Thursday, and it did not pull any punches: “In a personal note to The Courier-Mail editor Chris Jones today Mr Gleeson said: ‘I apologise for breaching News Corp’s Code of Conduct and instances where I have not met the standards required’.
“This follows recent examples of material first written by others appearing in articles published under Mr Gleeson’s byline.
“In his note Mr Gleeson said he had had extraordinary career opportunities during a 34-year career with News Corp and added that ‘it is a fantastic company for which I have the greatest respect’.”
It is a humiliating end for Gleeson, a former editor of several Murdoch newspapers and a rightwing mouthpiece for Sky News where he is close to the CEO, Paul Whittaker.
Earlier this week the Guardian reported he had filled almost half a column with the unattributed reporting of a regional ABC journalist.
The plagiarism was identified by Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission which has been trawling through Gleeson’s work since he was caught out for similar offences – including by Guardian Australia, which revealed he filled 62% of an article with copy from a Queensland parliament factsheet.
In his Gleeso Confidential column, the former editor of the Sunday Mail used hundreds of words from the official document without quotation marks.
“The Queensland Parliament is unique among Australian state parliaments as it is unicameral, that is, it only has one chamber,” he wrote without attribution.
“Unicameral legislatures are uncommon in Westminster parliamentary democracies.
“The standard parliamentary model in Westminster democracies includes two chambers consisting of a lower house and an upper house of review.”
The article then goes on to copy 21 further paragraphs from the factsheet.
Gleeson’s plagiarism first came to attention when he was caught lifting four paragraphs of political analysis from the then ABC Brisbane reporter Josh Bavas.
Gleeson’s feature formed part of a 12-page “Special Investigation by Peter Gleeson” in the Saturday paper headlined “Power and Palaszczuk”. It was a hit job on the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk.
After Bavas posted his article side-by-side on Twitter with Gleeson’s article, Courier-Mail staff demanded to know what Jones was going to do about the plagiarism.
Jones told them he was taking it seriously and posted an uncharacteristically frank note for a News Corp editor on the offending online article: “Editor’s note: A previous version of this story included four paragraphs which were not the author’s work. News Corporation’s Code of Conduct states that ‘plagiarism is theft’. The Courier-Mail apologises for this error.”
The Courier-Mail published a page-four apology from Gleeson in which he claimed the plagiarism was “unintentional”.
“I deeply regret the fact that material written by another journalist appeared under my byline in The Courier-Mail last Saturday,” he said. “This was not a deliberate act by me to use another person’s work and present it as my own.”
But after further revelations of plagiarism, including by the ABC’s Media Watch which found Gleeson took big chunks of a 2015 story by the ex-Courier-Mail journalist Jason Tin, he was let go.