Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News channel twice authorized its reporters to hack into computers, a potentially embarrassing revelation that could further dent the media tycoon’s hope of acquiring full control over satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
Sky News said in a statement that in one case it broke into emails belonging to Anne and John Darwin, the so-called “canoe couple” who became notorious in Britain after the latter faked his own death in a boating accident as part of an elaborate insurance scam.
The case drew a surge of media interest after John Darwin walked into a London police station in late 2007 and said: “I think I’m a missing person.” He claimed to have amnesia and said he could remember nothing since 2000 but his story unraveled as journalists and police started digging.
“We discovered an email,” the article begins, without giving any explanation of how the message was obtained.
Sky News said the emails were later handed to police. In a statement Thursday, John Ryley, head of Sky News, said that “we do not take such decisions lightly or frequently” and said the investigation had served the public interest. But the public interest defence immediately drew skepticism from British legal experts.