Detective faces jail for offering hacking probe leaks to NOTW

 

April Casburn’s high-flying career in the police ended in disgrace tonight when she was convicted of offering to leak details of the phone hacking inquiry to the News of the World.

The Detective Chief Inspector, one of the country’s few top female counter-terrorism officers, stood impassively in the dock at Southwark Crown Court as she was found guilty of misconduct in public office.

She became the first person for six years to be convicted for a crime arising out of the phone hacking scandal.

The judge, Mr Justice Adrian Fulford, warned Casburn that she faced a jail term, raising the prospect that she will be separated from her newly-adopted three-year-old child.

A brief, early-morning phone call to the News of the World on Saturday 11 September 2010 wrecked her 20 years of unblemished service in the Metropolitan Police.

Casburn, 53, from Chelmsford in Essex, who had joined the armed forces as a teenager and then run pubs with her first husband, with whom she had two children, spent her first seven years with the London force in child protection.

By 2009, she was running the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, a 60-strong team in Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command SO15.

She had grown disillusioned with the male-dominated anti-terrorist command, where she had a strained relationship with her line manager and where, unlike more junior male officers, she had been left without a desk. She was also struggling personally; her second marriage was crumbling.

She told Southwark Crown Court that she became infuriated when she discovered in September 2010 that S015 would be carrying out Operation Varec into fresh allegations in the New York Times that phone hacking had been rife at the News of the World.

She told the jury that her male colleagues had viewed the inquiry as a “bit of a jolly” with travel and the opportunity to meet celebrities such as Sienna Miller.

Five days after the inquiry had been set up, at 7.51am on Saturday 11 September, she called the News of the World while walking to a branch of Tesco in Chelmsford and spoke to a newdesk editor, Tim Wood.

At 8.17am, Mr Wood sent an email to NOTW’s news editor and crime editor, saying that a senior policewoman - who had failed to leave her name - wanted to sell “inside information” on the hacking inquiry.

She disclosed that police wanted to interview six people, naming the paper’s former editor Andy Coulson, then the Prime Minister’s spokesman, and detailed the difficulty her colleagues would have in proving the crime of voicemail interception.

She left her number, saying that anyone calling her back should ask if she was “alright to talk”.

Mr Wood suspected the call was a sting. No story appeared and no payment was made. There the matter might have rested, except that in June 2011 the police began Operation Elveden into the alleged bribery of public officials by journalists.

Scotland Yard found the email in News International’s database, and phone records showed that the number given belonged to the personal mobile phone of one of its senior counter-terrorism officers.  Casburn was arrested at her home on 21 December 2011.

Confronted by the email and phone record evidence, she eventually admitted, in May 2012, that she had called the paper, but insisted she had been acting as a whistleblower to draw attention to the waste of counter-terrorism assets and had not asked for money.

But she struggled to give a coherent reason why of all the media outlets in Britain, she had called the News of the World.

Her lawyer, Patrick Gibbs, asked the judge to spare the officer jail on account of her child, but Mr Justice Fulford said a custodial sentence was a real possibility given the jury’s verdict “and the breach of trust that the offence involves.” He adjourned sentencing until the end of this month.

Outside court, Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs, who is leading the Met’s inquiries into corruption and phone hacking, said: “There must be occasions when putting certain information into the public domain – so called ‘whistle-blowing’ – can be justified. This was not one of them.

“In this case DCI Casburn proactively approached the News of the World - the very newspaper being investigated - for money. She betrayed the service and her colleagues.”

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices