The Sun itself may have fallen foul of the Bribery Act by helping to secure the first convicton under the new legislation.
Sun managing editor Richard Caseby revealed this morning that The Sun made a payment which technically breached the new legislation in order to secure the evidence that a clerk at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court accepted a £500 bribe to avoid entering a motoring conviction on to the database. Last month this Sun investigation directly led to the prosecution of Munir Yakub Patel, 22, of Green Lane, Dagenham.
Speaking at the Society of Editors Conference in Surrey this morning, Caseby also revealed that a Sun reporter has already found themselves under arrest for breaching the new anti-bribery legislation.
Speaking about the way The Sun obtained the incriminating evidence in the Redbridge bribe story he told the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer: “I was technically guilty of an offence under the Bribery Act. I exposed the whole company to unlimited fines because of the way the Bribery Act is defined.
“If a policeman came to my door and arrested me because of that technical offence I would probably have to sell my house. I would be left in a very high and dry place at your discretion.
“One of my reporters has already been arrested for an unauthorised payment, something he denies.”
Caseby made the point that because there is no public interest defence in the Bribery Act – journalists who breach it by paying for stories find themselves at the mercy of prosecutors who have to decide whether or not a prosecution is in the public interest.
Starmer said: “The appraoch we take is to apply Article 10 of the European Convention which has built in safeguards for journalists to do their job.”
Caseby responded by saying that at the moment the application of the Bribery Act is “pretty chaotic”.