Detective April Casburn 'offered NoW leaks for cash'

April Casburn
Image caption April Casburn says she was concerned that resources may have been diverted from anti-terrorism work

A former counter-terrorism detective offered information about the phone hacking inquiry to the News of the World for money, a court has heard.

Det Chief Insp April Casburn is accused over Operation Varec, which considered whether Scotland Yard's inquiry into phone hacking should be reopened.

Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron said she "sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation".

Ms Casburn denies one charge of misconduct in public office.

The charge relates to 11 September 2010 when Ms Casburn, 53, from Hatfield Peverel, Essex, was working in counter-terrorism, managing the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.

Southwark Crown Court heard one of her team had been asked to carry out financial investigations as part of the Scotland Yard inquiry into phone hacking.

'Breach of trust'

It is alleged Ms Casburn rang the NoW's news desk at 07.51 BST to offer information in exchange for payment.

She gave the names of two of the people under investigation during the conversation, it is said.

Mr Bryant-Heron said: "The prosecution says she sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation at the point of its launch.

"The prosecution says, and it's a matter for you 12, that the act of telephoning the News of the World to offer to sell information and the provision of some information during that call was misconduct, it was misconduct in public office.

"It was a gross breach of the trust that the public places in a police officer not to disclose information on a current investigation in an unauthorised way, or to offer to do so in the future for payment."

The newspaper did not publish anything and no payment changed hands, the court heard.

Mr Bryant-Heron said Ms Casburn admits making the phonecall but denies asking for money, and says she had a reasonable excuse.

She says she was concerned that resources that were supposed to be used to combat terrorism were being allocated to the phone hacking investigation, and that much of the information was already public knowledge.

The court heard the call was taken by NoW journalist Tim Wood - who said she refused to give her name, but introduced herself as a senior police officer.

Mr Wood told the jury: "The one thing that stands out in my mind is the fact that she kept going on about Lord Prescott.

"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."

He added: "She was almost justifying her call by saying that it was this interference by Prescott that had upset her."

The detective told him six people were under investigation including former NoW editor Andy Coulson and reporter Sean Hoare, Mr Wood said.

'Cordial' relationship

The court then heard from Det Supt Christos Kalamatianos who led the 60-strong National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.

He said his relationship with Ms Casburn was "cordial", but she had accused him of failing to support her and the unit on one or two occasions.

She broke down in tears in the dock as her former colleague gave evidence and was comforted by a member of her legal team.

When questioned about his working relationship with the defendant, Mr Kalamatianos told the court: "I believe I was managing her sensitively, I don't know that I was managing her well."

Meanwhile, Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Haydon, who led Operation Varec in September 2010, told jurors that one financial investigator on Operation Varec admitted he had been at a dinner party with a journalist who worked for the Sun, and had discussed phone hacking.

That investigator was subsequently removed from the team.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.