Copycat probe lecturer leaves university job

Joanne Benford pictured for a Mail article in the 1990s

Joanne Benford pictured for a Mail article in the 1990s

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THE Open University has parted company with a lecturer at the centre of a plagiarism inquiry.

Hartlepool woman Joanne Benford was accused of using work by a fellow writer in a collection of stories called Coming Up For Air.

The inquiry was launched in the summer by the Open University following author Alex Keegan’s complaint.

While the full outcome has not been disclosed, it is now confirmed that Dr Benford is no longer employed by the university.

David Knight, director of associate lecturer services at the Open University, said: “The Open University has now concluded the investigation into plagiarism allegations against an associate lecturer.

“Plagiarism is unacceptable and associate lecturers have an important responsibility to deliver a quality learning experience.

“For reasons of confidentiality we are unable to comment specifically in relation to individual cases although we can confirm that the individual concerned is no longer employed by the university.”

Dr Benford’s website has described her as a prolific author who has self-published short stories, poems and novels, all of which are available to be purchased as e-books.

Her publications include Down by the Water, based on the River Tees, and The Music of the Spheres, a collection of poems about the planets.

Dr Benford’s website has also added that her life “has been marked by variety, travelling the cradles of civilisation, being a one-time singer, pianist, artist, librarian and all-round seeker” who began writing professionally, aged 20.

The former Rossmere Primary School, Brierton Comprehensive School and Hartlepool Sixth Form College student has also worked in the library at the town’s High Tunstall College of Science.

Dr Benford, who lives in the Hart Lane area of town and is in her early 40s, could not be contacted by the Mail yesterday.

Mr Keegan, from Newbury, in Berkshire, who claimed elements of Coming Up For Air mirrored his own Postcard From BalloonLand, said he was unaware of the full outcome of the inquiry.

But he added: “I feel vindicated because they have taken my complaint so seriously.

“I spoke to them over the phone and went up to London to see them with all my evidence and they have taken it from there.”