UK

Detective April Casburn: NoW cash claim 'ludicrous'

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Media captionThe BBC's June Kelly says Ms Casburn described the atmosphere in Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism unit as "Life on Mars in the 21st century"

An ex-counter-terrorism detective has told a court it was "ludicrous" to suggest she offered information to the News of the World for money.

Det Chief Insp April Casburn said she spoke to the paper because she was angry resources were being moved from her unit to investigate phone hacking.

Male colleagues saw that inquiry as a "jolly" and a chance to meet celebrity hacking victim Sienna Miller, she said.

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 that one of her team was asked to carry out financial investigations as part of a Scotland Yard inquiry into phone hacking, Operation Varec.

'Regret decision'

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.

Appearing in court, Ms Casburn said: "I regret the decision."

Asked by Patrick Gibbs QC, for Ms Casburn, about whether she offered to sell inside information during her conversation with the NoW, she said: "No. I find the whole sentence ludicrous."

Ms Casburn went on: "I felt very strongly that we shouldn't be doing hacking. Our function was to prevent terrorist attacks and I was particularly worried that the behaviour of my colleagues was such that they thought it was a bit of a jolly.

"They thought it was all going to be a bit of fun, getting to travel, getting to see famous people.

"I felt sufficiently strongly we should not be diverting resources which are to do with saving people's lives. It made me really angry," she added.

Frustration about this prompted Ms Casburn to contact the NoW on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York, the court was told.

She said she felt she could not speak out against the phone-hacking investigation plans, which had been re-opened by the then assistant commissioner John Yates.

'Denied a desk'

"I didn't believe I could make any difference to the decision-making around using counter-terrorist assets for the phone-hacking inquiry," said Ms Casburn.

Describing the "very male-dominated" atmosphere at her unit, Ms Casburn likened it to the TV series Life On Mars.

Some male colleagues had frozen her out, playing golf together, and she was "denied a desk despite being a chief inspector," the court was told.

She said she failed to give a coherent statement about the NoW phone call at the time of her arrest because she was under stress - in 2010 she was dealing with an acrimonious divorce and a failed IVF procedure with her new partner.

In a statement given to the court on Tuesday, she denied offering information to the NoW for money, explaining she did not need the money as both she and her partner were well paid, with substantial savings.

Earlier, the court also heard from Det Supt Dean Hayden who was the detective in charge of the 2010 hacking probe Operation Varec.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

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