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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Mattha Busby

Ex-Met officer who took bribes from nightclub bosses jailed for seven years

Frank Partridge.
Frank Partridge became ‘bedazzled by the glitz and glamour of this lifestyle’, the court heard. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

A former Metropolitan police sergeant has been jailed for seven and a half years for taking bribes while working in licensing for bars and nightclubs in the West End of London.

Frank Partridge, 50, who joined the force at 17 and was known by some as “Fun Time Frankie”, was last week found guilty by a jury of four counts of bribery and cleared of a further count of bribery. He was sentenced on Tuesday.

Partridge worked in the Westminster licensing unit between 2013 and 2015 and was responsible for consulting the local authority over applications for licensed premises and supervising venues to ensure compliance.

Southwark crown court heard he had accepted a luxury family holiday to Morocco worth almost £7,000, tickets to exclusive events including a party held by Elton John, renovation work to his home worth nearly £8,000, and other miscellaneous gifts.

The Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, admitted last year that there “must be hundreds [of officers] who are behaving disgracefully, undermining our integrity and need ejecting”. It followed a leaked 2003 Scotland Yard report that detailed “endemic police corruption” at the Met.

Partridge was initially sacked from the force in 2016 for improperly travelling in first-class rail carriages. Jurors heard that before this, he had formed an “unprofessional and inappropriately close” relationship with people linked to nightclubs and security businesses in London’s West End, including the Cirque le Soir nightclub owner Ryan Bishti.

Bishti, along with the Dstrkt nightclub owner Anna Ginandes, were also convicted of bribery. “Those relationships directly benefited Frank Partridge financially and the individuals because they had someone with Frank Partridge’s powers in their pocket,” the prosecutor, Philip Evans KC, told jurors.

Patrick Gibbs KC, defending, said Partridge became “bedazzled by the glitz and glamour of this lifestyle” and added that the six-and-a-half-year delay between him being arrested and charged was not the defendant’s fault.

“Licensing was more or less disastrous for him in facilitating his drinking and it contributed to the worsening of his drinking, including at lunchtime while on duty,” he said. “He’s not a wicked man, he didn’t go to licensing as a wicked man hoping to be corrupted, looking to be corrupted – but he was a greedy, perhaps, man, a weak man who too readily accepted that which he was offered.”

The judge, Christopher Hehir, said: “The story behind these verdicts is a troubling, disappointing and also in parts a sleazy one … What you did was to accept substantial bribes from people who owned or had interests in nightclubs or who provided security to such venues.

“You were now mixing with very wealthy individuals and ended up wanting some of what they had.”

The judge added that he was “satisfied to the criminal standard” that Partridge did use the services of a sex worker, despite denying it.

“Back then I did a lot of stupid things over that time,” Partridge told the court. “I realise that now but that definitely wasn’t one of them.”

He insisted that he nonetheless always remained “impartial” even while accepting gifts from “friends”. “I accept now, wrongly at the time I accepted gifts, but at the time I had convinced myself it was OK because my performance was not improper,” Partridge said, according to reports.

He claimed to have been sober for the last three and a half years. “It’s been a long and difficult journey,” he told the court.

Partridge was jailed for seven and a half years, of which he will serve half before being released on licence.

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