Television journalist who quit over faked war report is found hanged

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The Independent Online

A television journalist who faked a report during the Iraq war has been found dead by his wife. She said that he was "shattered" at losing his high-profile job at Sky News.

James Forlong was found by his wife, Elaine, at their home in Sussex early on Saturday morning. He was believed to have been hanged. The journalist resigned in July after sending a report from a nuclear submarine that falsely purported to show a cruise missile being fired at enemy forces.

In fact, the submarine, HMS Splendid, was still in dock and the crew were carrying out an exercise at Mr Forlong's request. The story, which was also screened by ITV and foreign channels, used library footage to give the impression that a missile had been fired.

When it was reported that the story was faked, Mr Forlong was suspended. He subsequently agreed to resign after admitting "a single lapse of judgement which for me is a source of deep regret". Mr Forlong tried to find alternative employment, including a position as press secretary to the Prince of Wales, but was unsuccessful.

His wife said yesterday in a statement that she and the couple's children, Christopher, 15, and Katie, 12, were in a state of shock. "The family are devastated by his death, which we are still trying to come to terms with. James was a devoted, loving father and husband and we shall all miss him desperately," she said.

"James had been shattered by the recent blow to his career as a journalist. He deeply felt the loss of his job as a television correspondent.

"James was an award-winning journalist who had spent the last 10 years travelling to some of the world's worst trouble spots including Rwanda, Bosnia, Indonesia and Afghanistan and cared passionately about his work."

No other Sky journalist was found to have collaborated in the faked report, which the network said was "shot and edited completely on location".

Nick Pollard, head of Sky News, who wrote Forlong a reference after his resignation, described his death as a "personal tragedy". He said: "Everyone here sends their deepest sympathies to James's wife and children."

David Mannion, head of ITV News, praised Mr Forlong as a "decent, honest man" who made just one mistake. He said: "James was a true enthusiast, he tried harder than any journalist I have known."

Mr Forlong had worked in some of the world's most dangerous locations and won awards for his coverage of genocide in Rwanda and the overthrow of President Suharto of Indonesia in 1997. He also covered royal stories including the death of the Queen Mother and the Golden Jubilee.

When he resigned, Mr Forlong said: "I accept the damage this has done to my integrity; something that has never before been called into question during a decade of working as a correspondent for Sky News."

A post-mortem examination is due to take place today.

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