Sky News: Email hacking was ‘editorially justified and in the public interest’

The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh, Nick Davies and Robert Booth report that in 2008 Sky News Managing Editor Simon Cole authorized a reporter to hack into the email account of a woman charged with a crime for helping her husband fake his death. (He’s been called “canoe man” because he had been paddling out to sea when he supposedly disappeared in 2002.) The reporter, Gerard Tubb, collected emails that would poke holes in the woman’s defense and handed them over to police to aid in her prosecution. Tubb made “only a minimal effort to hide the basis of the story” that he reported using the emails, the Guardian reports. He also was authorized to hack into email in another case, although Sky News didn’t publish any stories related to that one.

The Guardian notes that such activity is illegal, but BSkyB’s Sky News is defending it:

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. 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.

Earlier: James Murdoch steps down as BSkyB chairman to avoid being ‘lightning rod’ (Poynter)

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  • Anonymous

    In GB where there is no First Amendment Right – they can do a whole lot without fear of prosecution.

    Here in the U.S. we use the constitutional provision as a shield for the media’s wrongful-reporting and skewing or manipulating of the facts, without legal responsibility – then later using a FOIA request to claim there is an element of “public interest” involved. 

    The initial stateside effort is typically aimed at single-copy sales, and/or boosting viewer numbers; and the latter just to set the record straight… so we call that just an “amplification”.   

  • Frank Spencer-Molloy

    The hacking was illegal but we’re defending it. Really? Good luck with that defense. I guess there are no bright lines Murdoch reporters won’t cross. And what’s with turning the ill-gotten information over to police? You consider yourself an arm of the constabulary? There’s another bright line you don’t cross: abetting a police investigation.