In a statement published by The Guardian Thursday, Sky News admitted to twice authorizing a journalist to hack into the email accounts of persons suspected of crimes, defending its actions as “editorially justified.”
In the first incident, the broadcaster admitted hacking the e-mail account of John Darwin, a British man who reportedly “went missing” in 2002 after he was seen paddling out to sea in a canoe, but was later found living with his wife, Anne, in Panama. In the second incident, Sky News gave the same reporter permission to access the email accounts of a suspected pedophile and his wife.
The Guardian identified Gerrard Tubb as the correspondent responsible for accessing the emails of Darwin. In 2008, Tubb reportedly compromised Darwin’s email account and began compiling a database of emails between Darwin and his wife, Anne Darwin. Tubb believed these emails could be used to discredit Anne Darwin’s defense.
“We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” wrote Sky News executive editor John Ryley in the statement. The Guardian notes that there is no such defense written in law, regardless of Ryley and Sky News’s intentions.
Ryley likened the hacking to two other cases in which Sky News journalists broke the law under “proper editorial controls.” One involved a Sky News reporter illegally purchasing an Uzi machine gun and the other involved a reporter compromising airside security at Heathrow Airport.
This admission is part of a larger trend of alleged hacking and other questionable editorial behavior at Rupert Murdoch-owned News International publications.