06 Apr 2012

New Hacking Scandal in Murdoch’s Courtyard, Sky News

The British broadcaster Sky News, part-owned by Rupert Murdoch, admitted it hacked private e-mails as part of news gathering operations. With the executives’ approval, a journalist broke into e-mails on two occasions.

His purpose was apparently to write stories and help police with the “canoe man”, a Briton who staged his death in a fake accident to get £500,000 in life insurance.

“We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest. These investigations are a legitimate part of responsible journalism,” the head of Sky News, John Ryley, said in a statement sent out in the media.

The acknowledgment came a couple of days after Murdoch’s son resigned from his London job. He was chairman of Sky’s parent company, part-owned by News Corp., which is still associated with last year’s phone-hacking scandal. Referring to his father’s corporation, James Murdoch said he wanted to ensure that “there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization”, according to Reuters. Sky News officials deny any link between his resignation and the new scandal.

E-mail hacking was confirmed after The Guardian spread the rumor. “Indeed, if it was looking for further examples, the Guardian could have found them much closer to home. Its respected investigative reporter David Leigh has admitted hacking a phone in pursuit of a story. Double standards? Draw your own conclusions,” said the head of Sky News on his blog.

The old phone-hacking problem has already cost News Corp. $200-million (U.S.), much of it in legal and consulting fees. The scandal claimed victims like former UK prime-minister Gordon Brown, and lesser-known people briefly in the media attention.