MP jailed for three months after lying about speeding

Former Labour member Fiona Onasanya claimed someone else was driving her car

British MP Fiona Onasanya has been jailed for three months for lying to police after she was caught speeding.

The Peterborough MP was found guilty of perverting the course of justice by claiming someone else was driving her car on July 24th, 2017.

The 35-year-old solicitor appeared at the Old Bailey to be sentenced alongside her brother Festus Onasanya (34) who pleaded guilty to three similar charges, including the July incident.

Mr Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith jailed the MP for three months and sentenced her brother to 10 months in prison.

The judge said: “It is not one law for those in a position of responsibility and power and another for those that do not.

“It’s a tragedy that you find yourselves here and in this predicament, but it is a tragedy that you have brought on yourselves.”

He told Ms Onasanya: “You have not simply let yourself down, you have let down those who look to you for inspiration, your party, your profession and parliament.”

He told singer Mr Onasanya: “It takes some courage to face the music in cases such as this.”

The judge said Ms Onasanya’s case was out of the ordinary because the crime was “totally out of character” and possibly committed out of misplaced loyalty to her brother.

Her life as a new MP in 2017 was “extremely hectic and chaotic” and she had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when police began to pursue her.

After her brother falsely filled out her Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), she made the “disastrous decision” to keep up the lie from November 2017, he said.

The judge said jail could be expected for giving false information even in lesser cases because it “undermines the very system of criminal justice”.

‘Disastrous effect’

Mitigating, Christine Agnew QC said: “Regardless of the sentence it will have a disastrous effect on every aspect of her life and career, a career she has worked very hard for.

"She has already been expelled from the Labour Party. At the moment she continues as an independent MP and the reason for that is it is her only income.

“It is highly likely as a result of today’s sentencing hearing that she will lose her seat as an MP.

“It’s not just a fall from grace. It’s a very public fall from grace. She will inevitably be struck off as a solicitor.

“Her life as a politician and as a solicitor have effectively come to an end.

“The point that has cried out from this case from the outset – why on earth put everything at stake for the sake of, at most, three penalty points and a fine?”

The court heard evidence that the MP was on her mobile phone as well as speeding on the evening of Monday, July 24th, 2017, during the summer recess.

She was clocked going 41mph in a 30mph zone in the village of Thorney, near Peterborough.

The speed camera was near the home of her former aide Dr Christian DeFeo, who she had visited that evening, the court heard.

She was sent an NIP to fill out, but it was sent back naming the driver as Aleks Antipow – a former tenant of her brother – who was visiting his parents in Russia.

When she was contacted by police, she stood by the false nomination.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said he was certain she had been behind the wheel on July 24th and had she accepted the speeding offence it would have had “no real or lasting embarrassment” to her as an MP.

He told her: “The impact of your conviction has been disastrous for you.”

The court heard Mr Onasanya, from Cambridge, provided false details to avoid speeding prosecutions on two other occasions.

He had nine points on his licence and faced losing his licence if he got any more, the court heard.

Mitigating for Mr Onansanya, Jonathan Barnard said his client had no reason at the time to believe he had not been driving on July 24th.

Mr Barnard said the former delivery driver had turned his life around since being sent to jail for robbery.

He had been pursuing his “dream job” as a singer and performer and now makes a living from it – a “remarkable” achievement for a man with his troubled past, Mr Barnard said.

The court heard Mr Onasanya had a string of previous convictions dating back to 2008.

They included cannabis and cocaine possession, criminal damage, driving offences and one jail term for robbery.

His sister took the marginal seat from the Conservatives with a majority of just 607 at the 2017 election.

Parliamentary rules require the removal of an MP who is jailed for 12 months or more.

But with a lesser sentence, a recall petition can force a byelection if it is signed by more than 10 per cent of the electorate in the Cambridgeshire seat. – PA