In the Media

Magistrates court clerk is first to be convicted under Bribery Act

PUBLISHED October 14, 2011

Munir Yakub Patel admits keeping details of a traffic summons off a court database in return for ?500 A magistrates court clerk who was paid not to record a driving offence has become the first person to be convicted under anti-bribery legislation introduced this summer. Munir Yakub Patel, 22, agreed to exploit his position as an administrative clerk at Redbridge magistrates court in east London by keeping details of a traffic summons off a court database in exchange for ?500. Patel, of Dagenham, Essex, admitted the charge at Southwark crown court. He admitted one count of bribery and one count of misconduct in a public office after being caught on film by a national newspaper in August. The misconduct charge stated that between 23 February 2009 and August this year Patel gave people advice about how to avoid being summoned to court for similar offences. He denied seven counts of possession of an article for use in fraud. He was found with photocopied blank receipts for a garage but the charges were left to lie on file. The Sun newspaper filmed him arranging the bribe with Jayraj Singh, who had been given a speeding penalty. In court, Patel, wearing a grey suit, spoke only to confirm his name and age and plead guilty to the charges. His barrister, Janice Johnson, said he was a man of previous good character. Outside court, Gaon Hart, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Public corruption is an extremely serious offence that undermines public faith in the integrity of those who work in the criminal justice system. "Public servants are required to act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality but Patel's actions could not have been further from each of these. "His conduct has brought into disrepute the criminal justice system as he sought to undermine the very laws which he was employed to uphold." He added: "This prosecution is the first of its kind under the Bribery Act 2010, which has provided a significant weapon in the armoury of prosecutors that enables us to focus on the bribery element rather than general misconduct behaviour. "We will continue to target those who act corruptly purely for personal gain and tailor the charge to reflect their wrongdoing." Prosecutions under the act have to be authorised by either the director of public prosecutions or the director of the Serious Fraud Office. At the time of the Bribery Act's drafting, it was thought that its main purpose was to deter corruption among British companies operating abroad and prevent them offering inducements to obtain lucrative contracts. The maximum sentence under the act is 10 years in prison. Patel was bailed until 11 November when he will be sentenced. Judge John Price warned him that he may face immediate custody. The Bribery Act did not outlaw offering hospitality to customers but it confirmed that facilitation payments are illegal. It is a full defence for companies to show that they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. Bribery Act UK criminal justice Crime London Owen Bowcott © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds