According to Wikipedia, some countries have a more encompassing standard of a corrupt act compared to the US (which following McDonnell v US has tightened the definition of a corrupt act considerably), namely the notion of influence peddling

Influence peddling is the illegal practice of using one's influence in government or connections with persons in authority to obtain favours or preferential treatment for another, usually in return for payment. [...]

This crime is punished in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Great Britain and Romania.

The page doesn't illustrate it with any UK cases though. So, are there any examples in the UK of convictions for influence peddling, in particular some that would not fall under the [tightened] US standard of a corrupt act, which now excludes

merely setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event?

1 Answer 1


According to this publication by Transparency International, the UK does not criminalise influence peddling as such. Rather, "the following legislation and regulation may provide some protection against aspects of the relevant corrupt behaviour:

  1. The Bribery Act 2010 would apply if the beneficiary was carrying out illegitimate activities to influence the public official.
  2. Political donations are regulated by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000."

Most examples would fall under the Bribery Act, which covers:

All four offences: offering, promising or giving a bribe to another person; requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe from another person; bribing a foreign public official; and a corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery. The Act could potentially be used to sanction political bribery if giving or receiving a financial or other advantage in connection with the "improper performance" of a position of trust can be argued.

They further note that:

The 2013 Implementation Review Group UNCAC report assessed that regarding trading in influence, the general offences in the Bribery Act 2010 are broad enough to cover most circumstances related with the behaviour in question. The Bribery Act 2010 may be used to prosecute political bribery if the giving or receiving of a private benefit was connected with the improper performance of a “relevant function or activity”. It can also apply if the offer of a bribe is not taken; if the bribe giver knows that acceptance of the bribe would constitute improper performance. It is punishable with a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

While there have been some convictions under the Bribery Act, both of public officials and of private sector workers, as far as I know, there have not been any high profile influence peddling cases so far. Neither of the 2009 and 2010 "cash for influence" scandals resulted in criminal charges (though both resulted in suspensions from parliament), but both predate the Act. A 2015 "cash for access" scandal involving Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw resulted in an investigation by the parliamentary standards watchdog (which cleared both of them) but not a criminal investigation. However, a TI opinion piece argued that it showed a gap in UK law regarding influence peddling.

  • 1
    No convictions from cash for questions 1994 or cash for honours 2006 (although the latter involved a criminal investigation), either.
    – Lag
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 10:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .