A senior Metropolitan Police officer made a “malicious decision” to telephone the News of the World newspaper and “get some money” in exchange for information about a police investigation into phone hacking, prosecutors alleged on Wednesday.
April Casburn, a detective chief inspector who managed the national financial investigations team in the Met’s counter-terrorism unit, is alleged to have asked the News of the World for money in exchange for information in September 2010.
She denies one charge of misconduct in a public office.
In his closing speech, Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecutor, told a jury at Southwark Crown Court that this was about her “phoning up for money and dishing dirt” rather than, as she said, raising concerns about counter-terrorism resources being diverted to the phone-hacking investigation in 2010.
She is alleged to have phoned the News of the World newsdesk at 7.51am on September 11 2010, to report that six people were being investigated by the police over alleged phone hacking.
She is said to have offered to “sell inside information” about an investigation the Met had launched in September 2010, in the wake of fresh phone-hacking allegations made in the New York Times.
Mr Bryant-Heron told the jury in his closing speech that Ms Casburn’s motivation to make the phone call was “not resources” but money and added: “Of all the papers in all the world, who did she go to?”
“The action of a senior police officer in contacting the News of the World – the very newspaper that was the subject of the inquiry – to release details of that investigation . . . That act with or without money . . . has no reasonable excuse or justification,” he told the jury.
Giving evidence, Ms Casburn said she was angry that resources used for fighting terrorism had been diverted to phone hacking and likened the male-dominated office culture to Life on Mars, a TV series about the police.
She said in evidence that other officers saw the phone-hacking inquiry as a “jolly” and joked about who was going to travel to interview the actress Sienna Miller.
Patrick Gibbs QC, representing Ms Casburn, told the court that her “extremely foolish” 8½ minute phone call to the News of the World had been because she was “appalled” by the decision to divert resources.
“If a bomb had gone off on a Tube train when S015 people [the anti-terror unit] were interviewing Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant she’d look a lot less stupid now,” he told the jury.
He added the information she gave to the News of the World about the two named individuals was already in the public domain.
He also told the court that there was a “huge difference” between internal disciplinary proceedings and criminal proceedings.
“You are not deciding whether she should be sacked for what she did,” he told the jury adding that they now had to decide whether Ms Casburn’s actions made her a criminal “just like the ones she spent the previous 18 years trying to catch”.
The case continues. The jury are due to be sent out to consider their verdicts on Thursday morning.
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