Bribery Act offender sentenced to six years in prison

Out-Law News | 18 Nov 2011 | 4:42 pm | 1 min. read

The first person to be convicted of an offence under the UK's Bribery Act has been sentenced to six years in jail.

Munir Patel, a former magistrates' court administrative officer, was sentenced to a three year prison term for bribery offences and six years for misconduct in public office. The sentences are to run concurrently, according to the Press Association.

 Last month Patel admitted accepting a £500 bribe to "get rid of a speeding charge" and pled guilty to an offence under section two of the Bribery Act last month. However police told Southwark Crown Court that Patel took bribes from 53 individuals to help them escape prosecution for similar offences and said he may have earned more than £20,000 from doing so, according to a report

Under section two of the Act it is an offence if a person requests, agrees to receive, or accepts an advantage, financial or otherwise, with the intention that they or someone else perform a "relevant function or activity" improperly. Under the Act, the maximum penalty for individuals found guilty of bribery is 10 years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine. The Act came into force on 1 July. 

Judge Alistair McCreath, who passed the sentence on Friday, said Patel's offences were "very serious" and that he had breached public trust. 

"It hardly needs saying that these were very serious offences," the judge said, according to the Press Association's report.

"They involved a very substantial breach of trust. Your position as a court clerk had at its heart a duty to public confidence in it. A justice system in which officials are prepared to take bribes in order to allow offenders to escape the proper consequences of their offending is inherently corrupt and is one which deserves no public respect and which will attract none.The public would expect, and rightly expect, the courts to take strong action to protect and defend the integrity of the justice system," he said. 

Corruption law expert Barry Vitou of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said he was not surprised by the terms of the sentence handed down to Patel. 

"With all of the media attention the Bribery Act and corruption has received of the past months it is not a surprise that the judge would throw the book at Mr Patel," Vitou said. 

"This is a clear message of the seriousness with which courts consider bribery. Corporates and individuals ignore it at their peril," he said.

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