First UK hacking inquiry conviction
A senior detective who sold information to a tabloid newspaper became the first person to be convicted under the fresh police investigations into phone hacking and corrupt payments today.
Det chief Insp April Casburn (53) was found guilty of misconduct in public office for offering to sell details to the News of the World.
She admitted contacting the newspaper, claiming she was worried that resources meant for fighting terrorism might be wasted on the phone hacking inquiry, which her colleagues saw “as a bit of a jolly”.
But today jurors at Southwark Crown Court took just three-and-a-half hours to unanimously find her guilty.
Mr Justice Fulford warned she is likely to face jail, despite being in the process of adopting a three-year-old child.
He said: “A real possibility is an immediate custodial sentence, but I’m obviously going to have to consider very carefully the issues that we’ve ventilated this afternoon and any other mitigation.”
Det chief Insp Casburn was managing the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit when she made the call on September 11th, 2010.
She told the court she was angered by her colleagues’ attitudes to the phone hacking inquiry, and said there was “palpable excitement” over who would get to meet Hollywood actress Sienna Miller.
Det chief Insp Casburn, from Hatfield Peverel in Essex, likened the male-dominated unit to the TV series Life On Mars.
Speaking outside court today, Det Chief Supt Gordon Briggs, who is overseeing the inquiries into phone hacking, corrupt payments and other privacy breaches, said: “It’s totally unacceptable for a serving police officer to leak confidential information to journalists for private gain. In doing so they let down the public and they let down their hard-working, honest colleagues.
“To act in that way is a gross breach of public trust. I hope today’s verdict demonstrates our commitment to rooting out this kind of corruption and demonstrates that corruption of this kind will not be tolerated in the Metropolitan Police Service.”
Det Chief Supt Briggs said that this was not a case of whistle-blowing, despite Casburn’s claims that she was concerned about counter-terrorism resources being wasted.
He said: “There may be occasions when putting certain information in the public domain, so-called whistleblowing, may be tolerated. This is not one of them.”
Greg McGill, a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, said: “DCI Casburn has been found guilty of misconduct in public office - not only did she seek to divulge confidential information, she sought to leak details of a case to the very newspaper under investigation. This is a very serious offence and the jury has today agreed that DCI Casburn’s actions were criminal.”
She will be sentenced in the week beginning January 28th.