Woman arrested relating to bribery charges in planning application

A 56-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of bribery
A 56-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of bribery relating to a planning application (Image credit: Getty Images)

A 56-year-old woman has been arrested after a recent allegation of bribery in relation to a planning application in Thurrock, Essex.

Essex Police said the investigation related to Thurrock Council, but was unrelated to the local authority’s massive budget gaps.

A police spokesperson said all matters relating to a decision on the planning permission application in question have been placed on hold.

Why was the woman arrested?

Specialist officers and staff from Essex Police are investigating a recent allegation of bribery in relation to a planning application in Thurrock.

A police statement said that officers received information relating to a planning matter that concerned Thurrock Council last month.

Since that report, a specialist team has been assessing the report and an investigation has now been opened.

What is the status of the arrest?

The statement added that as part of that investigation, a member of the public, a 56-year-old woman, was arrested on suspicion of bribery on the morning of Thursday 28 September. She has been released on bail until December. 

At this stage, all matters relating to a decision on the planning application in question have been placed on hold.

The statement added: “This investigation is ongoing and we would encourage anyone with information or concerns to contact us directly by calling 101 and quoting Operation Rome.”

Detective Inspector Lisa Hurrell said: “This investigation has moved along at pace, and we have been in regular contact with Thurrock Council throughout it.

“We take every report of crime made to us seriously and will always take action when it is appropriate.”

A spokesperson for Thurrock Council said: "Thurrock Council is cooperating with Essex Police as they investigate this matter. The person arrested is not an elected representative or an employee of Thurrock Council. We cannot comment further on an active police investigation."

What is the bribery law in the UK?

According to law firm Boodle Hatfield, there are four separate offences under the Bribery Act: giving bribes, taking bribes, giving bribes to foreign public officials, and the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by associated persons.

It adds: “A planning officer or local councillor who takes a bribe will always be committing an offence."

Any planning permission or statutory consent proved to be obtained through bribery or fraud would typically be revoked under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.