Broadcaster cleared of hacking into email account of canoe conman John Darwin

John Darwin
John Darwin

A BROADCASTER has been cleared of breaching regulations after one of its reporters hacked into an email account of canoe conman John Darwin.

Copies of the documents that Gerard Tubb, Sky News North of England correspondent, uncovered were used by Cleveland Police in the trial of Darwin’s wife Anne.

File photo dated 02/03/11 of the Sky News logo as Ofcom is launching an investigation into the hacking of private email accounts by Sky News. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 23, 2012. It follows an admission from the broadcaster earlier this month that it accessed the accounts of 'canoe man' John Darwin and his wife Anne, as well as those of a suspected paedophile. Ofcom confirmed today that it is investigating the 'fairness and privacy issues' raised by the hacking. See PA story MEDIA Ofcom. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire

File photo dated 02/03/11 of the Sky News logo as Ofcom is launching an investigation into the hacking of private email accounts by Sky News. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 23, 2012. It follows an admission from the broadcaster earlier this month that it accessed the accounts of 'canoe man' John Darwin and his wife Anne, as well as those of a suspected paedophile. Ofcom confirmed today that it is investigating the 'fairness and privacy issues' raised by the hacking. See PA story MEDIA Ofcom. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire

But Ofcom has cleared the British broadcaster of breaching regulations.

Earlier this year the Crown Prosecution Service said a prosecution would not be in the public interest and the reporter was told he would not be facing any criminal charges.

Sky News had announced last April that it had authorised one of its reporters to access the email of individuals suspected of criminal activity.

Neither of the Darwin’s had complained but Ofcom said they had a “general duty” to investigate possible infringements of privacy in the light of public concern around unauthorised accessing of emails and voicemails by journalists.

Mr Darwin and his wife Anne embarked on a new life in Panama after he faked his death in March 2002 by apparently vanishing off the coast in a supposed canoeing accident.

He turned up at a police station in November 2007, claiming he was a missing person with amnesia, but the ruse fell to pieces when a photo taken in Panama of the couple turned up on the internet.

During the trial at Teesside Crown Court in 2008 the jury heard they tricked police, a coroner, financial institutions and even sons Mark and Anthony into believing the ex-prison officer was dead.

During the trial, Anne Darwin claimed she was forced into the scam by her husband, but she was jailed for six-and-a-half years for her part in the swindle.

Her husband was sent to prison for six years and three months.

A spokeswoman for BSkyB said they noted the announcement.