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Sky News admits to hacking emails 'in the public interest'

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Sky News has admitted to hacking email accounts on two separate occasions, an action that was apparently authorized by the managing editor.

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Macbook macro_1020

In the latest hacking news to come out of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Sky News has admitted that its managing editor, Simon Cole, approved the hacking of email addresses in two cases. Coming clean in a blog post published today, Sky claimed that its admission highlighted "the tensions that can arise between the law and responsible investigative journalism." It said that it had authorized Sky journalists to access email addresses connected to the "canoe man," whose wife was accused of helping her husband fake his death in 2008. Sky said it then provided the messages to the police, helping to secure a conviction. In a second case, it claims its reporters hacked the email accounts of a suspected pedophile and his wife, an act that did not result in any information being released as a news or police report.

Sky says it stands by its decisions, arguing that they were "editorially justified." However, its admission was prompted by a Guardian report on possible hacking in its previous cases. To be sure, other news outlets have published information that was obtained, at some point, unlawfully, but actually compromising accounts is far from standard practice, and News Corp hasn't built up a lot of credibility with its previous actions. Parent company BSkyB is also under investigation in the aftermath of the Murdoch phone hacking scandal, and chairman James Murdoch stepped down earlier this week.