Sky News has given a robust defence after The Guardian published a story detailing email hacking by the broadcaster in the 2008 case of insurance fraudster John Darwin.
Senior reporter Gerard Tubb had sought and received permission from managing editor Simon Cole to tap into Darwin’s emails. Darwin, who faked his own death, had walked into a police station claiming to be suffering from memory loss. In reality the ‘canoe man’ was very much alive and Sky investigation helped prove the involvement of his wife in the conspiracy. Anne Darwin was later convicted on 15 charges of fraud and money laundering on email evidence passed to the Police by Sky News.
“After careful consideration, Sky News granted permission because we believed the story was justified in the public interest. None of the material obtained was broadcast prior to the conviction and our coverage made clear that we had discovered and supplied emails to the police. There has been no attempt by Sky News to conceal these facts, which have been available on our website ever since,” said John Ryley, Sky’s head of news.
In a blogpost, Ryley gave the example of the Daily Telegraph revelations on MPs expenses, which only took place because the newspaper chose to pay for data that had been stolen.
Ryley also looked at some of the work carried out by reporters at The Guardian itself: “Its respected investigative reporter David Leigh has admitted hacking a phone in pursuit of a story. The Guardian’s sister paper, The Observer, was found on more than 100 occasions to have commissioned information from a notorious private investigator, who was convicted in 2006 of illegally obtaining private data. In each case, a public interest justification has been claimed”.
The Guardian, never a friend of News Corp, has been revelling in the accusations against the company that centre around phonehacking at its newspaper subsidiary News International. In recent weeks there have been attempts to widen the net to include other parts of the News Corp empire, most notably the decade old stories of card piracy by NDS that have been vigorously defended by the News Corp technology subsidiary.
Cole, who is retiring from Sky News after 17 years, says there is no connection with the Darwin story