Sky News Says it Hacked E-mail Twice, Justifies it as in Public Interest

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See above a screenshot from the Sky News statement on email hacking. (Credit: Sky News, screenshot, highlight added)

Sky News announced in an April 5 press release that it has allowed e-mail hacking  for stories twice.

According to the press release, Sky News defended the two hacking incidents because it said it was “editorially justified and in the public interest.” Sky News noted that it “authorised” the hacking back in 2008 and that “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.”

In that case, Sky News “hacked emails from John Darwin, who faked his own death in a canoe, and his wife Anne,” the BBC explained.  Because of John Darwin’s faked death, his wife “collected more than £500,000 in life insurance payouts while he hid in their marital home, allowing their two sons to think he was dead,” according to the BBC.

The Associated Press added that in 2007, John Darwin “walked into a London police station” and said he had amnesia.

The couple was “charged with fraud” and John Darwin “pleaded guilty to seven charges of deception and a passport offence in March 2008,” according to the Guardian. Anne Darwin “was found guilty” of deception and money laundering.

According to the Guardian, Sky News’ Gerard Tubb’s 2008 stories cited the Darwins’ e-mails, reporting “we discovered an email” and “Sky News has uncovered documentary evidence.”

The Guardian described the report as “making only a minimal effort to hide the basis of the story.” The Guardian noted that Sky News also “published a voicemail message” from Anne Darwin to John Darwin, but that Sky News denied it was because of phone hacking.

According to the BBC, Sky News said the police “absolutely knew” that Sky News hacked the e-mails. The police involved in this case, the Cleveland Police, told BBC News that “Cleveland Police has conducted an initial review into these matters and can confirm that enquiries are ongoing into how the emails were obtained.”

In another case, Sky News “targeted the accounts of a suspected paedophile and his wife,” the BBC notedThe Guardian noted that Sky never “published or broadcast” a story with that information.

Sky News cited two separate incidents where its journalists broke laws for stories – in 2004 a journalist “bought an Uzi machine” and in 2003 a journalist “penetrated airside security at Heathrow” airport.

Reuters noted that “News Corp. [owned by Rupert Murdoch] is the biggest shareholder in BSkyB with a 39 per cent stake.”

The AP reported that the Guardian broke the story of the hacking.  According to Channel 4, Sky News issued its statement after the Guardian reported the news.  Further, Channel 4 noted that “in a separate statement published on its website Sky News accused the Guardian of double standards with the Guardian and its sister paper successfully justifying investigations where private data was obtained illegally using the a public interest defence.”

In that April 5 statement, “A Case of Double Standards?,” Sky News wrote that its journalist got prior approval to “access email accounts” and that Sky News didn’t “conceal these facts, which have been available on our website ever since.”

Sky News added that the Guardian’s David Leigh “admitted hacking a phone” and that the Observer used “a notorious private investigator” (Glenn Mulcaire) “on more than 100 occasions.”

Sky News wrote:

“At Sky News, we hold ourselves accountable for our decisions. I’m proud of our journalism and journalists.  It’s less clear why the Guardian should apply such scrutiny to a Sky News story that has been in the public domain since 2008, particularly while failing to acknowledge its own past actions. Needless to say we reminded the Guardian of its own past conduct before they published today’s story.

“Double standards? Draw your own conclusions.”

We have written to the Guardian for comment and will update with any response.

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Sky News Says it Hacked E-mail Twice, Justifies it as in Public Interest

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