Two senior journalists at Rupert Murdoch's best-selling British tabloid The Sun were on Wednesday reported to have attempted to commit suicide after being questioned by police over allegations of phone hacking and bribing public officials for stories. The journalists, who were not named, were in hospital and their care was being reportedly paid for by News International, publisher of The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.
The news first reported by The Financial Times was confirmed by London Evening Standard which said the reporters “appeared to try to take their own lives'' amid deepening gloom at The Sun and other Murdoch titles with many journalists said to be “on the edge” as police intensified investigations into allegedly illegal media practices. “It is understood the company's offer of psychiatric help is available to any journalist who feels under pressure,'' it said.
News International declined to comment.
In recent weeks, eleven current and former Sun journalists have been arrested for allegedly making illegal payments to police and other public officials. They were arrested after News Corporation, parent company of News International, released some 300 million internal emails and other documents to the police to help them with their investigations.
Last week, a senior police officer leading the investigation said there was a “culture of illegal payments'' at The Sun. Staff at Murdoch newspapers accused the company of hanging them out to dry for “crimes'' committed in the past. They felt they were “betrayed in order to protect News Corp and the interests of its shareholders''.
“This all appears to be an attempt to save James Murdoch,” said one journalist referring to Mr. Murdoch's son who was in charge of News International during the phone-hacking crisis and resigned last week as its executive chairman.
Only recently, Mr. Murdoch launched a Sunday edition of The Sun to raise the morale at the paper and draw a line under the past.