Patricia Scotland calls for Commonwealth-wide anti-corruption unit

By on 18/04/2016
Baroness Patricia Scotland became Commonwealth secretary-general earlier this month

The new head of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, has today called for the creation of a new unit working across the 53 nation group to fight corruption.

Scotland, who became Commonwealth secretary-general earlier this month, said in a speech today that “collaboration and cooperation between different nation states will be critical if we are to successfully meet the challenge bribery and corruption creates for us all.”

As a mechanism to facilitate that collaboration, she proposes the creation of a Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, through which member states would be able to “craft the templates for legislation and best practice implementation to strengthen public safety and provide an excellent framework for legal support services throughout the Commonwealth.”

These templates, Scotland, who was UK attorney-general between 2007 and 2010, said, “will strengthen public safety and services throughout the Commonwealth.”

Addressing senior judges and Commonwealth high commissioners, at Inner Temple in London today, Scotland said member states should “develop a kitemark or yardstick against corruption” which should be used to identify which bodies, institutions, and entities are adhering to best practice and eventually create international  standards for compliance of good procurement practice.

She added that the standards “can be used by anyone” and “will help strengthen oversight of finances for businesses, institutions, the public sector, local government and the private sector.”

Creating best practice toolkits, she said, “empowers our member governments to be on the front foot against corruption and fraud in their jurisdictions.”

Scotland  is the sixth secretary-general of the Commonwealth and the first ever woman to be appointed into the role.

She was the first black woman to be a QC [a senior barrister appointed on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor] and the only woman to be attorney-general since the post was created in 1315.

Before being appointed attorney-general, she held various ministerial roles under the Labour government including  minister of state for criminal justice and offender management from 2003 to 2007.

Scotland, who was born in a small village on the Caribbean island of Dominica, to a Dominican mother and Antiguan father and brought up in north-east London, describes herself as a “classic child of the Commonwealth.”

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See also:

In pictures: Patricia Scotland is welcomed as new Commonwealth secretary-general

India’s banking scheme draws in 200m new customers

Patricia Scotland sets out priorities in new role as Commonwealth chief

How to get things done in government: the art of delivery

Looking after number one: prioritisation in government

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

One Comment

  1. Jag Patel

    19/04/2016 at

    No doubt that there is an urgent need for a strong institutional framework which will examine the finances of the public sector, local government and the private sector – to address the scourge of bribery and corruption which is all too prevalent in public procurement today.

    Here is an example of how existing legislation has failed to curb the incidence of bribery and corruption between those in the pay of the State and the Defence Industry.

    At a time when the headcount at MoD’s arms-length defence equipment acquisition organisation at Abbey Wood Bristol is being forcibly slashed as part of a deal with the Treasury, there exists an extremely high risk that departing procurement officials, including those who have not previously taken part in the assessment of invitation to tender responses will be persuaded to pocket corresponding thumb-drives (or CDs), and offer them in return for employment, to competitors of owners of these same CDs – thereby transferring innovative design solutions and Intellectual Property Rights, which can then be used by unscrupulous recipients to grab a larger share of the defence market.

    They are inclined to act in this desperate manner to keep their career hopes alive – the question of moral compulsion doesn’t come into it!

    Such behaviour only reinforces the view that defence procurement officials have nothing to offer potential employers in the private sector, except someone else’s property! And when these people arrive on Contractors’ premises, they promptly become a burden on fellow co-workers and the payroll because they do not have the necessary skills (due to being selected for reasons other than merit) as Task Performers, to add value to the business, only costs.

    What’s more, because many Defence Contractors do not have a ‘Code on Ethical Behaviour in Business’ in place, they will not only happily accept such proprietary information without any qualms, but also encourage its removal from MoD Abbey Wood – such is their twisted sense of morality!

    Incidentally, if first and lower-tier subcontractors like small and medium-sized enterprises feel that they have been unfairly treated by ITT recipients regarding intellectual property or innovative solutions that may have been inadvertently revealed in their Management Plans, then they should put their case directly to Abbey Wood Team Leader who has the power to sanction ITT recipients through the negative scoring facility, when marking ITT responses.
    @JagPatel3 on twitter

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