Daniel Bruce

Chief Executive

Daniel joined Transparency International UK as Chief Executive in October 2019. He is an experienced senior leader in international charities, previously serving as Chief Executive of the press freedom and media development organisation Internews.

Press Office
press@transparency.org.uk
+ 44 (0)20 3096 7695 
Out of hours:
Weekends; Weekdays (17.30-21.30):
+44 (0)79 6456 0340

Related Publication

Track and Trace

Publication

The COVID-19 pandemic has required a rapid public health response on a scale and speed unseen in modern times. Whilst those procuring goods and services have sought to expedite the emergency response, we observe a pattern of behaviour whereby critical safeguards for protecting the public purse have been thrown aside without adequate justification.

Emerging evidence from investigative journalists, the National Audit Office (NAO) and public interest litigation highlights these in startling detail.

Using evidence from these reports and analysis of available data, we identify two key issues concerning procurement practices during the pandemic. We also identify a third, more general issue relating to the mechanisms for ensuring integrity in public office.

From these findings, we propose ten steps that could address some of the concerns raised over the last year, and help avoid similar mistakes being repeated in the future. None of these are particularly costly, with three either complementing or endorsing proposals already included in the UK Government’s Green Paper for reform. If implemented effectively, they have the potential to increase transparency, deliver greater accountability, and reduce the risks associated with contracting, both during a crisis and in normal times.

We hope this provides a critical, yet constructive contribution towards recent debates. Some of what we propose may be uncomfortable for those of which we ask it – subjecting oneself to greater scrutiny is seldom a natural imperative for those in public office – yet these steps are critical to setting the record straight.

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Permission Accomplished

Publication

This report focusses on specific corruption risks in major planning decisions, an area where there is often a large amount of money at stake. It is also very contentious, with many new developments resulting in a net loss of social and genuinely affordable housing, which in many areas are in short supply.

To understand what could undermine openness in the planning process and what local authorities are doing to stop this, we have collected evidence from across England. Although there are some examples of good practice, generally the results make for a worrying read.

Unminuted, closed-door meetings with developers and excessive hospitality undoubtedly undermine confidence in the planning process, yet too many local authorities have weak rules to stop this from happening. Even fewer councils have control measures for major conflicts of interest, with far too many decision-makers also working for developers on the side. Moreover, when councillors behave badly, there are no clear or meaningful sanctions available to councils that could act as an effective deterrent against serious misconduct by them or others in the future.

To address these issues we propose ten practical solutions, none of which are beyond the means of those who need to implement them. All reinforce existing guidance and good practice recommended by anti-fraud and corruption initiatives here and internationally. Some even reflect existing practice in particular parts of the UK, such as Scotland.

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For Whose Benefit? Transparency in the development and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines

Publication

The COVID-19 pandemic has required an unprecedented public health response, with governments dedicating massive amounts of resources to their health systems at extraordinary speed. Governments have had to respond quickly to fast-changing contexts, with many competing interests, and little in the way of historical precedent to guide them.

Transparency here is paramount; publicly available information is critical to reducing the inherent risks of such a situation by ensuring governmental decisions are accountable and by enabling non-governmental expert input into the global vaccination process.

This report analyses transparency of two key stages of the vaccine development in chronological order: the development and subsequent buying of vaccines.

Given the scope, rapid progression and complexity of the global vaccination process, this is not an exhaustive analysis. First, all the following analysis is limited to 20 leading COVID-19 vaccines that were in, or had completed, phase 3 clinical trials as of 11th January 2021. Second, we have concentrated on transparency of two of the initial stages of the process: clinical trial transparency and the public contracting for the supply of vaccines. The report provides concrete recommendations on how to overcome current opacity in order to contribute to achieving the commitment of world leaders to ensure equal, fair and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries.

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What was the big theme dominating the headlines in the last year or so?  The COVID-19 pandemic of course. I expect a degree of head-shaking at such an obvious question.

Yet it was also 12 months in which corruption and lack of transparency achieved a troubling degree of attention.

From the British Government’s COVID-19 response to ministers’ and MPs’ conflicts of interest; from the businesses caught up in bribery scandals to the devastating effect of corruption in defence forces around the world which triggered or aggravated conflicts or led to the total collapse of government.

If 2020/21 was the year corruption took centre stage, its toll on the public was also more clear-cut than ever. Whether that was UK hospitals unable to access high quality or reasonably priced personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff and patients, planning decisions seemingly based on who you know rather than the public interest, or millions fleeing their homes and countries when the safest place to be should have been at home.

Against the backdrop of this extraordinary 18 months of modern history, we are launching Transparency International UK’s impact report for 2020/21 - an overview of our hard-won achievements through our robust research, advocacy and convening during the last financial year.

I would encourage you to look at the impact report itself to get the full picture. But here is a taste of some of the highlights:

  • Our seminal Track and Trace report revealed how personal protective equipment (PPE) and other Covid response contracts in the UK worth billions of pounds were allocated in seemingly partisan and systematically biased ways, raising red flags for corruption in 20% of all such spending. Cited in the House of Commons and extensively in the media, we hope it will eventually feed into the public inquiry into Coronavirus in the UK.
  • The British Virgin Islands (BVI), the overseas territory of choice for those setting up companies to hide the proceeds of corruption, finally committed, after continued pressure, to introduce public beneficial ownership registers alongside other UK offshore financial centres. Shutting down a major hub for dirty money will significantly reduce Britain’s role as a facilitator of global corruption.
  • In response to sustained pressure, the UK Government also announced it would introduce a series of reforms to corporate transparency in the UK. These include new measures tightening the rules for those forming companies in the UK, though this has still to find parliamentary time.
  • Our Permission Accomplished report uncovered the risks of corruption in planning decisions in local government. Its recommendations have already been taken up by councils and local and national politicians around the country. Our evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, England’s standards watchdog, fed into its much anticipated Integrity Matters 2 review, with many of our recommendations reflected in its interim finding
  • For Whose Benefit, investigated the lack of transparency in COVID-19 vaccine trials and vaccine contracts. We are using the report to advocate for national governments to adopt and enforce legislation requiring registration and publication of trial results within a year. We are also calling for vaccine developers to publish trial protocols on a publicly accessible registry.
  • The 2020 Defence Companies Index on Anti-Corruption and Corporate Transparency (DCI) measured the commitments to transparency and anti-corruption of the world’s leading defence companies. It revealed that nearly three out of four show little to no commitment to tackling corruption.

 

There is still much to do.

For instance, ensuring that the UK government lives up to its commitments to strengthening Britain’s defences against dirty money by setting aside parliamentary time to pass legislation on Companies House reform and a public register of the true owners of overseas companies that hold property here.

Meanwhile, after a slew of lobbying and political integrity scandals we, with allies, must redouble efforts to secure meaningful reforms to the oversight and enforcement of the highest standards in public life.

Through our global work, we will continue to challenge governments to reduce insecurity by improving transparency of defence governance; we will work globally and with national partners to prevent corruption undermining access to COVID-19 vaccines in the areas of greatest risk.

Our new strategy launched earlier in the year outlines our approach to the challenges ahead, building on our successes and strengths. What is clear is that we cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal despite other major world events.

Our achievements this year show that our determined, evidence-based approach to preventing corruption and promoting transparency and integrity really does make a difference. I would like to thank you for your support and hope you will continue to back us in the years to come.