Officer is first phone hacking conviction - The Guardian

Officer is first phone hacking conviction - The Guardian

London : United Kingdom | Jan 11, 2013 at 2:07 AM PST
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Officer is first phone hacking conviction

Detective faces jail for trying to sell information to News of the World. A senior police officer has become the first person to be convicted as a result of the £40m investigations into phone hacking and corruption of public officials. Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, was found guilty of misconduct in public office at Southwark crown court after the jury decided she had tried to sell information from the phone-hacking inquiry, which was set up in 2010, to the News of the World. Mr Justice Fulford warned Casburn, a mother of three, that she faced an immediate custodial sentence and the Metropolitan police said she had “betrayed the service and let down her colleagues”. But Patrick Gibbs QC, her counsel, asked the judge to take into account the fact that Casburn was in the process of adopting a child. Sources close to her said she was reeling after being told she could face a five-year jail term because the judge wanted to make an example of her. The offence took place as the Metropolitan police were forced to re-examine allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World after revelations in the Guardian and the New York Times that the activity was widespread and not just relegated to “one rogue reporter” as News International, the publisher of the now defunct tabloid, had maintained for years. It spawned three linked investigations – Operations Weeting, Elvedon and Tuleta – into phone and computer hacking and the corruption of public officials. Casburn is the first to be convicted in any of them. Fourteen individuals, including the former NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, the ex-NoW editor and former No 10 director of communications, face trial later this year for offences including perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to illegally intercept phone messages. The charges include allegations that some of the 14 were involved in hacking into the mobile phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. The jury in the Casburn trial believed the crown’s case that she had asked for money and sought to give the newspaper at the centre of the investigation information. Det Chief Supt Gordon Briggs, who oversees Operations Weeting, Elvedon and Tuleta, said: “It is a great disappointment that a detective chief inspector in the counterterrorism command should have abused her position in this way. “There’s no place for corrupt officers or staff in the Metropolitan police service. We hope that the prosecution demonstrates that leaking or in this case trying to sell confidential information to journalists for personal gain will not be tolerated. “There may be occasions when putting certain information into the public domain, so called whistleblowing, can be justified. This was not one of them. In this case DCI Casburn approached the News of the World, the very newspaper being investigated, to make money.” Casburn, who was manager of the national financial investigation unit with counterterrorism, claimed she had never asked for money when she telephoned the News of the World on 11 September 2010. She said she made the call because she was concerned that resources from counterterrorism and her unit were to be diverted into a new phone-hacking investigation. She had attended a meeting with colleagues the day before in which it was revealed that John Yates, the Met’s then assistant commissioner, was to reopen the phone-hacking investigation. She said her colleagues were joking about the inquiry, and were excited about who would get to interview Sienna Miller. “I felt very strongly that we shouldn’t be doing hacking. Our function was to prevent terrorist attacks and I was particularly worried that the behaviour of my colleagues was such that they thought it was a bit of a jolly. It made me really angry.” She said she regretted making the telephone call but defended ringing a newspaper because she said she was not an influential member of the counterterrorism team and would not have been listened to if she raised concerns. She said she had been bullied for two years. “I think in some circumstances it is right to go to the press, because they do expose wrongdoing and they expose poor decisions,” she said. But the jury rejected her defence, accepting the crown’s case that she had phoned the NoW to say that Coulson and five other people were being investigated by the Met and had asked for payment for the information. Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, said she was tipping off the paper and offering to sell information.

worldnewspapersco is based in Lárisa, Voria Ellada, Greece, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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