Sky News head admits to email hacking

Sky News head admits to email hacking

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MUMBAI: BSkyB-owned satellite news broadcaster Sky News has admitted to having hacked email ids of a criminal suspect on two occasions in 2008 over what it claims was done for the purpose of ?public interest?.

The shocking revelations come from John Ryley, head of Sky News, whose parent company BSkyB is partly owned by News Corp, which is already under investigation from UK authorities on phone hacking scandal surrounding now defunct ?News of the World?.

Ryley through a statement revealed that the channel had authorised its North of England correspondent, Gerard Tubb, to access emails of John Darwin, the ?canoe man? who faked his own death in 2002. The material thus gathered helped in the prosecution of accused, he claimed.

?On two occasions, we have authorised a journalist to access the email of individuals suspected of criminal activity. In the 2008 case of Anne Darwin, Sky News met with Cleveland Police and provided them with emails offering new information relevant to Mrs Darwin?s defence. Material provided by Sky News was used in the successful prosecution and the police made clear after the trial that this information was pivotal to the case,? Ryley said in a statement.

Ryley said such decisions were taken only in certain cases where public interest is at stake. He cited examples wherein Sky News journalist have done the unimaginable to drive home the point.

?We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest. We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently. They require finely balanced judgement based on individual circumstances and must always be subjected to the proper editorial controls,? Ryley added.

?In a separate investigation, a Sky News journalist bought an Uzi machine gun in 2004 to highlight the easy availability of illegal weapons in the UK. On another occasion, our reporter penetrated airside security at Heathrow in 2003 to highlight failings in the system. These investigations serve the public interest and are a legitimate part of responsible journalism.?

He also stressed that none of journalist were found to indulge in illegal activities following a review of email accounts and internal audit of payment records of its employees.

?Separate to the actions described above, as part of our ongoing commitment to acting responsibly and in light of the current, heightened interest in editorial practices, Sky commissioned both an external review of email records at Sky News and an internal audit of payment records,? Ryley asserted.

?While the email review is nearing its conclusion, no grounds for concern have been found. If evidence of impropriety was found, we would investigate immediately. We believe these pro-active steps, undertaken at our own initiative, form part of the good governance procedures to be expected of a responsible news organisation.?

Ryley said Sky News was committed highest standards of journalism, ?Sky News is committed to the highest editorial standards. Like other news organisations, we are acutely aware of the tensions that can arise between the law and responsible investigative journalism.?

The John Darwin disappearance case was an investigation into the faked death of former British teacher and prison officer John Darwin, who turned up alive in December 2007, five years after he was thought to have died in a canoeing accident. John , along with his wife Anne Darwin, was later convicted of fraud.

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