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SECRET COMMISSIONS AND BRIBERY.…

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SECRET COMMISSIONS AND BRIBERY. 1 To the Editor. Sir,-What is known as the Canteens case, after protracted proceedings at Bow Street and at the Central Criminal Court, has resulted in the conviction of all the seventeen defendants who were tired. One of the accused has been sent to prison for six months, two have been fined the maximum amount, £500 one, £100; and four, B50 each the others being bound over to come upsfor judgement if called upon. Mr Justice Darling, in passing sentence, said it was a very common thing to blame a system when people got into trouble. There was no such thing as a system unconnected with individual vaen. Addressing the noncommis- sioned Officers, his Lordship added that from this moment onwards, now that in a public Court it had been brought home to every one serving in the army that to take a tip from a contractor admitted of no excuse in law, it must be distinctly understood that the day of leniency was past, and that every one wearing the uniform appearing before a civil Court would be sent to prison. In his opening, statement at the trial, the Attorney-General observed that tfhe principal witness for the Crown had been sent to the Secret Commissions and Bribery Prevention League—a body which exercised itself to see that corruption, which was so destructive of commercial principles and integrity, should be £ ut down-and it investigated the matter. The LeaKue then communicated with the War Office, which made a further investigation of its own, and the present prosecution was eventually started." And in his final remarks, Sir John Simon impressed upon the jury the fact that this was a case where they had cast on them a duty which, if it be discharged, may do some- thing to make the reputation of English commercial life better than it is." There can scarcely be two opinions as to the importance of the Canteens case, or as to the good effects which it must have and, as,members of the Executive Committee of the League, we wish to point out that had it not been for the Leaguei it is very improbable that the prosecu-, tions would have been instituted. The League, notwithstanding many difficulties and much private opposition, is attempting to carry out what should be regarded as a national work. Although it has upwards of 400 members comprising many leading commercial firms and public and professional men, it cannot be said to receive adequate support in its efforts to educate public opinion and enforce the observ- ance of the Prevention of Corruption Act. We desire very earnestly, however, to urge all those to join the League who agree with the late Lord Russell of Killowen that this business of corrupt bargains is a malignant canker, affecting honesty in all relations of life. That the Prevention of Corruption Act is not a dead letter is largely due to the League, whose usefulness might be greatly increased if it had that national support which was hoped for but is still lacking. It would be absurd to expect a deep-seated evil like bribery could be eradicated within a short space of time, and as Sir Edward Fry, the President of the, League, has observed: "To cleanse the Augean stable required the strength of a Hercules to cleanse our commercial and professional life of the foulness of bribery and corruption will require patience on the part of the League and the co-operation of all men who love pure and clean hands. The active work- ers in the League are patient, but they feel it would be a great national advantage if they had more of the co-operation mentioned by Sir Edward Fry. It is worth noting that the Geruft4 anti- bribery society, which was formed on the lines of the English League in 1911, has now some 1,500 members. All Communications addressed to the Secretary of the Secret Commission and Bribery Prevention League, Incorporated, 9, Queen Street Place, London, E. 0., will be carefully considered and regarded by him, if desired, as strictly confidential. We are. yours faithfully. DAVID HOWARD. T HAMILTON FOX. A B LAMBERT. G H LONGMAN. STANLEY MACHIN. FRED A OETZMANN. HAL WILLIAMS. ■ ■ '■

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