When points don’t mean prizes

The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that it is bringing charges against Munir Patel under the sparkly new Bribery Act 2010.  (The Serious Fraud Office will handle the big, juicy cases involving foreign bribery but are happy to leave the less glamorous domestic ones to the CPS.)  And this is hardly glamorous: according to a video obtained by The Sun, Patel, while working as a clerk at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court, accepted a £500 bribe not to put details of a traffic summons on the court database.  He then ate Freddy Starr’s hamster.  Only kidding.

Big corporates and people working at the more chi-chi end of the financial sector, however, should not take any comfort from this.  It was always to be expected that the Bribery Act – like the Proceeds of Crime Act before it – would start slowly.  The CPS and eventually the SFO will use little cases like this as chew toys on which to sharpen their teeth: they would rather have Mr Patel walk free because they haven’t gathered or presented their evidence properly and then learn from those mistakes, than embarrass themselves with a high-profile first attempt.  He’s due in court on 14 October – let’s see how many tip-top lawyers the CPS wheels out for an alleged £500 bribe.

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