Sky News said a senior executive authorized the e-mail hacking on two separate occasions, saying it was "in the public interest," even though intercepting e-mails violates the Computer Misuse Act, to which there is no such defense legally available, The Guardian reported Thursday.
Sky News correspondent Gerard Tubb accessed e-mails belonging to John Darwin, accused of faking his own death, when his wife, Anne, was to be tried for deception in July 2008. The reporter compiled e-mails he said he believed would help overcome Anne Darwin's defense. John Darwin pleaded guilty to seven charges of deception before his wife's trial.
Tubb also accessed e-mail accounts of a suspected pedophile and his wife during an investigation in which none of the material was published or broadcast, Sky News said in a statement sent to The Guardian. Sky is part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which has been beset by a hacking scandal at its defunct News of the World.
Both times the hacking was approved by Simon Cole, Sky News' managing editor.
John Ryley, head of Sky News, said the broadcaster "authorized a journalist to access the e-mails of individuals suspected of criminal activity" and the action in both instances was "justified and in the public interest."