Reuters has hit back at claims by Swedish applications software company Intentia that the news agency used illegal methods to gain early access to the company’s financial results.
In a statement it said: "Reuters Stockholm news bureau accessed Intentia's own public website and found information on Intentia's results ahead of its scheduled release time. This information was not accessed from a private or password protected site but from the public internet."
Reuters reported Intentia's figures in the hours ahead of their scheduled publication at midday on Oct 24. Geert Linnebank, editor-in-chief of Reuters, insists the results were freely available on Intentia's website and denied that his staff had used software or a password to retrieve the information before it was released to the market.
"Reuters is in the business of informing the market with breaking news stories using all the tools at its disposal, but doing so in a legitimate, ethical manner with journalistic integrity,” he said.
But Intentia chief executive Bjorn Algkvist said: "The incident has severely damaged confidence in us as individuals and in Intentia as a company. We question the methods used by Reuters and our judgement is that we cannot rule out the possibility of illegal actions."
Intentia is determined to press ahead with its complaint. It yesterday filed a complaint to local police on the incident, claiming Reuters took the data illegally and arguing that laws protecting its computer systems had been broken because the data was not on a public part of the website.
The software supplier filed its complaint with the Swedish National Criminal Investigation Department's computer crime division, alleging that on the day of its third-quarter results last Thursday, someone using a Reuters internet address made attempts to access the information before finally retrieving the results at 12.51pm. Reuters then published a news flash of Intentia's results at 12.57pm, it claims, forcing the company to bring forward its official release to 1.22pm.