Malaysia Airlines Crash: Sky News Apologizes After Reporter Goes Through Luggage of Victim

Malaysian Airlines Ukraine Map - H 2014

Malaysian Airlines Ukraine Map - H 2014

The reporter for the U.K. news channel, operated by BSkyB, in which 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, picked out items from an open bag near the crash site.

LONDON — U.K. 24-hour news channel Sky News was forced to apologize after a reporter during its coverage of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine went through the luggage of a dead passenger.

In a live report broadcast Sunday afternoon, Sky News presenter Colin Brazier was seen going through the luggage of one of the passengers and picking out items, such as a set of keys and a toothbrush. Realizing the magnitude of his actions on air, he said: "We shouldn't really be doing this, I suppose."

The incident immediately sparked a wave of condemnation on Twitter, with media professor Joe Watson describing it as a "horrible moment for journalism" and BBC radio host Shelagh Fogarty tweeting: "Sky!!! Get your reporter to STOP rummaging thru belongings at #mH17 crash site."

Responding to the criticism, a spokeswoman for Sky News, the news arm of BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns 39 percent, later said: "Today whilst presenting from the site of MH17 air crash, Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims' bags. Colin immediately recognized that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologize profusely for any offense caused."

Sky News added that just "a handful" of complaints had been received over the incident, although many viewers said on Twitter that they were planning to go to U.K. media regulator Ofcom.

Colin Brazier, who has been reporting on the MH17 crash since Thursday, was nominated for Presenter of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards earlier this year.