This article on DCI Casburn trying to sell phone-tapping investigation information to the News of the World is one of the most appalling things I've read recently - not for the writing style (so much) as for what a senior police officer is prepared to do for a relatively small amount of money:
The reporter on the News of the World who took the call, Tim Wood, wrote an email to more senior colleagues, detailing what he claimed had been said. It was the crown's [sic] main evidence against Casburn.Oopsie. Bang goes her claim of a public-interest defence. It's not the first time a casual email has landed someone in the clink, but it's instructive that today it's someone else's casually-written email which has sunk Mrs. Casburn.
It read: "PHONE TAPPING. A senior policewoman ... who claims to be working on the phone-tapping investigation wants to sell inside info on the police inquiry. [...]"
So what's going to happen to her?
Mr Justice Fulford warned Casburn, a mother of three, that she faced an immediate custodial sentence and the Metropolitan police said she had "betrayed the service and let down her colleagues". But Patrick Gibbs QC, her counsel, asked the judge to take into account the fact that Casburn was in the process of adopting a child.Her barrister can seek all he likes. A pending child adoption is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. If a child's moral welfare is an important consideration of adoption, what sort of example does it send for the child to be adopted by a greedy duplicitous woman who abuses the trust placed in her by the public for personal financial gain? A DCI outside London earns £50K-60K depending on experience, and you can add on another £5K or so for London; what was she expecting from the NotW? And how, being a DCI involved in counter-terrorism operations, could she expect this money to not create a paper trail and raise eyebrows? Perhaps she's just not a very good DCI, promoted for reasons other than competence.
Casburn will be sentenced later. Her barrister said he would be seeking a suspended sentence. She is of previous good character and has a flawless disciplinary record.
By the way, has the Guardian adopted "mother of X" as its version of the Daily Mail's "homeowner of a £XXX,000 semi" pointless personal adjunct? How does having 3 children bear on her guilt, culpability or detention prospects?
Frankly I hope that a 5 year sentence is at the low end of what Casburn can expect (in addition to losing her pension). I'm also hoping, but without much expectation of success, that the superiors who repeatedly promoted her will be getting their judgement very carefully scrutinised; I would like to know what it was about her service in the child protection unit that resulted in her repeated promotion and moving into counter-terrorism (what the hell is the connection between the two?) beyond having a pair of boobs. It certainly wasn't any competence in the world of electronic communications.
It's possible I sound somewhat harsh. However I view this as such a fundamental and stupid breach of trust by a senior public official that I can't see anything other than a substantial jail sentence offering sufficient deterrence to others thinking of doing the same thing. If she gets a suspended sentence, it's a clear message that sitting down to pee is a licence to break the law and abuse public trust with relative impunity. If you value the public service of women, this is a message that may not stand.