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UK scribe found dead after ouster

London, Oct. 6 (Reuters): A British television journalist who has been found dead was devastated by his forced resignation from Sky News channel after faking a report during the Iraq war, his wife said today.

The body of 44-year-old James Forlong was found by his wife Elaine at their home in Hove, southeast England early on Saturday. “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,” she said in a statement.

“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,” she said, adding that the family was “devastated.” A police spokeswoman said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Sky expressed deep regret at Forlong’s death but declined to comment further.

“This is a terrible personal tragedy and a shocking blow for James’ family. Everyone here sends their deepest sympathies to his wife and children,” Nick Pollard, head of Sky News, said in a statement.

The journalist’s death echoes that of British government weapons inspector David Kelly, who killed himself in July after becoming enmeshed in a furious row between the government and the BBC over the Iraq war. Forlong was forced to resign from Sky in July after he was found to have produced a faked report from a British royal navy submarine during the conflict.

The report purported to show the preparation and firing of a cruise missile from HMS Splendid. But a BBC documentary crew filming at the same time said it had been specially staged for the benefit of Sky’s camera and that no missile was actually fired.

Forlong, who worked for Sky for 10 years, said at the time that the faked report was “a single lapse of judgment which for me is a deep source of regret.” Sky said when Forlong resigned that his report had been unacceptable to a news operation which had built a “proud reputation for accuracy and integrity”.

Forlong’s journalistic career began with local newspapers in southern England followed by radio reporting at the BBC.

In 1988 he made the shift to television, becoming an ITN news correspondent reporting from Somalia, Syria, Lebanon and Bosnia. Forlong joined Sky in 1993 as a senior foreign correspondent at the opening of the broadcaster’s South Africa bureau.

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