Court clerk from Dagenham jailed for bribery and misconduct in public office

A court clerk from Dagenham made legal history today when he became the first person to be jailed under new bribery legislation.

Munir Patel, 22, of Green Lane, was handed a three-year prison term for bribery and ordered to serve six years concurrently for misconduct in a public office.

As a clerk, Patel had used his privileged access at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court, Barkingside, to help more than 50 offenders avoid prosecution in exchange for sums of up to �500, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Patel remained impassive as Judge Alistair McCreath told him: “It hardly needs saying that these were very serious offences.

“They involved a very substantial breach of trust. Your position as a court clerk had at its heart a duty 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 public would expect, and rightly expect, the courts to take strong action to protect and defend the integrity of the justice system.”

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Earlier, the court was told Patel came to the attention of authorities following a national newspaper sting. The Sun was contacted by motorist Jayraj Singh after Patel offered to help him avoid a speeding ticket, claiming he could take advantage of a legal loophole for �500.

Patel admitted bribery and misconduct in a public office dating from February 2009 to August this year in which he advised people how to avoid being summoned over such matters.

Police believe he helped at least 53 people evade prosecution for driving offences by tampering with the system so their cases would effectively be dropped.

He also advised on how to avoid being summoned to court while working in an administrative capacity at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court in east London, on a salary of �17,978.

For this he was paid a total of at least �20,000.

But the court heard that �53,814 in cash was deposited in his bank account while another �42,383 was transferred into the same account, both without explanation.

The defendant, who married just two months ago, mouthed “Don’t worry” to friends and family who packed into the public gallery as he was led from the dock.