A police employee has been charged with five criminal counts in an investigation emerging from Operation Venetic – the U.K.’s law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted comms platform EncroChat.
In early 2020, EncroChat was one of the largest providers of encrypted digital communication with a very high share of users presumably engaged in criminal activity. User hotspots were particularly present in source and destination countries for cocaine and cannabis trade, as well as in money laundering centers.
Natalie Mottram, aged 22, was employed by Cheshire Police but was on secondment and working as an intelligence analyst at the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) when she was arrested by National Crime Agency officers, as part of an Independent Office for Police Conduct directed investigation, on 12 June 2020.
Mottram, of Vermont Close, Great Sankey, Warrington, allegedly disclosed unauthorized information. She has been charged with four counts of unauthorized access to computer material and one count of perverting the course of justice. She has been suspended from work.
Mottram will appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on 8 June with couple Jonathan Kay and Leah Bennett, both 36, and both of Newark Drive, Great Sankey, Warrington.
Kay has been charged with perverting the course of justice and two counts of failing to comply with a notice under the Section 49 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Bennett has been charged with perverting the course of justice.
The perverting the course of justice charge alleges the trio disclosed information that law enforcement could access encrypted EncroChat data.
A charge has been authorized against another suspect but has not been served yet.
Operation Venetic, led by the NCA, uncovered alleged ‘insider threat’ offending from a range of nominals working in positions of responsibility.