Two senior journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s News International have attempted suicide as pressure mounts at the scandal-hit publisher of the now-defunct News of the World, according to media reports.
The suicide attempts follow weeks of intense scrutiny of the role of The Sun, another Murdoch paper, in the phone-hacking scandal and police bribery case.
The man and the woman, who were reportedly involved in separate incidents, were rescued in time, a friend of one of them said, according to a report Tuesday on stuff.co.nz. The two journalists have been checked into the hospital, according to a report Tuesday by the Financial Times. The newspaper reported that their care is being paid for by News International.
“It was not a suicide pact,” the friend told the New Zealand-based news organization. “The attempts were not simultaneous and there is no suggestion of a pact.”
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, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Their arrests have come as a result of information provided to the police by the Management and Standards Committee, or 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 organization but with a general lynch-mob hysteria.”
News International, the European arm of Murdoch’s empire, 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.
The London Evening Standard reported that other News International journalists are “terribly stressed and many are on the edge.” The company has reportedly offered psychiatric help to any journalist who wants help.