Court clerk Munir Patel has been given a three year prison term for bribery, and also been ordered to serve six years concurrently for misconduct in a public office. Mr Patel had admitted to accepting a bribe of £500 in exchange for omitting to record a traffic offence on a court database. He was prosecuted under Section 2 of the Bribery Act for requesting and receiving a bribe intending to improperly perform his funcions, as well as misconduct in public office. Police believed that for well over a year, Mr Patel had helped at least 53 people evade the consequences of their traffic offences, namely fines, penalty points and disqualification, and that he obtained over £20,000 as a result. The judge said that there were no sentencing guidelines with which to work, since the case was the first of its kind under the new legislation.
Although an individual has been the first to be sentenced under the Act, Businesses are also caught by the Bribery Act and the Serious Fraud Office is expected to prosecute a business or its directors under the Act before too long.
The Bribery Act came into effect on 1 July this year, replacing the UK’s bribery laws (consisting of a common law offence of bribery as well as various statutory offences) with four offences:
- bribing another person;
- being bribed;
- bribing a foreign public official; and
- failure by a commercial organisation to prevent a bribery.
Offences 1-3 can be committed by an individual or a commercial organisation (e.g. company, partnership etc.). Offence 4 can only be committed by a commercial organisation. Companies who are prosecuted under the Act can face unlimited fines.
More information about the Bribery Act 2010 can be found in our briefing note in our publications section.