Eoin O’Shea, head of anti-corruption group, LG

Opinion: First conviction proves Bribery Act has sharp teeth

  • Print
  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • Eoin as chief cheerleader and thrower of bog rolls for the Bribery Act, I have to say I agree with your answer to the exam question.
    There was much self-righteous bleating from the managing editor of the Sun about this, demanding a "public interest defence" and/or exemption for the press.
    Yet again it seems that News International's lawyers are missing the point.
    In the example you pose, the journalist has no intention of inducing the official to effect an improper performance. All he wants to do is secure video evidence of the acceptance of the cash, which in this case he did.
    He then has his story, which he publishes before going to the police.
    As far as I know there was no question of either a Sun journalist, or stooge if there was one, not having points put on their licence.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think the answer is actually probably "yes, the CPS COULD prosecute the journalist", as it is likely that the journalist would know or believe that the acceptance of the bribe by the public official in most situations would, in itself, amount to improper performance, irrespective of the motive behind the bribe.
    However, in reality, it is unlikely to be in the public interest to prosecute the journalist in this scenario, so the CPS probably would not prosecute.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Thanks for these stimulating comments. I agree that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute a journalist in these circumstances and so it is very unlikely to ever happen.
    The question of whether it is technically possible under the terms of the Act is a bit trickier. I doubt there would be sufficient evidence to support an inference under Case 1 (intention to induce or reward improper performance).
    I agree that "Case 2" of section 1 of the Act might well come into play - i.e. whether the journalist knew or believed that acceptance of the advantage would itself constitute the improper performance of a relevant function. Is a clerk's mere acceptance of money with no indication of a connection to other improper conduct, such as fixing DVLA records, automatically improper, and, if so, can it be inferred that the journalist would know or believe that to be the case? I don't think this is a slam dunk, unlike, for example, the offer of cash to a judge whom you know to be sitting on your case, or a policeman who is about to give you a ticket. There is certainly a strong argument to be made for such knowledge or belief, but, in a case such as this I do not see prosecutors risking getting it wrong when there will be considerable sympathy with the defendant and his overall motives.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (3)