Sun journalists attempt suicide amid bribery scandal

Last updated 08:58 07/03/2012

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Two senior journalists at Britain's The Sun newspaper have reportedly tried to take their own lives following their arrests as part of police investigations into bribery of public officials.

The man and the woman, who were reportedly involved in separate incidents, were both rescued in time, a friend of one of them said.

"It was not a suicide pact," the friend said. "The attempts were not simultaneous and there is no suggestion of a pact."

"They are both now in private clinics at the expense of Rupert Murdoch."

Eleven reporters and executives on the paper have been arrested in recent weeks, some in the last few days, but none have been charged. It is believed at least some of the arrests were made possible by the work of News International's own Management and Standards Committee, which is investigating the illicit newsroom practices of The Sun and the News of the World. It is trawling through 300 million emails and has handed evidence to police.

News International has declined to comment on the incidents.

News of the journalists' actions broke in the London Evening Standard, which reported fury in News International newsrooms where staff believe executives had sold reporters out.

Another source told the Standard the company's handling of the crisis had been "disastrous", characterising it as "an attempt to save James Murdoch". James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, presided over the company during the later stages of the alleged cover-up of hacking. He resigned last week as executive chairman of the British arm of the media empire and will now work out of New York.

Other journalists inside the Murdoch headquarters at Wapping were said to be looking "terribly stressed, and many are on the edge". It is believed the company has offered counselling help to any journalist who feels in need of it.

Last week the Leveson inquiry into media ethics was told that The Sun had established a "network of corrupted officials" whom it paid for information, including police, defence personnel and other civil servants "in all areas of public life". Deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sue Akers, said The Sun had a culture of illegal payments, which were openly referred to within the paper.

Evidence suggested one public official was paid around 80,000 pounds over a period of years, and that one journalist was given more than 150,000 pounds over several years to pay sources, she said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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