How Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya could lose her seat after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice

Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya could lose the seat she gained in June 2017 after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice at the Old Bailey.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 2:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:18 am

Ms Onasanya will automatically lose her seat if she is jailed for longer than 12 months at a sentencing at a later date.

If she is given a custodial (or suspended) sentence of less than a year, and she does not appeal, then under the Recall of MPs Act 2015 a recall petition would open which would be run by Peterborough’s returning officer Gillian Beasley, who is the chief executive of Peterborough City Council.

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Fiona Onasanya

If 10 per cent of the electorate in the constituency signed it within six weeks, Ms Onasanya would lose her seat and a by-election would be triggered, which she could stand in.

No MP has yet been recalled under the act, although Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley Jr narrowly avoided being recalled after he was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days in July for failing to declare two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

The recall petition was signed by 9.4 per cent of voters in his North Antrim constituency.

While MPs are technically not able to resign, if she chooses to stand down from her position as MP of Peterborough following the court case, she will be appointed as either Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham or Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

These roles disqualify someone from sitting as an MP as they are an ‘office of profit under the Crown.’

Previous holders of the role Chiltern of the Three Chiltern Hundreds include former Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne - who resigned his seat after pleading guilty to Perverting The Course of Justice - the charge Ms Onasanya has been covicted of.

The post has also been held by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, and the former Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd.

People who have held the role of Steward of the Manor of Northstead include former Prime Minister David Cameron, former Labour MP David Milliband and former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.