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Sussex puts corruption centre stage at conference

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Banking scandals, pension frauds, tax evasion, MPs’ expenses, vote-rigging, bribery – tales of corruption always make big news, but what is the real impact of corruption, and how can we fight it?

A new research centre at the University of Sussex will highlight the role of corruption in business, politics, the law and public life and seek out new ways to combat its pernicious effects across the globe.

To launch its work, the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption (SCSC) is joining forces with international anti-corruption NGO Transparency International UK  and leading law firm Clifford Chance to host a special conference this week at Canary Wharf (6-7 September 2012).

The conference –The Fight against Corruption: Achievements, Challenges and Future Prospects – will provide a unique overview of research being carried out in this area and look to the challenges facing a world in the throes of economic and political upheaval.

More than 240 attendees from academia, big business, politics, regulatory bodies and campaign organisations will join in the conference at the Clifford Chance offices in Canary Wharf, one of the biggest financial quarters in the world.

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Sir Christopher Kelly, head of the committee on standards in public life in the UK, who will be speaking on the challenge of upholding standards in complex democracies;
  •  John Githongo, the former permanent secretary for ethics and governance in Kenya, He will be talking about his own anti-corruption experiences, which ultimately led to him having to flee the country.

The SCSC involves the work of Sussex academics from across the disciplines, including Law, Sociology, Politics, Psychology, Anthropology and Development Studies.

The SCSC will focus on the processes behind major scandals of the past, from Watergate to MPs’ expenses in UK, and compare and draw lessons from corruption and anti-corruption discourses, ideas and movements.

Dr Dan Hough, Reader in Politics at the University of Sussex and Director of SCSC, says: “Corruption has been around for as long as people have organised themselves, but never has it come under the spotlight as much as it does now. 

“Individual cases have always been high profile, but the sheer number of corrupt acts that have been reported in recent times is unprecedented.”

The conference coincides with the publication of Dr Hough’s new book, Corruption, Anti-Corruption and Governance, (Palgrave Macmillan), which looks at anti-corruption approaches in the UK, Germany, Poland, South Korea, Kenya and Bangladesh. 

Dr Hough’s book subsequently analyses under which conditions particular anti-corruption strategies and policies are most likely to work best.

The catalyst for setting up the SCSC, says Dr Hough, was the MPs’ expenses scandal: “The disconnect between what the wider world saw as corrupt and what the rules and regulations permitted for MPs, who simply claimed that all they were doing was following the rules as they were laid down, was subsequently very revealing. 

“It made us realise that there was plenty of scope for academia to contribute to analysing the three questions that have subsequently come to shape the SCSC's work; what is corruption, what subsequently causes it and most importantly what can be done about it?”

In addition to research, the SCSC will also be running a one-year masters programme in Corruption and Governance, starting in September (2012).

Notes for Editors

The Fight against Corruption: Achievements, Challenges and Future Prospects takes place on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 September 2012 at Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf, London.

See the conference web pages and conference programme for full details.

The SCSC is a research centre in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex.  The centre takes an interdisciplinary approach to analysing what corruption is, where and why it flourishes and also what (most importantly) can be done to counteract it. The SCSC aims to be a world-leading centre of corruption analysis, working closely with organisations such as Transparency International in developing recommendations and proposals for combating corruption in the UK and around the world, in government, politics and business, as well as analysing attempts to tackle international crime and transnational offending.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2012