A computer piracy website, secretly supported by one of Rupert Murdoch's companies, openly promoted advice on how to hack the satellite broadcaster BSkyB's rivals, according to documents seen by the Observer newspaper.
Emails obtained by the newspaper also reveal that a senior employee of NDS, the Murdoch company, insisted he was personally responsible for setting up The House of Ill Compute (Thoic) site. NDS says it paid Thoic's chief hacker, Lee Gibling, for information allowing it to monitor and prosecute software pirates legitimately.
But the documents provide a new perspective on allegations that resurfaced in a BBC Panorama television programme broadcast last week -- more than a decade after they first materialised.
The allegations come as the media regulator Ofcom assesses News Corp's near-40 per cent holding in BSkyB following the phone-hacking scandal that saw the closure of Murdoch's News of the World newspaper.
The website's first 'e-zine', a downloadable magazine, was published in 2001 and shared with the Observer by one of its members. It features two articles about how to hack Sky rival OnDigital's SECA software system.
NDS, which built the software for Murdoch's pay TV platforms around the world, admits paying Gibling tens of thousands of pounds, but insists this was for his help in protecting its own security systems.
Last month News Corp and a venture capital firm announced the sale of NDS to Cisco in a $5bn deal.