17 October 2011 #Employment
Munir Patel, a clerk in the Redbridge Magistrates Court, has become the first person to be prosecuted and convicted under the Bribery Act 2010 after admitting to bribery and misconduct in a public office.
Patel pleaded guilty to section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 for requesting and receiving a bribe intending to improperly perform his function. He accepted a £500 for offering to `get rid` of a speeding charge by keeping details of the speeding ticket off a court database.
He also pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice for other similar offences.
Mr Patel was caught on film by The Sun newspaper in August arranging the bribe with Jayraj Singh, who had been given a speeding penalty.
Gaon Hart, Senior Crown Advocate for the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said, "Public corruption is an extremely serious offence that undermines public faith in the integrity of those who work in the criminal justice system. The prosecution case is that Patel abused his position as a court administrative officer...to solicit a bribe from a member of the public”.
This case highlights that prosecutions under the Bribery Act includes the small scale as well the large scale acts of bribery and corruption involving millions of pounds among companies.
The new Bribery Act came into force on 1 July 2011 making it illegal to receive or to offer a bribe. There is also a corporate offence, where orgainsations fail to prevent bribery by persons working on its behalf.
It may even have been possible that Patel’s employer, the Ministry of Justice, could have been charged under this corporate offence. Although there is a full defence for orgainsations if they can show that they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
The maximum sentence under the act is 10 years in prison. Mr Patel was bailed until 11 November when he will be sentenced.
This is acts as a timely reminder to consider your Bribery Act compliance risk if you have not already done so. The team at Clarkslegal has recorded a series of Podcasts providing information on the Act, including how businesses can seek to ensure that they have adequate procedures in place, which are available here. Other useful documents include a factsheet and anti bribery policy.