Misconduct in public office is an offence at common law and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is an offence confined to those who are public office holders and is committed when the office holder acts (or fails to act) in a way that constitutes a breach of the duties of that office. For example a police officer who discloses information to a journalist about an on-going investigation, without lawful authority. A journalist may be charged with the offence of conspiracy (Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977) to commit misconduct in public office, for example where payment has been made to secure the information. Legal advice from the legal & compliance department should always be sought if a programme involves a public office holder and any payment or offer of payments is contemplated. Advice must be sought before any payment is made or promised. See 'Issues Requiring Reference-up'.