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by Euro Reporter
2012-04-06 09:35:05
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Britain's Sky News reveals email hacking

Britain's Sky News channel twice authorised its reporters to hack into computers, a potentially embarrassing revelation that could further dent the media tycoon's hope of acquiring full control over satellite broadcaster BSkyB. Sky News in the UK said in a statement on Thursday that in one case it broke into emails belonging to Anne and John Darwin, the so-called 'canoe couple' who became notorious in Britain after the latter faked his own death in a boating accident as part of an elaborate insurance scam. The circumstances surrounding the second case weren't made clear. Sky News in the UK acknowledged intercepting the canoe couple's emails, but said the material was later handed to police and insisted it had done nothing wrong.

'We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest. We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently,' Sky News UK chief John Ryley said in a statement on Thursday. He noted that, in a 2004 investigation, a Sky News UK journalist had bought an Uzi submachine gun to illustrate the availability of banned weapons in Britain. In 2003, a reporter sneaked into a restricted area at London's Heathrow Airport to highlight security failings. 'These investigations serve the public interest and are a legitimate part of responsible journalism,' Ryley said. Media frenzy was kicked off when John Darwin - long thought to have died in a boating accident in the North Sea - walked into a London police station in late 2007 and said: 'I think I'm a missing person.' He claimed to have amnesia and said he could remember nothing since 2000, but his story unravelled as journalists and police started digging into his background.

British Sky News didn't identify which of its stories was the result of hacking, but in an article dated July 21, 2008, journalist Gerard Tubb said the channel had uncovered documentary evidence showing that John Darwin had decided to come back to England because he was having trouble staying in Panama. 'We discovered an email,' the article begins, without giving any explanation of how the message was obtained. Sky New UK declined to make Tubb or Ryley available for interviews. The company's public interest defence immediately drew scepticism from British legal experts. David Allen Green, media lawyer at Preiskel Co, said that there was no such thing as a public interest defence as far as Britain's Computer Misuse Act was concerned. 'It is not possible for the editor of any news organisation to authorise criminal acts,' said Green, who's been a frequent critic Murdoch's News Corp. Britain's Crown Prosecution Service can decide, however, that it wouldn't serve the public interest to file charges. 'As Sky News (in the UK) took the hacked emails to the police themselves, it appears that any prosecution was decided not to be in public interest,' Green said in a message posted to Twitter. British Sky's email hacking, first reported in Britain's Guardian newspaper, could be a further headache for Murdoch. His international media empire has spent the better part of a year in the spotlight over widespread illegal behaviour at his now-defunct News of the World tabloid, where journalists routinely hacked into public figures' phones in an effort to win scoops.


Britain avoids recession

The Bank of England held back from giving Britain's fragile recovery an extra boost yesterday, as the economy appears to have narrowly avoided falling back into recession despite a shock drop in manufacturing output in the first months of 2012. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, one Britain's leading economic think tanks, estimated that the economy missed a recession by the smallest possible margin, growing by just 0.1 per cent in the first quarter.

Britain's economy has not recovered fully from the 2007-2009 crisis that left the country poorer and vulnerable to the euro zone's debt problems, which fuelled a fall in output at the end of last year and raised fears of a new downturn. A surprise 1pc dive in UK manufacturing output in February, announced earlier, showed that the economy was still on shaky ground after a series of more upbeat business surveys had indicated that a modest recovery was on track.

Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned of a long and arduous road back to economic health, predicting a bumpy ride for most of 2012 as the dangers from the euro debt crisis linger and events such as an extra public holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee distort the course of the economy. Even a minor technical recession - defined as two consecutive quarters of falling GDP - would be a blow for Finance Minister George Osborne, who defended his tough austerity plan aimed at erasing a huge deficit in last month's budget.


Britain’s Olympic volunteers have possibly the ugliest uniforms ever

Hardly known for their outlandishness, the British volunteer uniform for the upcoming Olympics took a severe turn when colours were decided upon. Somewhat reminiscent of the inside of a Virgin Airlines plane, though maybe more pinkish and purplish, the uniforms are sure to get the volunteers noticed by those who need their assistance.

The outfit consists of a polo shirt with matching fleece, anorak, and rucksack. There’s even a straw hat with a nice pink ribbon sash wrapped around it.

In typical British fashion, reactions to the outfits were polite and subdued. According to the Daily Mail, a marketing manager from London, Danielle Holdsworth said: ‘This is the first time we’ve seen the uniforms, and they’re certainly bright. They are quite out there, but we as ambassadors need to be out there so it’s totally the right thing to wear.’

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