Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya ‘lied persistently and deliberately’ court told

Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya’s own campaign manager exposed her as a liar who had plotted with her brother to dodge a speeding ticket, a court heard today (Wednesday).

Labour MP Ms Onasanya, (35), claimed a Russian man was behind the wheel when her Micra was caught travelling at 41mph in a 30mph zone in Thorney.

Fiona Onasanya

Fiona Onasanya

But he was over 1,000 miles away in his homeland with his parents, the Old Bailey heard.

Jurors were told the case is being retried, and during the first trial her campaign communications manager dramatically came forward to tell the police Onasanya had been at his home in Thorney near the speed camera on the night it was activated.

Dr Christian DeFeo and his wife Caroline had read online press reports of Onasanya’s first trial in the Peterborough Telegraph.

The couple remembered the MP visited them at their home on The Causeway in Thorney, on the evening she is said to have committed the speeding offence.

Dr DeFeo checked his emails and confirmed that she was at their home on July 24 to discuss a meeting with the local council the following day.

‘They realised the possible significance of what they had worked out between them and they came forward as witnesses,’ said prosecutor David Jeremy.

‘They recall she drove to the meeting at their home in her car. She arrived and left alone in that car.

‘The evidence of the DeFeos exposes Ms Onasanya’s story as a dishonest construction put together from top to bottom with lies.’

Onasanya had recently completed a speed awareness course but was served with a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) when she was flashed by the speed camera.

When the paperwork was returned it named a man called Aleks Antipow as the driver and provided an address and telephone number for him, the Old Bailey heard.

‘Mr Antipow does exist, but he was not driving Ms Onasanya’s car on 24 July 2017,’ said Mr Jeremy.

‘He was in fact at home with his parents in Russia.’

Onasanya and her brother, musician Festus Onasanya, 33, rented a property in Chesterton, Cambridge, where Mr Antipow had lived between August and September 2016.

Mr Jeremy said the MP hoped Mr Antipow would never be traced and she would escape prosecution.

Her brother had used the method to avoid prosecution and Onasanya, who is a trained solicitor decided she would too, jurors heard.

The MP, from Peterborough, denies a single charge of perverting the course of justice but Festus has admitted three identical allegations, the court was told.

‘It must, as some of us will know, be very irritating to receive that bit of paper telling us we have triggered a speed camera and asking us to name the driver of the car,’ Mr Jeremy said.

‘But while irritation is perhaps an understandable human reaction, telling lies to frustrate an investigation into an offence is not.

‘What Miss Onasanya did when her vehicle was trapped on the 24th July 2017, was not just to own up and tell the truth, which would have been so much better.

‘It was to adopt her brother’s method of evading prosecution and thus being able to speed as often as he liked with impunity.

‘The two of them were acting jointly in telling lies in order to prevent the prosecution of the true driver.’

After working as a solicitor, Ms Onasanya took her seat in the Houses of Parliament in 2017 with a majority of 607 votes.

She ousted former Conservative MP Stewart Jackson and became a party whip, responsible for discipline within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

The court heard Onasanya’s Micra was clocked on The Causeway in Thorney, Cambridgeshire, at 10.03pm on 24 July 2017.

The MP had trigged another speed camera on the 26th January but avoided getting points on her licence by completing a speed awareness course.

The House of Commons rose for its summer recess on Thursday 20 July; days before her Micra triggered the speed camera just outside Peterborough the following Monday.

Jurors heard her expenses forms showed that she claimed for hotel accommodation in London on Friday 21 July 2017 but not again until September 2017.

Cell site data showed both of the politician’s mobile phones connecting with cells in the area of the traffic camera in Thorney at the time it was triggered.

‘Where was she? Was someone else using both of her phones in that area? Was someone else driving her car?’ Mr Jeremy asked.

‘What sort of a coincidence would it have had to have been for others to have been using both her phones and car to be in the area of that traffic camera?’

Mr Jeremy said while her life as an MP ‘would doubtless have been a busy one’, it would also have been a ‘highly structured’ one with her and various assistants keeping a variety of communications and diaries.

‘When she received that NIP towards the end of the first week in August she would have been able to work out easily and exactly where she had been on that previous Monday,’ the prosecutor said.

Cambridgeshire Police sent an NIP to Mr Antipow, which came back marked ‘return to sender – not known at this address’.

A letter was then sent to the MP on 14 September asking her to provide the correct details.

Jurors heard that in her reply she stated: ‘I am not sure how I can be of further assistance.

‘I have supplied the details made known to me as well as the licence information. It is a criminal offence to say I was the driver when I was not. I have provided a completed nomination previously and do not have any other information other than that which has been provided.’

Mr Jeremy added: ‘That can only have been a reference to Aleks Antipow.’

After another NIP was unsuccessfully mailed to Mr Antipow, an investigator on behalf of the Cambridgeshire Camera Ticket unit emailed Onasanya on 16 October asking her to get in touch.

When she failed to respond, he wrote her a letter dated 25 October telling her that an investigation had been commenced.

The prosecutor told jurors she again failed reply but an investigator was eventually able to contact her on 2 November after finding a Parliamentary number for her online.

They spoke that morning and jurors heard the investigator noted the conversation on the computer system, detailing how ‘she stands by her nomination’ and adding that ‘the details written within the document were completed by the nominated driver’.

‘Ms Onasanya therefore claimed that Mr Antipow filled in his own details,’ Mr Jeremy said.

‘That is untrue.’

From 12 December onwards a police officer became involved in the investigation and made a number of calls to her London Parliamentary Office and local constituency office leaving messages asking her to call him.

After hand delivering a letter to her home address two days later Onasanya arranged to attend a voluntary interview at Bedford Police Headquarters on 2 January this year.

Mr Jeremy told jurors Ms Onasanya ‘must have been an extremely busy person as a newly elected MP’ but said her ‘reluctance’ to engage with the investigators was not just down to her hectic schedule.

‘Once she had made the really bad choice of adopting her brother’s method of making prosecutions for speed camera traps disappear - once she had made that really bad choice - she was trapped in a number of lies and at every stage she had to keep lying or confess and admit what she had done,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately and sadly she has just kept on lying all the way to this court.’

Onasanya refused to answer police questions when she was interviewed.

‘This case did in fact start as a case about an offence of speeding,’ Mr Jeremy said.

‘It has become, as a result of the choices made by Ms Onasanya, a case about lying.

‘Lying persistently and deliberately. Lying all the way to this court, and it may be even lying in this court.

‘Lying in a way that has had to be coordinated with lies told by her brother.

‘Lying to avoid prosecution for a breach of the laws that apply, or that should apply, to every single one of us whoever we may be.

‘And what a shame she did not tell the truth from the beginning.’

Onasanya, of Peterborough, denies one count of perverting the course of justice.

She is not in the dock as the judge has allowed her to sit at a desk at the back of the courts to take notes.

Trial judge Mr Justice Stuart-Smith told the new panel of six men and six women that Onasanya is being retried.

He said the previous hearing had generated a great deal of publicity and told the jury to ignore it.

‘You have taken your oath or affirmation promising to try the case on the evidence and nothing else,’ he said.

He warned jurors not to research the case on the internet and suggested they should turn off their social media accounts during the trial, no matter how difficult that might be.

‘The social media on this case was unreliable at best and some of it was outrageous,’ the judge said.

The trial continues.