* Sky News admits email hacking on two occasions
* Says actions were justified, in public interest
* Shares down 2.3 percent
(Adds details, background)
LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - Sky News, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire, admitted on Thursday it had hacked into emails on two occasions but said the actions had been editorially justified and were in the public interest.
Murdoch’s son James resigned as chairman of BSkyB BSY.L on Tuesday to prevent a phone-hacking scandal at News Corp’s (NWSA.O) News of the World tabloid newspaper from harming BSkyB, a British pay-tv broadcaster of which News Corp owns 39 percent. [ID:nL6E8F3988]
Sky News, BSkyB‘S news channel, said that on one occasion it authorised a journalist to access the emails of people suspected of criminal activity in the so-called “canoe man” case of a man who faked his own death by paddling out to sea.
“We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” the head of Sky News, John Ryley, said in a statement.
Sky did not say what the second hacking episode was, but media reports said the said journalist accessed the email accounts of a suspected paedophile and his wife in an investigation that did not lead to any material being published or broadcast.
BSkyB were down 2.3 percent on the news at 642.8 pence by 1330 GMT.
BSkyB is being investigated by Britain’s TV watchdog to determine whether it is a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcast licence. The regulator is looking at the broadcaster’s directors and owners.
Ryley said: “Sky News is committed to the highest editorial standards. Like other news organisations, we are acutely aware of the tensions that can arise between the law and responsible investigative journalism.”
Sky News said it had commissioned an external review of its email records and an internal audit of payment records. It said the email review was nearing its conclusion and no grounds for concern had been found.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Paul Hoskins and Giles Elgood)
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