Advocates argue that urgent action is needed to confront the scale of corruption that has bled through into everything from the UK’s legal industry, to its housing market and even access to the heart of British politics. The UK government has imposed new corruption sanctions and parliament is currently debating much needed reforms on tackling economic crime.
Still, though, it is unclear if there is the political will to finance the reforms and to strengthen the law enforcement agencies that are supposed to hold the corrupt to account.
Those who expose corruption or who have been the victims of corruption are often alone in facing down the powerful. A growing number of journalists and whistleblowers have been targeted with Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), a form of legal harassment used by powerful individuals and companies to silence their critics through long and costly legal procedures. As for those harmed by corruption, few are ever taken into account or obtain any remedy.
Tom Burgis is a bestselling author and award-winning reporter, previously with the Financial Times and now moving to the investigations team at the Guardian. His Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World (2020) argues that the world’s kleptocrats – those who rule through corruption – are uniting and threaten to overwhelm democracy. (An attempted SLAPP against him failed.) Tom’s first book, The Looting Machine (2015), won the Overseas Press Club of America’s award for best book on international affairs. He is now working on his next book.
Dame Margaret Hodge MP is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax, where she has been relentlessly campaigning against financial crime and dirty money. She has been Labour MP for Barking since 1994. She became the first elected chair of the Public Accounts Committee in 2010, and held that role until 2015. Her ministerial roles have included portfolios across education, work and pensions, business and culture. She was leader of Islington Borough Council from 1982 to 1992. Margaret is also a Visiting Professor at The Policy Institute at King’s College London, and a board member for the Social Market Foundation.
Anneke Van Woudenberg is the executive director of Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), a corporate watchdog NGO which exposes corporate wrongdoing and human rights violations, and partners with those harmed to hold companies to account. Through rigorous investigation, advocacy and the law, RAID works to strengthen regulation and bring justice for victims of corporate abuse. She was previously Deputy Africa Director at Human Rights Watch where for fourteen years she led work across sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region.
Steve Crawshaw is a former UK director of Human Rights Watch, international advocacy director of Amnesty International and policy director at Freedom from Torture. He was Russia and East Europe Editor and chief foreign correspondent at the Independent. He the author of books on Germany, Russia and creative protest, and is now writing a book on war crimes and international justice.