Police officer jailed over phone hacking


A senior British counter-terrorism police officer is the first person to be convicted following a massive police investigation into alleged phone hacking centred on Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers.

April Casburn (53), who had the rank of detective chief inspector, has been jailed for 15 months for misconduct in a public office after she was found guilty last month of offering to sell details about the phone-hacking inquiry to Mr Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid.

Damaging information

“It was . . . a corrupt attempt to make money out of sensitive and potentially very damaging information,” Mr Justice Adrian Fulford said.

Casburn called the News of the World on September 11th, 2010, when police were at the early stages of examining claims that journalists from the paper had illegally accessed the voicemails of mobile phones in a bid to find stories.

Prosecutors said she had phoned asking for money in an attempt to undermine the investigation because of her perception that she had been wronged and sidelined by police colleagues.

She denied asking for payment and said her intention was to raise the alarm over what she viewed as a waste of counter-terrorism resources on hacking, when they should have been concentrating on preventing attacks in the run-up to the anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Casburn, head of a counter-terrorism financial investigations unit at the time, testified that she had been incensed by the attitude of senior officers.

She said they regarded the hacking probe as “a bit of a jolly” and a chance to interview celebrity hacking victims, such as actor Sienna Miller.

However, Mr Justice Fulford said her actions could not be described as that of a whistleblower, adding if she was not in the process of adopting a child, he would have jailed her for three years.

Top echelons

Casburn is the first person to be convicted in a scandal which escalated into a much wider crisis embroiling the top echelons of the British establishment, media and police, and which led to Murdoch closing down the News of the World in July 2011.

Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp’s British newspaper business and a close confidante of Mr Murdoch, and Andy Coulson, former media chief of prime minister David Cameron, are among those who have also been charged with criminal offences relating to their inquiries. – Reuters