THE BRIBERY ACT. MUNIR PATEL AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIS DAY IN COURT.


THE BRIBERY ACT. MUNIR PATEL AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIS DAY IN COURT.

First of all, contrary to what some “experts” have been blaring today, he was NOT sentenced to six years for Bribery. (which may come as some comfort to a few suits out there!)

On Count 1, an offence under the Bribery Act, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. He had pleaded guilty, and was told that had he fought the case, the sentence would have been between four and five years. The maximum is ten years.

He also pleaded guilty to Count 2 a common law offence of Misconduct in a Public Office. He was sentenced to six years to be served concurrently with Count 1. The maximum is life imprisonment.

As the Judge said

“… this indictment represents misconduct which lasted for well over a year and involved at least 53 cases in which you manipulated the process in order to save offenders from the consequences of their offending.”

The full transcript of sentencing remarks is here:

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/munir-patel-sentencing-remarks.pdf

BUT…. and it’s a very big but, the sentence reflecting conduct lasting well over a year, can only have applied to Count 2, because Count 1 could only relate to bribes accepted after July 1st. In other words a comparatively small proportion of the time involved.

They ARE two separate offences. Accepting, or even asking for a bribe, is an offence in itself, even if he then did nothing.

What he did was to ask for and accept bribes, AND THEN go on to falsify the DVLA records by not entering details of motoring convictions which was his job. It could even be argued that he was lucky to have escaped a consecutive sentence.

What else? Well it is said that he was asking £500 a time to do this. 53 cases at £500 a time would mean about £26,000 in his back pocket. When police examined his bank accounts, (yes he paid the money into his bank….) they found credits of £96,000 unaccounted for. He earned about £25k per year.

So what does this all tell us?

On his own admission, to the court and on the secret video filmed by that bastion of rectitude, The Sun, he had been well at it for over a year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15310150

The judge had this to say about the effect of his actions on the Judicial system:

By doing what you did, you created a danger not only to the integrity of the process but also 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.”

This was far from a simple breach of trust, and cannot be judged in simple monetary terms against such cases.

SO…. if three years on a plea for a Bribery Act offence under Section 2 by a public servant is a guideline, then how much further up the scale will the suits have to crane their necks?

Only time will tell, but I leave you with two further thoughts.

IN the joint prosecution guidelines produced earlier this year by the SFO and the CPS (remember them?) they stated:

The Act takes a robust approach to tackling commercial bribery, which is one of its principal objectives. The offences are not, however, limited to commercial bribery. There may be many examples outside the commercial sphere where individuals attempt to influence the application of rules, regulations and normal procedures. Examples would include attempts to influence decisions by local authorities, regulatory bodies or elected representatives on matters such as planning consent, school admission procedures or driving test

So it isn’t just the suits who need to keep looking over their shoulders. The CPS are alive to lower level bribery too.

And finally, when can we expect to see 53 arrests and prosecutions for those who bribed Munir Patel?

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5 thoughts on “THE BRIBERY ACT. MUNIR PATEL AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIS DAY IN COURT.

  1. Nice post James. It is good to see that the full details of the case have now seen the light of day. Let’s hope this puts an end to the ill-informed comment from people that these were trivial offences and not worthy of the court’s time. Those of us who had seen The Sun’s video knew there was a case to answer and let’s hope those who tried to minimize these offences take the time to read your blog, watch the film and read the judge’s comments.

  2. Interesting article and blog – I am also a self-professed Bribery Act geek!

    re. “BUT…. and it’s a very big but, the sentence reflecting conduct lasting well over a year, can only have applied to Count 2, because Count 1 could only relate to bribes accepted after July 1st. In other words a comparatively small proportion of the time involved.”

    Could an argument be made that the three year sentence for the bribery offence, given that it would have only been applicable for only 2 months of the course of conduct that led to Patel’s prosecution, is actually quite severe?

    • I am still trying to get a hold of a copy of the Indictment. I suspect it must have been a specimen count relating to a single bribe, but I don’t know for sure.
      If for no other reason than it is the first sentence under the act, it is very likely to be appealed, although I have no inside knowledge. The Court of Appeal my well relish the opportunity to say something in relation to tariff.
      Having said that, for a bribe relating to such a serious breach of trust, they might well keep it exactly as it is.
      A more straightforward commercial bribe of £500 would of course be different.
      Many than ks for your comment, and watch this space!

  3. I will watch this space! I suspect the Court of Appeal would follow the lead of the Crown Court in this case, as (in the words of Marks and Spencer) this isn’t just bribery this is “undermining-faith-in-the-justice-process” bribery!

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