UK court sentences former Ministry of Defence official to 30 months imprisonment for misconduct News
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UK court sentences former Ministry of Defence official to 30 months imprisonment for misconduct

The Southwark Crown Court in London sentenced on Friday former Ministry of Defence (MoD) official Jeffrey Cook to 30 months imprisonment for misconduct in public office between 2004 and 2008. Cook was also Managing Director of GPT Special Project Management Limited (GPT), an Airbus subsidiary. He was convicted of the misconduct charge in March, when he was also acquitted of corruption charges along with John Mason.

The charges against Cook were advanced by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and concerned secret payments in exchange for commissioning work from offshore consultants for the MoD. The investigations revealed Cook concealed payments and gifts of more than £70,000 ($87,198) while he was employed at the MoD and after being transferred to a defense contractor, Paradigm, that was owned by Airbus.

The court found Cook benefitted from a 10 per cent commission on a contract let by the MoD to ME Consultants Ltd, a company run by co-defendant Mason. The SFO further published that Cook received over £44,000 ($ 54,810) in cash and two cars worth over £30,000, arranged via a Chelmsford car dealership belonging to Peter Austin, the principal shareholder at the consultancy.

The court reminded Cook of his duties under the Civil Service Code as an MoD employee, which prohibits the receipt of remuneration other than from the MoD in connection with employment, especially from commercial contractors with the MoD, to which he was still bound following his transfer to Paradigm.

The sentencing court summarized the jury’s findings that Cook acted “improperly” as at the time he was a civil servant employed by the MoD and, therefore, made a personal gain at “the expense of the public purse” by receiving money which “could otherwise have been used for the benefit of the public.”

The court held that in its sentencing that “this offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.” Furthermore, director of the SFO Nick Ephgrave stated, “Jeffrey Cook betrayed public confidence and, thanks to our tenacity on this case, has rightly been held accountable today.”

The corruption charges of which he was acquitted involved Cook and Mason paying £9.7m ($12 m) over five years to a Saudi prince and other high-ranking officials to secure contracts with the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANGCOM). The court then found the payments were authorized by the British and Saudi governments.