Channel chief admits to law breaking
LONDON U.K. media regulator Ofcom has launched a probe into the hacking of private email accounts by BSkyB’s Sky News.
It comes after the News Corp.-controlled web admitted earlier this month that it accessed the accounts of a Brit who faked his own death so his wife could claim the insurance, among other instances.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, set up to examine press ethics in the U.K. in the wake of the phone-hacking and police corruption scandal at News Corp.’s now defunct News of the World, Sky News topper John Ryley also acknowledged that Sky had misled the investigation last year.
BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch was made aware in September that Sky News reporter Gerard Tubb had been given permission by his managers to hack the email account of Lianne Smith, who was awaiting trial for killing her children after her husband was convicted of child rape.
But in written evidence to Leveson last year Sky News failed to mention the hacking when asked if the web had ever been involved in intercepting communications.
Giving evidence Monday, Ryley admitted to Leveson that it was “very regrettable indeed” that Sky News had misled the inquiry.
He acknowledged that the company had broken the law in hacking the email accounts, but added, “It’s highly unlikely… that we would be doing this sort of thing in the future.”
Ryley continued, “Journalism is a tough business and at times we need to shed light on wrongdoing.”
Sky said it had hacked emails belong to John Darwin, who faked his own death in a canoe, and his wife Anne. Sky had previously insisted it had done so in the public interest and that it amounted to responsible journalism.
Simon Cole, the managing editor of Sky News at the time, resigned this month when Sky confirmed he had authorized Tubb to hack Darwin’s email account in 2008 and Lianne Smith’s emails in 2011.
Rupert and James Murdoch, who recently resigned as chairman of BSkyB, are due to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry this week. News Corp. owns 39.1% of BSkyB — its attempt to buy up the remaining 59.1% was scuppered by the hacking scandal.