The Attorney General was given the go-ahead on Monday to launch contempt of court proceedings against television broadcaster BSkyB's Sky News for being too quick to report the release last year of a British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates.

Paul and Rachel Chandler were freed in Somalia on November 14, 2010, more than a year after they were seized aboard their yacht near the Seychelles archipelago.

To protect them during their captivity, the British Foreign Office had obtained an injunction banning news organisations from releasing any information about them until they were freed and had reached a place of safety out of Somalia.

Sky, which is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, was one of the first news outlets to report the couple's release, and the government says the rolling news channel violated the order because the pair were not yet out of harm's way when it broke the news.

Lord Justice Martin Moore-Bick, sitting at the High Court, said: We are satisfied this is a proper case for the Attorney General to be allowed to pursue the matter, according to the Press Association.

Sky, which was not represented at the brief hearing, said it had scrupulously observed the terms of the injunction and had followed the spirit, if not the letter of the order.

Journalistic practices are under intense scrutiny in Britain following a scandal at the now-closed News of the World newspaper over journalists illegally listening to phone messages, which also sunk News Corp's bid to take full ownership of BSkyB.

The scandal has led to an inquiry into media practices and ethics, headed by judge Brian Leveson, which could result in a shake-up of the current system of self-regulation or tighter media rules.

Appearing before the hearing on Monday were the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. The disclosure in July that messages left on her phone had been hacked disgusted the nation and was the tipping point in the long-running scandal.

Others appearing before the hearing include actor Hugh Grant and Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

News Corp put on hold its bid to buy the 61 percent share of BSkyB it did not already own in the summer, as politicians turned against the media mogul for his handling of the scandal which damaged the value and reputation of the company.

Earlier on Monday BSkyB said it had appointed external lawyers to review the emails of some of its most successful journalists to check that there were no signs of illegal newsgathering.

Earlier this month BSkyB's independent directors unanimously backed James Murdoch as chairman in a letter addressing shareholders' concerns about his suitability following the phone-hacking scandal, since he was also chairman of News Corp's British newspaper arm News International.

Two appearances before British lawmakers had raised questions about Murdoch's integrity and his ability to continue to be effective in his role at BSkyB.

But the independent directors said Murdoch had done a first class job in leading an effective board.

BSkyB will hold its annual meeting on November 29.

(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)