A former administrative clerk at Redbridge Magistrates Court has been prosecuted and convicted under section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 for accepting a bribe to improperly perform his functions.
Munir Yakub Patel pleaded guilty at Southwark County Court on Friday 14 October 2011 to bribery and misconduct in public office. Mr Patel admitted that he had accepted £500 in exchange for omitting to record a traffic offence on the court database on 1 August 2011.
Gaon Hart, Senior Crown Advocate for the CPS Special Crown and Counter Terrorism Unit stated that this prosecution 'has provided a significant weapon in the armoury of prosecutors that enables (them) to focus on the bribery element rather than the general misconduct behaviour.' He went on to say that the CPS will continue targeting those who act corruptly for personal gain and made clear that the charge will be tailored to reflect the wrong-doing.
Under section 11(1) of the Bribery Act 2010, a person found guilty of an offence under section 2 is liable to face a maximum of ten years imprisonment, a fine or both. Judge John Price stated that although Mr Patel will be given credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity, this may be a case where a custodial sentence is unavoidable.
Sentencing will occur on 11 November 2011.
The Bribery Act came into force on 1 July 2011 with its purpose being to modernise and simplify the law relating to bribery and to allow the courts to deal with the issue more effectively. It created four offences: being bribed, bribing another, bribing a foreign official and, for business entities, failing to prevent bribery. The Bribery Act means that for the first time in the UK, bribery is now a corporate crime.
What has surprised the industry about this case is that is has targeted a low value notional bribe when the Serious Fraud Office has previously stated that the legislation will be used to target international companies and foreign businesses suspected or bribery. Comments by Gaon Hart of the CPS suggest that there was a strong public interest reason for prosecuting in this case stating that those who abuse their public office undermine the public's trust in the integrity of those working within the criminal justice system. He commented that Mr Patel had undermined the very laws he was employed to uphold.