Sky News Boss Admits Illegal Hacking


Sky News boss John Ryley admitted to the Leveson Inquiry yesterday that the company broke the law by hacking emails.

Following the admission Ofcom announced that it is launching an investigation into the broadcaster, which is part owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch is to appear before the inquiry tomorrow, while his son, James Murdoch, is to appear today.

Ryley admitted hacking the accounts of John Darwin, who faked his own death in a canoe, and his wife Anne.

Sky has previously claimed the action was in the public interest and amounted to ‘responsible journalism’.

Yesterday, Ryley said it was ‘very regrettable’ that a lawyer representing Sky News had written to the inquiry last September claiming: ‘Sky News editorial and reporting staff to whom we have spoken have never intercepted communications.’

Hacking emails is a breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990, to which there is no prima facie public interest defence.

Intercepting somebody’s communications, whether phone calls or emails, breaches the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which again has no explicit public interest defence.

Lord Leveson asked Ryley yesterday: ‘Where does the Ofcom broadcasting code give any authority to a breach of the criminal law?’

Ryley replied: ‘It doesn’t.’

The Leveson Inquiry resumed at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London yesterday after a break of almost three weeks.

Today James Murdoch is expected to be asked to explain why it took him so long to appreciate the full extent of phone hacking at the News of the World, as he claims.

He resigned as the executive chairman of News International in February.

Tomorrow and Thursday Rupert Murdoch will be questioned about practices at his British newspapers in the light of the phone-hacking scandal.

He is likely to be asked whether he exerted undue influence over British public life through his papers and his regular meetings with top politicians.

Murdoch told the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee last July, that he met Cameron ‘within days’ of the 2010 general election and was invited to Downing Street by Gordon Brown ‘many times’. Tony Blair is godfather to one of his children.