A senior woman officer of Scotland Yard, investigating the phone hacking scandal, was on Thursday found guilty of leaking confidential information to the now defunct News of the World.
Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn (53), head of a counter-terrorism unit, is the first person to be prosecuted under ‘Operation Elveden’ inquiring into allegations of journalists paying bribes to public officials for stories. She admitted calling up the paper and offering information but denied asking for money.
Though the newspaper did not print the story and no money changed hands, the prosecutor said she was guilty of a “gross breach” of public trust.
Her conduct threatened to “undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation”.
“With or without money, there is no reasonable excuse or justification,” said the prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron.
Ms. Casburn, who was released on bail pending sentencing later this month because she is in the process of adopting a child, said she offered the information in public interest.
She was angry that her team whose job was to save lives by focusing on counter-terror work had been diverted to investigate the hacking allegations. It might have been a “foolish” decision but she felt going to the press was “the only option” to make her concerns public.
“It was foolish, but she wouldn’t look so foolish now if a bomb had gone off when a lot of counter-terror people we interviewing Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant,” her lawyer told the jury.
The court heard that on September 11, 2010, Ms. Casburn spoke to journalist Tim Wood, complaining and complained about pressure from John Prescott , former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, over the investigation and gave the names of two former NoW journalists under investigation, Andy Coulson and Sean Hoare.