News 10th Dec 2015

20 Years of Tackling Corruption


Robert Barrington

Executive Director

Robert joined Transparency International UK in 2008 and was appointed as Executive Director in 2013. His areas of expertise include the Bribery Act integrity in the private sector and corruption within the UK. Recent projects and publications include ‘Anti-Bribery Due Diligence for Transactions’, ‘Adequate Procedures & Guidance to the UK Bribery Act’ and ‘Corruption in the UK’.

Dominic Kavakeb 
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Related Publication

Over the past twenty years, two clear trends have emerged in corruption research.

First, it often seems that by standard analyses of corruption, advanced economies get off lightly. While there may be less bribe-paying of public officials in the UK, there is a lingering feeling that beneath the surface there is an underlying corruption of cronyism and impunity that somehow feels uniquely British: invisible, deniable, insidious, difficult to legislate against, sometimes appearing to do little harm except inexorably tilting the system in favour of its beneficiaries, sometimes doing great harm.

Second, most analyses of grand corruption cite the complicity of global financial centres, including London and the UK’s Overseas Territories, as a big part of the problem. In the past month alone, we have had confessions from within two UK-based companies about bribe-paying in Africa, displaying active complicity in corruption that we in the UK are so quick to condemn overseas.  Our research team has published some fascinating and disturbing pieces on the extent of corrupt investment into UK property, the use of investment visas by corrupt individuals, and the weaknesses in the UK’s anti-money laundering protections.

The UK is by no means free of corruption, or free of complicity in other people’s misery. The good news is that the Prime Minister has pledged to do something about this, and the UK Government has set out its stall to be one of the most open governments in the world.

That is why we have launched our #TransparencyMatters campaign. But for the Government to have the credibility and authority to underpin its promise, it must take action on corruption risk in UK politics (the subject of serial denials by those in positions of power), the UK’s role as a safe haven for corrupt assets and individuals, and the Overseas Territories.

The other piece of good news is that wherever we look, we find allies – in companies, in the public sector, in politics, among ordinary people.  More than ever before, people recognise the harm done by corruption, and are willing to help us.


To watch the speech Margaret Hodge MP delivered at TI-UK’s Annual Lecture please click here.