A journalist who worked at The Argus in Brighton has been sacked from The Sun.
Matt Nixson was dismissed as an internal investigation seeks to establish the extent of phone hacking at The Sun’s defunct sister title, the News of the World.
Mr Nixson was head of features at The Sun until Thursday (21 July) having worked there for six months.
His computer was seized and Mr Nixson, who left the Hollingbury-based Argus almost ten years ago, was escorted from the newspaper’s Wapping offices.
A report in The Guardian cited anonymous sources at the company that owns The Sun – News International – saying that this was standard procedure.
The anonymous sources said that Mr Nixson’s dismissal did not indicate any wrongdoing during his time at The Sun.
Brighton media commentator Roy Greenslade noted that, just an hour before his departure, Mr Nixson was defending the paper in an email to a public relations executive from Brighton and Hove.
He was responding to criticisms made by Michael Taggart which were published on Wednesday (20 July) by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mr Taggart, a consultant for the London PR firm MRM, worked at The Sun in 2003 when Rebekah Wade – now Rebekah Brooks – was editor.
According to Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Taggart said that The Sun under Rebekah Brooks was marked by “’ruthlessness and misogyny’”.
“’The reporters who were prepared to subject themselves and others to the most ridicule were the ones earmarked for success.”
He described routinely participating in overnight stakeouts, something that he said was rare at other papers he had worked for.
And he said that attitudes towards women did not improve under Mrs Brooks, adding: “We were regularly encouraged to refer to women with misogynistic names like tarts, slappers or hookers in our copy if there was conceivably any question mark over their sexual proclivities.
“We were expected to childishly objectify women.
“So blonde-haired women were described as beauties and generously chested women ‘looked swell’.”
Mr Taggart said yesterday on Twitter that he thought Mr Nixson had been “shafted”.
News International issued a statement saying: “News Corporation’s Management and Standards Committee (MSC) can confirm that News International today terminated the contract of a member of staff in relation to his previous work at the News of the World.
“The MSC is authorised to co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own inquiries where appropriate.”
Separately the BBC reported that the News of the World hired a private investigator to follow a Labour MP during the party’s annual conference in Brighton two years ago.
The BBC said that Tom Watson, a long-time critic of News International and its ultimate head, Rupert Murdoch, was kept under surveillance while he was in the town.
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