A senior detective committed a "gross breach" of public trust by trying to sell information to the News of the World about a phone hacking investigation, a court was told.

Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, of Hatfield Peverel, is accused of offering the now-defunct tabloid information about Operation Varec, the investigation into whether Scotland Yard's inquiry into phone hacking should be reopened.

She denies misconduct in public office.

At that time she was working in counter terrorism, managing the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.

Southwark Crown Court was told today that one of her team had been asked to carry out financial investigations as part of the phone hacking probe.

It is alleged that she rang the tabloid’s newsdesk at 7.51am on September 11, 2010 to offer information in exchange for payment.

The court was told that Casburn, 53, said six people were under investigation and named two - the paper’s former editor Andy Coulson and reporter Sean Hoare.

Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, said: "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 any of the information and no payment changed hands, the court heard.

Casburn admits making the phone call but denies asking for money, and said she had reasonable excuse.

She said she was concerned that resources meant for combatting terrorism were being allocated to the phone hacking investigation, and that much of the information was already public knowledge.

News editor Tim 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."

Casburn also mentioned that "counter-terrorism assets" were being used in the probe, which was "highly unusual".

The trial continues.