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CPS rules that Sky News email hacking of canoe-man John Darwin was in the public interest

By Press Gazette


The Crown Prosecution Service has said that journalists can hack emails in the “public interest” dropping the case against Sky News journalist Gerald Tubb.

Tubb faced police action after hacking into Yahoo! Email account of John Darwin, the man from Seaton Carew who faked his own death in 2002 so his wife could claim hundreds of thousands from insurance schemes and pensions.

Tubb hacked the email account in 2008 with the approval of his managing editor and discovered messages which cast doubt on Mrs Darwin's claim that her “domineering” husband forced her to go through with the fraud plan.

The material was handed over by Sky News to the police and was used in the case against Anne Darwin who was jailed for her part in the fraud.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "In deciding whether any prosecutions should be brought, we carefully considered all the evidence in accordance with the Director of Public Prosecution's guidelines for prosecutors on cases affecting the media. In accordance with these guidelines, provided there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, the critical question prosecutors must ask is whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality.

"On the evidence currently available it is not possible to ascertain whether the potential offence of unlawful interception of a communication was committed in the UK or the US. Although this may warrant further investigation, it has been decided under section 4.2 of the Code for Crown Prosecutors that further investigations are not required as, in accordance with the DPP's guidelines, we do not consider that any potential prosecution would be in the public interest.

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"Having considered the factors set out in the guidelines on cases affecting the media, it is our view that the evidence indicates that the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the potential overall criminality, should an offence be proved. In reaching this decision, we took into account that the emails were accessed with a view to showing that a criminal offence had been committed and that a number of the same emails were subsequently lawfully obtained by the police and used by the prosecution at the criminal trial of Anne Darwin."

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