British detective found guilty in hacking scandal
LONDON (AP) -- A senior British counterterrorism detective was found guilty Thursday 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 the 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 that Casburn "sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation at the point of its launch" and accused her of malicious behavior.
Casburn, 53, who managed the Metropolitan Police terrorist financing investigation unit, had denied the charges. She admitted contacting the newspaper but denied that she has offered confidential information or sought payment.
Jurors at Southwark Crown Court found her guilty of one count of misconduct. She is the first person convicted in the hacking scandall since the police investigation was reopened in 2011. She will be sentenced later this month.
The long-running phone hacking scandal has led to dozens of arrests. It involved allegations of illegal snooping on celebrities, crime victims, politicians and others.
Murdoch closed the News of the World tabloid after many of its misdeeds were exposed.
Tim Wood, the News of the World news editor who took Casburn's call, had told the court that she had expressed concern that counterterrorism 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.
"The one thing that stands out in my mind is the fact that she kept going on about Lord Prescott," Wood said. "Her saying that he was pressing for them to put charges on the News of the World, and she was saying that she felt it was wrong that he was interfering in the scandal, so to speak, and she resented that."
A News of the World reporter and a private investigator were jailed in 2007 for hacking into the voicemails of royal aides. But the newspaper denied there was a wider problem, and a police investigation did not lead to further charges.
Police reopened the investigation in early 2011 amid new evidence about the scale of the law-breaking.
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