Shamed MP gets three months

The crooked Labour politician who lied to police to dodge a speeding ticket has become the first serving woman MP to be jailed.

Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya, 35, was clocked doing 41mph in a 30mph zone on The Causeway in Thorney, Cambridgeshire, shortly after 10pm on 24 July 2017.

She plotted with her brother Festus, 34, to avoid prosecution for the offence by naming Aleks Antipow as the driver of the Nissan Micra.

Mr Antipow, the sibling’s former lodger, was at home with his parents in Russia 1,800 miles away.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith sentenced Festus, who has several previous convictions and served 54 days in jail for robbery in 2011, to 10 months jail.

He told Onasayna that three months was the ‘shortest possible sentence I am able to impose.’

Both showed no trace of emotion as they were sentenced.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith took into account that the MP suffers from multiple sclerosis and her career was over.

He said: ‘It is a tragedy that you find yourselves and here in this predicament but it is a tragedy that you have bought upon yourselves.

‘You had a choice whether to tell the truth or to attempt to pervert the course of justice – you made the wrong choice with disastrous consequences.’

Onasayna has not accepted the verdict of the jury but Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said: ‘As a solicitor yourself, you know I am bound by it.’

The shamed MP insisted she had could not remember who had been driving her car – and she had left a form dealing with the notice of prosecution for her brother to fill in.

But during the first trial her former head of communications, Dr Christian DeFeo, and his wife approached prosecutors with dramatic new evidence.

They told the court Onasanya had been with them on the night the car was caught by the speed camera just yards down the road.

Onasanya was a former county councillor who won the Peterborough election on 8 June 2017.

The House of Commons rose for its summer recess on 20 July, days before the speed camera trap caught her car speeding.

Within weeks she was appointed to a select committee and became a parliamentary private secretary to the shadow defence secretary.

But those positions were relinquished when Onasanya was promoted to the whip’s office overseeing, amongst other things, party discipline in January 2018.

Christine Agnew, QC, told the court: ‘She has always accepted that she may have been driving that evening. She has no recollection.

‘She is a reliable and committed MP. Through every step of her life she has sought to do good.

‘Her sentence will have a disastrous impact on her life and career.

‘She had already been expelled from the Labour Party and has continued to act as an independent MP because it is her only source of income.

‘She will likely lose her seat in Parliament. It is not just a fall from grace. It is a public fall from grace.

‘She will inevitably be struck off as a solicitor.

‘Not only does she have to deal with the end of her career but her debilitating illness.’

The court heard how her brother was making ‘inroads towards his dream’ of becoming a successful singer and took ‘desperate measures’ to try and save his driving licence and his fledgling career.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said: ‘I will not draw any inference about the person he was in 2017 because all the character evidence shows a person who has made real efforts to turn his life around.’

His defence barrister, Jonathan Barnard said: ‘He knows he is going well to prison but everything I’m directing at your Lordship is to keep that sentence as short as possible.

‘He was employed full-time and was making serious inroads to his dream of becoming a singer and a musician.’

The court heard how he was succeeding in a career which would be ‘a miracle’ for anyone, and even more so for someone with his background.

‘It was a means to an end and the end was his career,’ Mr Barnard said.

Onasanya, of Peterborough, denied perverting the course of justice but was convicted by the jury.

Her brother, of Chesterton, Cambridge, admitted three counts of the same charge.
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