Corrupt police intel analyst jailed for tipping off criminal about EncroChat hack

Siva Ramakrishnan
A corrupt police intelligence analyst was jailed on Friday for tipping off a criminal friend about law enforcement’s access to the encrypted communications platform EncroChat.

A corrupt police intelligence analyst was jailed on Friday for tipping off a criminal friend about law enforcement’s access to the encrypted communications platform EncroChat.

Natalie Mottram, 25, was arrested on June 12, 2020. She subsequently admitted misconduct in public office, perverting the course of justice and unauthorized access to computer material, and was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison at Liverpool Crown Court.

Mottram had been working for a regional organized crime unit, on secondment from Cheshire constabulary, and was conducting threat assessments of criminal groups when she was briefed on the U.K. National Crime Agency’s (NCA) access to EncroChat conversations.

EncroChat was a bespoke encrypted communications platform widely used by serious organized crime groups in Europe. Although its creators claimed it was developed for celebrities who needed additional privacy, law enforcement agencies argued that the vast majority of EncroChat’s customers were actually criminals.

This platform was compromised in 2020 by cyber specialists working for French and Dutch police, and the intelligence that law enforcement agencies gleaned from the operation was subsequently used to arrest thousands of suspects across the continent.

Among the suspects purportedly being investigated based on those messages was Jonathan Kay, 39, whose partner was close friends with Mottram — to the point the analyst even had her own key to their house. According to the NCA, Mottram told Kay about the covert operation and that police had intelligence on him.

After discovering a leak and beginning to suspect Mottram, investigators caught the intelligence analyst after asking her to look over a fabricated intelligence log referring to Kay. After work that day, Mottram briefed both Kay and his partner about the intelligence log, while under surveillance from NCA officers.

Later that day, June 12, 2020, the three were arrested and £200,000 ($246,000) in cash was recovered from Kay’s house.

The NCA stated that in addition to the crimes Mottram admitted, “the evidence against her revealed she bought cannabis from a dealer whose phone number was saved in her mobile phone; had told Bennett about a murder file she had seen on her boss’s desk. And she also took selfies with her work computer visible and showing a document classified as ‘Official Sensitive’ meaning it required certain handling conditions.”

John McKeon, head of the NCA’s anti-corruption unit, said: “There is no place for corrupt officers in UK law enforcement and it was vital that this investigation uncovered her betrayal.”

Superintendent Simon Parsonage, Head of Professional Standards at Cheshire Constabulary, said: “Mottram abused her position by accessing highly sensitive data which she then shared with people outside the organization.

“As this case demonstrates, nobody is above the law, and I want to reassure the public that we are committed to doing all we can to root out any officers or staff who fail to meet the high standards that the people of Cheshire expect and deserve.”

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Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.


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