A police employee has been charged with five criminal counts in an investigation emerging from Operation Venetic – the UK’s law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted comms platform EncroChat.

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 unauthorised information. She has been charged with four counts of unauthorised 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 authorised 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.

Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigations, said: “Working with our partners, we acted swiftly to investigate and conduct these arrests.

“UK law enforcement takes corruption allegations extremely seriously to catch anyone who betrays the trust placed in them.”

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green, head of the North West ROCU, said: “We have worked closely throughout this investigation with the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the National Crime Agency, Cheshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

“As a result of the investigation, carried out by the NCA under the direction and control of the IOPC, a member of police staff and two members of the public have been charged and we await the outcome of the legal process.”

Cheshire Constabulary Deputy Chief Constable Julie Cooke said: “Throughout this investigation we have worked closely with the National Crime Agency, NWROCU and the IOPC and acknowledge the decision that has been reached by the Crown Prosecution Service.”

Upon completion of the investigation – the IOPC decided, in October 2020, to refer a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, which authorised the charges.

21 May 2021