A senior detective has revealed her fury at colleagues at the Metropolitan police who viewed the hacking enquiry as a "bit of a jolly" and could hardly contain their excitement about meeting Sienna Miller.
Accused of attempting to sell information to the News of the World, Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn told Southwark Crown Court that she feared that her colleagues thought the investigation would be "a bit of fun".
In a damning testimony, Casburn said she believed resources for fighting crime, saving lives and stopping terrorism were being diverted, and likened her office environment to the TV show 'Life On Mars'.
April Casburn arrives at Southwark Crown Court
She said she felt many people had "no option" but to go to the press to expose wrongdoing.
She is accused of one count of misconduct in public office for allegedly offering information to the News of the World in September 2010, when she was working in counter-terrorism managing the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.
The 53-year-old told jurors she felt resources meant for fighting terrorism should not be diverted.
She said: "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."
At a meeting held the day before she called the NOTW, there was "palpable excitement" about who would get to meet Hollywood actress Sienna Miller, she said.
Sienna Miller, arriving with her legal team at the Leveson Inquiry
There was also some uncertainty over the legal position on phone hacking and whether criminal prosecutions could be brought, the court heard.
But Casburn did not feel able to speak out against the plans for the phone-hacking investigation, which had been re-opened by then assistant commissioner John Yates, she told the court.
"John Yates was a very powerful and influential officer and all the people in the meeting more senior than me were powerful and influential officers," she said. "I didn't believe I could make any difference to the decision-making around using counter-terrorist assets for the phone-hacking inquiry."
Casburn admits making the phone call to the NOTW, but denies misconduct, asking for money and offering information that was not already in the public domain.
Asked whether she offered to sell information during her conversation with the News of the World, Casburn said: "No. I find the whole sentence ludicrous."
Asked about going to the press, she said: "I believe that in some circumstances that may be the only option that's open to individuals.
"It's not uncommon for a lot of people to use the press, for politicians to get a story out, to have something released or a wrongdoing to be exposed. I think in some circumstances it's right to go to the press because they do expose wrongdoing and they do expose poor decisions."
She said the counter-terrorism command was "very male-dominated", and likened it to the TV series Life On Mars in the 21st century.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more