At the April 23 Leveson Inquiry into press standards and practices, Sky News’ head John Ryley commented on the recent revelation that his network hacked e-mail twice. As we wrote earlier this month, Sky News disclosed in an April 5 press release that it has used e-mail hacking in two instances in the past. Sky News defended the hacking as being in the public interest.
Ryley also said at the Leveson Inquiry, according to Sky News, “Sky News journalists will in future have a mandatory requirement to seek legal advice before taking any actions which might be viewed as unlawful.” That this requirement was not mandatory prior to this does not reflect kindly on Sky News, iMediaEthics notes.
Another noteworthy part of Ryley’s testimony included his apology for Sky News’ September 2011 claim that it hadn’t used hacking. Ryley called the claim, which was reportedly based on an “internal investigation,” “inadvertently misleading” and “very regrettable,” according to Sky News.
Because of the hacking, UK broadcast regulator OfCom announced it is “investigating the fairness and privacy issues raised by Sky News’ statement that it had accessed without prior authorisation private email accounts during the course of its news investigations,” Journalism.co.uk reported.
The BBC noted that OfCom’s code calls for “any infringement of privacy…must be warranted.”
Further, Leveson said at the hearing that Sky News’ hacking “wasn’t merely invading somebody’s privacy, it was breach of the criminal law,” according to the BBC.
Sky News still is defending the two instances that they admit to using hacking, the BBC reported. However, the Sydney Morning Herald noted that the Sky News managing editor who OK’ed the hacking, Simon Cole, “resigned this month.” See Ryley’s hearing transcript here.
Variety noted that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. “owns 39.1% of BSkyB — its attempt to buy up the remaining 59.1% was scuppered by the hacking scandal.” We wrote in July of last year when News Corp. ended its attempts to buy the rest of the company.
We have written to OfCom for more information about its investigation and will update with any response.