Public Affairs: Lobbyists crank up Bribery Act pressure

The Government is facing renewed pressure from lobbyists over the Bribery Act following a delay in its implementation.

Last week Justice Secretary Kenneth Clark announced the Bribery Act would not come into force until April 2011 and that there would be a 'short consultation exercise' on the content of official guidance, raising fears that there would be attempts to water it down.

The Bribery Act aims to provide a more effective legal framework to combat bribery in the public or private sectors.

One lobbyist commented: 'Of course this is an opportunity for change. But what sort of change can we get? We will push as hard as we can for our clients' interests and we will see what happens.'

A Westminster source warned: 'The danger is that firms and their lobbyists will use the delay to get changes to the bill. They will probably aim to change the language - to allow small payments to be permitted, for example.'

He continued: 'There has been pressure from certain companies and their agents throughout the bill's progress to get an Act that is acceptable to their normal practices.'

Chandrashekhar Krishnan, executive director of Transparency International UK, a pressure group campaigning against worldwide corruption, echoed fears that lobbyists could weaken the Act.

Krishnan said: 'The danger is that under the guise of consultation, attempts may be made by those who want to pursue "business as usual" to water down the Bribery Act.'

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