The Guardian reports that a senior police officer has become the first person to be convicted after the police investigations into allegations of phone hacking and the corruption of public officials.
Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, was found guilty of misconduct in public office at the Southwark Crown Court last week. She was warned by the Judge that she should expect an immediate custodial sentence and was condemned by the Metropolitan Police. She was further told that she should expect a strong sentence from the Judge so as to make an example of her – this could mean a sentence of up to five years in custody for Mrs Casburn.
Charges were brought against Mrs Casburn last year after the massive inquiry and police investigation into allegations of phone hacking and the corruption of police officers. These allegations resulted in three separate police investigations – Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleda.
Mrs Casburn, who was manager of the national financial investigation unit with counterterrorism, made a call to the News of the World on 11 September 2010 after she had attended a meeting the day before which revealed substantive information about further police investigations into the allegations of hacking at News of the World. At the meeting it was disclosed that John Yates, the ex-assistant police commissioner, was to re-open the phone hacking investigation. Mrs Casburn made the call to the newspaper the next day but denied that she had done so in return for any money. She said that she was concerned that the police were re-investigating the hacking allegations and that their focus should instead have been on the prevention of terrorist attacks. She further stated that if she had tried to whistleblow to her superiors then she wouldn’t have been taken seriously and that she was effectively left with no option but to telephone the newspaper and disclose the confidential information. She added that she had been bullied for more than two years at the Metropolitan Police.
The jury rejected Mrs Casburn’s defence and accepted the Crown Prosecution Service’s case that she had made the call to disclose information about Andy Coulson (a previous editor of the News of the World) and five other members of staff in return for a payment of money.
Mrs Casburn now faces sentencing. Her criminal defence lawyer, Patrick Gibbs QC, stated that he would be seeking a suspended sentence. It is believed that Mrs Casburn is currently suspended from the Met Police and may face being dismissed as a result of her conviction. It is not known whether she has consulted employment law solicitors.
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