Tuesday 6 March 2012

Two UK Murdoch journalists in apparent suicide bids

Two senior journalists working for Ruper t Murdoch's News International have apparently attempted suicide as pressure mounts at the scandal-hit publisher of the now-defunct News of the World. Three sources close to the company told Reuters on Tuesday the two journalists at the Sun daily appeared to have tried to take their own lives. Investigations sparked by a phone-hacking scandal continue to expose dubious practices by present and past employees. Eleven current and former staff of the Sun, Britain's best-selling daily tabloid, have been arrested this year on suspicion of bribing police or civil servants for tip-offs. Their arrests have come as a result of information provided to the police by the Management and Standards Committee (MSC), a body set up by parent company News Corp to facilitate police investigations and liaise with the courts. The work of the MSC, which was set up to be independent of the conglomerate's British newspaper arm News International, has caused bitterness among staff, many of whom feel betrayed by an employer they have loyally served. 'People think that they've been thrown under a bus,' one News International employee told Reuters. 'They're beyond angry - there's an utter sense of betrayal, not just with the organisation but with a general lynch-mob hysteria.' News International is facing multiple criminal investigations and civil court cases as well as a public inquiry into press standards after long-simmering criticism of its practices came to a head last July. Politicians once close to Murdoch, including Prime Minister David Cameron, turned their backs on him and demanded answers after the Guardian newspaper revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Police officer Sue Akers, who is heading three criminal inquiries into News International, said last week there appeared to have been 'a culture of illegal payments' at the Sun. Staff at the tabloid have been under additional pressure for the past two weeks because they have also had to produce a Sunday paper, hastily announced by Murdoch to replace the News of the World. News International has increased the level of psychiatric help available to employees to help them cope.