AN AUTHOR and lecturer is under internal investigation by the Open University after a complaint that she plagiarised another writer’s work.
The inquiry is under way following an allegation made against Hartlepool woman Joanne Benford.
She is accused by author Alex Keegan of using part of his own work in a collection of stories called Coming Up For Air.
Mr Keegan has told the Mail that he contacted the Open University concerning the allegation.
David Knight, director of associate lecturer services at the Open University, said: “An allegation of plagiarism has been made against one of our associate lecturers.
“The Open University does not tolerate plagiarism and it is viewed as a serious offence.
“Associate lecturers make a vital contribution to the quality of teaching and learning and we have taken immediate action to investigate the allegation.
“If a case of plagiarism is proven, The Open University disciplinary procedures will be followed. It would not be appropriate to comment further until we have concluded the internal investigation process.”
A spokesman confirmed that Dr Benford was the lecturer under investigation and added that she has not been suspended by the Open University “as it is now between presentations and she is not currently teaching any students”.
The spokesman could not say when the investigation would be concluded.
Dr Benford’s website describes her as a prolific author who has self-published short stories, poems and novels, all of which are available to purchase 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 adds 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.