Sky reporter took his life after row over fake footage

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The Independent Online

The Sky News reporter James Forlong committed suicide when he lost his job after making false claims in a television report, an inquest was told yesterday.

Forlong, 44, hanged himself using a black leather belt in the study of his home in Hove, East Sussex. He pushed a cabinet against the door to make sure that no one would find him until he was dead. The inquest at Bright-on coroner's court was told that the journalist's wife, Elaine, discovered him in the early hours of 4 October. The couple's son, Chris, who has Down's syndrome, woke up and she had sought her husband's help to put him back to sleep.

She said: "My husband was a good and gentle man and I'm not sure I will ever fully understand the manner of his death."

Forlong did not leave a suicide note in the house, or on his computer, but Veronica Hamilton-Deeley, the coroner, recorded a verdict of suicide after hearing details of the circumstances surrounding the case.

Forlong had worked for Sky News for 10 years but resigned in July because parts of a report he had filed in March were misleading. His report screened on Sky on 29 March showed a Cruise missile being launched from a Royal Navy submarine in the Gulf, with crew apparently carrying out the operation. In fact, the crew were on a practice run and file footage of a missile being fired was used.

The story came to light because a BBC crew was also filming on HMS Splendid making a series called Fighting the War. Sky executives investigated the incident and Forlong handed in his notice on 18 July.

He subsequently applied for a job as a press officer for the Prince of Wales, but was unsuccessful. Friends said that the rejection was the final straw.

Ms Hamilton-Deeley said that Forlong should be remembered for his "dedicated, professional and accurate work" over the years.

"I imagine that for journalists, work is a way of life and for him it was a passion. He was an award-winning journalist," she said. "He made a mistake and as a result he lost not only his job but one of the passions in life. We all make mistakes and he acknowledged his, which was a very brave thing to do considering all the publicity."