First conviction in UK hacking scandal

A SENIOR British counter-terrorism detective has been found guilty of trying to sell information to Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid.

Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn was charged with misconduct for allegedly phoning the newspaper and offering to pass on information about whether London’s police force would reopen its stalled phone hacking investigation.

Prosecutors said the newspaper did not print a story based on her call and no money changed hands.

However, they said, she had committed a ‘‘gross breach’’ of  public trust by offering to sell the information.

She was accused of trying to ruin the inquiry by leaking information to the press.

Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron told the jury Casburn ‘‘sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation at the point of its launch’’ and accused her of malicious behaviour.

Casburn, 53, who managed the Metropolitan Police terrorist financing investigation unit, had denied the charges.

She admitted contacting the newspaper but denied she offered confidential information or sought payment.

Tim Wood, the News of the World news editor who took Casburn’s call, told the court she had expressed concern that counter-terrorism resources were being diverted to the phone hacking investigation.

He said she also complained of interference from former deputy prime minister John Prescott, a hacking victim and vocal Murdoch critic.

Mr Bryant-Heron said during the trial that Casburn’s decision to call the newspaper at the centre of the phone hacking scandal, instead of a competing publication, undermined her claim the tip was altruistic.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court yesterday found her guilty of one count of misconduct.

She is the first person convicted in the hacking scandal since the police investigation was reopened in 2011.

She will be sentenced later this month.

Associated Press, Bloomberg

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