A court clerk from London has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for misconduct in public office and 3 years in prison for an offence of bribery. The sentences will run concurrently.
The latter represents the first sentence handed down under the new Act and sends a clear message that this new legislation will not solely be used against corporate entities.
Munir Yakub Patel was filmed by the Sun accepting a bribe of £500 to ‘get rid’ of details of a traffic summons, whilst working in an administrative capacity at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court in Ilford. Prior to this, he accepted payments from around 50 people to prevent them being prosecuted, Southward Crown Court heard.
In passing sentence His Honour Judge McCreath said: ‘Your position as a court clerk had at its heart a duty to uphold and protect the integrity of the criminal justice process. What you did was to undermine it in a fundamental way.
‘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.’
The judge acknowledged Mr Patel’s timely guilty pleas, age and previous good character, but stressed the impact of his actions were more wide-reaching.
Mr Patel’s solicitor commented that she would be discussing with him whether to appeal the sentence. He will also face Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings.
This sentence sends a strong message about how the courts intend to deal with people prosecuted under the Bribery Act. This legislation will clearly not be reserved for large corporate entities. Any company which has still not acted to ensure compliance with the Act needs to do so as a matter of urgency. We have written previously about the unlimited fines and potential custodial sentences which company directors would face – these are now more of a reality.
If you face charges under or would like advice in relation to the Bribery Act, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or a member of our fraud and business crime solicitors. In addition, if you need advice about POCA / Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings, our specialist solicitors will also be able to assist you.