Two Murdoch reporters feared to be in suicide bids
Anger at News International over treatment of journalists
Tom Harper and Simon Freeman
06 March 2012
Two senior journalists at News International have apparently attempted to commit suicide as pressure mounts inside the Murdoch media empire.
The reporters appeared to try to take their own lives after the company turned over 300 million emails and internal papers to detectives investigating phone-hacking and alleged bribery of public officials.
The journalists, whom the Standard has decided not to name, were checked into hospital at the expense of News International on the orders of Rupert Murdoch.
Sources said other journalists inside the Wapping HQ look “terribly stressed and many are on the edge”. It is understood the company’s offer of psychiatric help is available to any journalist who feels under pressure.
The tragic developments happened after News Corp’s Management and Standards Commitee, a branch of the empire that reports directly to independent board directors in New York, passed evidence to Scotland Yard.
Eleven reporters and senior executives from The Sun have been arrested in recent weeks by police officers from Operation Elveden, which is investigating alleged illegal payments to police officers and civil servants.
The MSC’s co-operation with the police has triggered a civil war inside the Murdoch empire. Bosses at News International, its UK-newspaper subsidiary, are furious that the committee, headed by Lord Grabiner QC, has “sold journalists down the river”.
Last week, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who is in charge of the investigations into News International, told the Leveson Inquiry she believed The Sun had established a “network of corrupted officials” inside the police, the armed forces and other key public organisations. No one from The Sun or the News International has yet been charged with an offence.
Another source said the company’s handling of the crisis had been “disastrous”. He added: “This all appears to be an attempt to save James Murdoch.” Murdoch Jnr, who was in charge of News International during the phone-hacking crisis and the alleged cover-up, resigned as executive chairman last week and moved to New York.
Today, former Scotland Yard commissioner Lord Condon told the Leveson Inquiry into the phone hacking crisis that he was “very disappointed” by events at the Met.
“I have been concerned by some of the issues that have emerged and had I still been involved in the Service I would probably be very angry,” he said.
He described the “history of police malpractice” as “cyclical” and called for Lord Justice Leveson, who is this week looking at relations between the Met and the media, to suggest “enduring” reforms to the relationship between the press and the police.
Lord Condon, who led the Met in the Nineties, said: “The history of police malpractice goes: scandal, inquiry, remedial action, relaxation, complacency, scandal, inquiry and that’s been on about a 20-year cycle.”