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British detective jailed for offering hacking scandal leaks

February 01, 2013

In this Jan 10, 2013 file photo Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn of the London Metropolitan Police leaves Southwark Crown Court in London. — Photo by AP

LONDON: A British counter-terrorism detective was jailed for 15 months on Friday for trying to sell information about a phone hacking investigation to the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid.

April Casburn, 53, is the first person to be sent to prison since Scotland Yard's inquiry into the illegal hacking of mobile phone voicemails by the now defunct tabloid was reopened two years ago.

Her lawyers had asked for a suspended sentence because Casburn is in the process of adopting a three-year-old child, but the judge at the Old Bailey court in London said the case was too serious.

Judge Adrian Fulford told her it was “a corrupt attempt to make money out of sensitive and potentially very damaging information”.

Casburn was convicted by a jury in January of misconduct in a public office for offering the News of the World information about whether the phone hacking probe would be reopened.

At the time of the offence in Sept 2010, Casburn was working in Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism unit, managing the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.

Her trial heard that she rang the News of the World's news desk early one morning to offer information in exchange for payment.

Casburn admitted contacting the newspaper, but denied asking for money or offering any information that was not already in the public domain, saying she was angry at what she perceived as political interference in the case.

The hacking scandal has grown in scale since a News of the World reporter and a private investigator were jailed in 2007 for hacking the voicemails of royal aides.

The tabloid denied there was a bigger problem, but when wider evidence of illegal hacking emerged in 2011 the police investigation was re-opened.

Revelations that the News of the World had hacked celebrities and the voicemail of murdered teenage girl Milly Dowler led Murdoch to shut down the tabloid in July 2011.

The probe then expanded to include corrupt payments by journalists to public officials.