London solicitor jailed for bribes

A London solicitor who bribed an Inland Revenue official to help him track down his clients' debtors has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

At the Old Bailey on 10 July, John Cornillie admitted conspiracy to bribe a public officer and cheating the Inland Revenue of £11,265 by giving untaxed money to staff at his firm, Cornillie & Co, as bonuses and fake expenses.

Jailing Cornillie, Judge Graham Boal QC said: “I must mark the public distaste for offences such as these committed by a solicitor.”

He added: “Through your own corruption and dishonesty you have ruined your hitherto successful business – nothing I can do today will lessen the humiliation you have heaped upon yourself.”

Earlier the court had heard how Cornillie had met Inland Revenue officer Timothy Stevens in 1994 at his cycling club and paid him for the confidential addresses and financial details of people who owed his clients money.

He paid Stevens a total of £1,350 over a three-year period in a stream of £50 and £100 payments.

Stevens was jailed for 21 months after admitting charges of misconduct in a public office, incitement to bribe a public office and two counts of claiming tax allowances for a daughter he did not have.

A third defendant, Victor Kish, who was a clerk at Cornillie's firm, was ordered to do 100 hours community service.

Kish, who had not benefited personally from any of crimes, admitted to a charge of aiding and abetting Stevens.