Another property that News Corp. has a stake in has admitted to hacking into the private correspondence of story subjects. This time the news outlet is Sky News, the U.K. cable and satellite news channel. While Sky News is owned by BskyB, News Corp. owns a minority stake in the channel, and until this week James Murdoch had been chairman of BskyB’s board.
The BBC has details on the hacks, which took place on two occasions, with Sky journalists hacking into the emails of people in the news. Sky also released a statement defending its actions.
“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.”
The full Sky statement is after the jump.
“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.
On two occasions, we have authorised a journalist to access the email of individuals suspected of criminal activity. In the 2008 case of Ann 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
At all times, Sky News remains focused on maintaining its high standards and delivering an outstanding service.”