In January 2013, a British senior police officer became the first person prosecuted as a result of the UKs £40m, phone-hacking investigation. Today she was sentenced to 15-months in jail.
On January 10, Digital Journal reported that a British senior police officer, April Casburn, 53, had been found guilty of misconduct in public office. The judge warned Ms Casburn, when she was convicted, that she could face a lengthy jail term. Friday she was sentenced to 15-months in jail.
The judge reduced a three-year jail term as Casburn is still in the process of adopting a 3-year-old child.
Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, held a leading role in Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism command. Allegedly unhappy with her work, and the fact that money and resources were being diverted from her department to the phone hacking investigations, Casburn contacted Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid offering information for cash.
Throughout her trial Ms Casburn maintained that she was 'whistle-blowing' and did nothing wrong. She claimed that she had contacted the News of the World, in September 2010, out of 'public interest'. Mr Justice Fulford, the judge, told her that was not the case but rather it was "a corrupt attempt to make money out of sensitive and potentially very damaging information".
During her trial Casburn vehemently denied asking for money. The journalist who she spoke to disagreed. After receiving Casburn's call the journalist immediately contacted his editor, and said that she had asked for money. The information she offered related to an earlier phone hacking investigation, which had been stopped three-years earlier.
Casburn allegedly phoned the News of the World tabloid and disclosed that six people were being investigated. These included Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor who was, at the time, Prime Minister David Cameron's communications director, reports TEKJournalismUK. The information was confidential, and it came from the phone hacking investigation
Her defense team pushed for a suspended sentence. Ultimately she received the 15-month jail term, much less than the five-year term of imprisonment the judge had threatened.
In sentencing her the judge refuted her 'whistle-blowing' claims. The information which she passed to the tabloid was not published and no money change hands. Had it done so the judge claimed he had no doubt she would have taken the money.
Ironically evidence leading to the prosecution of Ms Casburn was provided by an internal investigative unit, known as the management and standards committee. This committee was created by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Its formation was part of his pledge to hand over to the police any incriminating information discovered as News Corporation examined documents an emails, reports the New York Times.
Ms Casburn was head of the counter terrorism unit’s financial investigative team. The team tracked the financing of terrorist organisations and operations.
In sentencing judge Sir Adrian Fulford told Casburn, Activity of this kind is deeply damaging to the administration of criminal justice in this country. We are entitled to expect the very highest standards of probity from our police officers, particularly those at a senior level.
Casburn will face disciplinary proceedings, under the Official Secrets Act. 'Her arrest was one of 59 that have been made as part of the ongoing Operation Elveden investigation' reports the BBC.
She is the first to be convicted and sentenced.