When The Sky Really Is the Limit

Tv news station Sky has admitted it hacked into emails for a story…but it was in the public interest. The public what? asks Richard Lutz

Earlier this week James Murdoch left the board of Sky. He said he didn’t want his other troubles with creepy News of the World and the deluded and deranged Sun newspaper to sully his beloved station. He is after all a tv man and was never that interested in his father’s ink and paper industries.

But now his  tv station has thrown its hands up and said its reporters hacked into emails for a story. Albeit the victim was a high profile insurance conman. But it was in the public interest nonetheless even though technically a crime.

It said it acted because  its viewers had a right to know about this conman and then handed over the illegal information to the police.

So, now I get it. Sky (and for that matter The Sun, The dead News of the World and yea, even the saintly Guardian) carry out criminal acts for our interest.

Well, alot of the public are interested in porn, acts of violence and other unseemly things that would go down well with a large viewership. Why doesn’t it reveal those things on our screens?

Who is judge and jury of what ‘public interest’  is? It is simple. It is the media’s owners’ and bosses’ opinions who want to justify juicy stories. What is public interest to me, in short, may not be of public interest to you.

The term is bandied around and somehow police, regulators and prosecutors sagely nod their heads and ignore the issue of illegal acts.

To hack into someone’s emails (even though a stupid insurance conman who made believe he was dead) is straightforward breaking and entering.

I would go before the judge for using a jimmy and stepping into my neighbour’s house for his 48 inch flatscreen. I would go to court for running up to a woman in a car park and taking her handbag as she went to load up her car. And I would definitely be talking to a lawyer if I grabbed a a load of credit cards from a wallet that someone left on a counter.

But does that mean if I said it was in my own defined sense of ‘the public interest’,  that it would mean the cops would leave me alone?


Sky’s news boss John Ryley said:

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.

But that’s not the point. The point is someone in Sky made a conscious pre meditative decision  to break  laws- our laws- based on a undefined premise of what is in our interest. It is, simply, nonsense and pure self delusion.

The police must – and must be seen- to start interviewing top Sky bosses and their reporters to see if charges are laid. If they are, then e-thieves must go before a court and if found guilty face the music. Just like the guy who steals your tv, the person who steals a wallet and the thief who grabs the plastic cards.

Public interest is a badly abused term to suit the media’s purpose. It might reveal fascinating stuff such as the ludicrous expenses that greedy MPs claim. But it is information illegally received nonetheless.

As for Mr Murdoch – questions must be asked if he left the Sky house on Monday knowing this story about his beloved pristine  Sky News was about to break.

Now that WOULD be in the public interest