Press release 18th Jul 2011

Corruption crisis requires coordinated response

Dominic Kavakeb 
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On the eve of the Home Affairs Committee hearing into the phone hacking scandal, Transparency International UK warns that a lack of coordination will weaken momentum for deep, lasting reform. It draws four key lessons:

 18 July 2011

  • The Government is ill-equipped to respond to a corruption crisis that spans several sectors. There is no individual or institution with the remit to coordinate a robust response to corruption in the UK – although ironically the government has an ‘overseas anti-corruption champion’.
  • There is an undercurrent of corruption in several key UK institutions. This scandal alone has shone the spotlight on the media, the police, politicians, regulatory scrutiny and the ethical integrity of a major UK company.  Yet several anti-corruption oversight structures are being hastily dismantled or severely cut back under government plans.  This should be put on hold until the consequences have been properly examined.
  • Practices that have been taken for granted for many years should now come under review, such as the willingness of politicians to accept corporate and media hospitality and ‘revolving door’ employment between major media companies, political offices and the police.
  • Overall, the UK is complacent about corruption. This has allowed a culture of impunity to develop, in which corruption is not seriously analysed or investigated and individuals have behaved unethically in the belief that they would not or should not be held to account.  It is notable that with each high profile resignation over the past week, the individuals in question have denied any ethical shortcomings.

Chandu Krishnan Executive Director of Transparency International UK, said “This case has shone an awkward spotlight on undercurrents of corruption in key UK institutions.  It is clear that there is systemic complacency about corruption in the UK, even if the problem is not endemic.  The Government needs the courage to admit that many checks and balances have failed.  Instead of a proliferation of inquiries we need urgent action to put in place policies that will prevent such a crisis from happening again and restore public trust in our key institutions."

Last month we published a report which examined the level of corruption across 23 UK sectors and institutions including all those affected by the phone hacking scandal. Our report highlighted a level of complacency – and some cases, denial – over the level of UK corruption. You can view the report by clicking here