Top Met Officer Guilty Over 'Cash For Leaks'

Martin Brunt, Crime Correspondent

A senior Scotland Yard officer has been found guilty of misconduct in public office for offering the News Of The World confidential information in return for money.

April Casburn, who ran the Yard's National Terrorist Financial Investigation unit, had denied the offence although she admitted calling the NOTW and passing on details of the inquiry.

She said she did it because she was concerned that counter-terror police were being diverted from saving lives to investigate hacking.

Detective Chief Inspector Casburn, from Hatfield Peverel in Essex, remained impassive as the verdict was read out.

Prosecutors said she had tried to undermine the hacking investigation by offering to leak details to the Sunday tabloid.

She telephoned the paper early on September 11, 2010 and spoke to journalist Tim Wood, complaining about pressure from Lord Prescott over the probe and giving the names of two former NOTW journalists under investigation - Andy Coulson and Sean Hoare.

Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron told the jury at Southwark Crown Court in his closing speech: "With or without money, there is no reasonable excuse or justification.

"The damage being done here is that the public are entitled to have confidence in the police and their procedures when they pursue sensitive investigations."

He said DCI Casburn had behaved "disgracefully" and her actions had been "malicious."

Mr Bryant-Heron continued: "Without wanting to sound like Humphrey Bogart, of all the papers in all the world who did she go to?

'It's like having a criminal investigation and going to the suspect and telling them what you are up to."

Casburn had told the jury she was "foolish" to make the call, but felt it was the only way of making her concerns public.

She said that going to the press "may be the only option that's open to individuals."

She said she had been off work sick with stress, was going through a difficult divorce and was trying to adopt a child at the time.

She was angry that counter-terror colleagues were being used to investigate phone hacking and accused them of treating the inquiry as "a jolly."

She described the Yard's male-dominated special operations department as "like something from the TV series Life on Mars" and said there had been "palpable excitement" over which of them would get to interview actress Sienna Miller.

Her lawyer Patrick Gibbs QC said: "It was foolish, but she wouldn't look so foolish now if a bomb had gone off when a lot of counter-terror people were interviewing Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant."

Casburn will be sentenced later this month on a date to be fixed and was released on unconditional bail until then.

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