Met officer jailed over data offer

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: April Casburn offered to sell information about the new investigation into phone hacking April Casburn offered to sell information about the new investigation into phone hacking

A senior detective has been jailed for 15 months in the first conviction brought under fresh investigations into corruption and phone hacking.

Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn was sentenced at the Old Bailey for misconduct in public office for offering to sell information to the News of the World (NotW).

The 53-year-old was jailed despite being in the process of adopting a child with her partner. Questions were also raised about why she was apparently not protected as a journalistic source.

Casburn called the NotW on September 11, 2010 and offered to sell information about the new investigation into phone hacking.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Fulford told her it was "a corrupt attempt to make money out of sensitive and potentially very damaging information". The judge said if she were not involved in the adoption process he would have jailed her for three years.

He said her offence could not be described as whistle-blowing, and continued: "If the News of the World had accepted her offer, it's clear, in my view, that Ms Casburn would have taken the money and, as a result, she posed a significant threat to the integrity of this important police investigation."

The judge went on: "Activity of this kind is deeply damaging to the administration of criminal justice in this country. It corrodes the public's faith in the police force, it can lead to the acquittal or the failure by the authorities to prosecute individuals who have committed offences whether they are serious or otherwise. We are entitled to expect the very highest standards of probity from our police officers, particularly those at a senior level. It is, in my judgment, a very serious matter indeed when men or women who have all the benefits, privileges and responsibilities of public office use their position for corrupt purposes."

Casburn, from Hatfield Peverel in Essex, claimed she contacted the tabloid because she was concerned about counter-terror resources being wasted on the phone hacking inquiry, which her colleagues saw as "a bit of a jolly".

The detective denied asking for money, but the journalist she spoke to, Tim Wood, said in an email that she "wanted to sell inside information". Mr Justice Fulford said: "It seems to me Mr Wood was a reliable, honest and disinterested witness. He had absolutely no reason to lie." Writing for website Exaro, Mr Wood said he felt "sympathy" for Casburn. He and Scotland Yard have claimed News Corporation's standards committee handed his email to police. He said News International "broke the first rule of journalism by failing to protect a confidential source".

Casburn was facing a separate charge under the Official Secrets Act, which could only be dealt with by magistrates, but the prosecution offered no evidence in that matter. Scotland Yard said disciplinary proceedings against the officer will begin.

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