Jury begin deliberating verdict in Peterborough Labour MP Fiona Onasanya perverting the course of justice case at Old Bailey
The jury who will decide if Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya is guilty or not of perverting the course of justice have begun their deliberations.
The 11 remaining jurors - one of the original 12 was discharged for health reasons earlier this week - heard the final part of a Judge Nicholas Hilliard’s summing up this morning before leaving Court Room 6 at the historic Old Bailey to start their discussions.
The jury, made up of six men and five women, began deliberating at 10.38am on Thursday, November 22.
Judge Nicholas Hilliard told the jury he could only accept unanimous verdicts at this stage.
He told the 11 jurors: “Nobody knows how long you will need.
“You are under no pressure of time.”
Labour MP Fiona Onasanya, who is at court and dressed all in black, is alleged to have plotted with brother Festus Onasanya to name a Russian man as the driver when her car was caught travelling at 41mph in a 30mph zone in Thorney in July last year. The Russian man is said to have been in his native country at the time.
The MP said friends and family often drove her car - and she was not sure who had been driving at the time.
She said she left the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) at her mother’s house ‘for the driver to fill in,’ with Mr Onasanya later telling her he had sorted it.
Ms Onasanya denies the charge. Mr Onasanya has pleaded guilty to three counts of perverting the course of justice.
Yesterday Christine Agnew QC, defending, heaped blame onto Festus, describing him as a "charming chancer".
Ms Agnew said: "He is a chancer and he is a dishonest chancer. He is somebody who will manipulate anyone to get out of a hole.
Ms Agnew added: "What's she guilty of? She's guilty of not completing the NIP properly. She's guilty of not asking her brother as many questions as she should have done.”
David Jeremy QC, prosecuting, said Ms Onasanya had been ‘flexible with the truth.’
Mr Jeremy told jurors: “I doubt that you will derive a great deal of pleasure from having to decide this case. It should of course have never come to this: a trial at the Old Bailey.
“Ms Onasanya is undoubtedly a talented, hard-working public servant. You should make every allowance for everything that you have heard in her favour.”
But he said Onasanya’s alleged lie was “not just one aberration” and she could have changed her case at any time. “It was a succession of lies over many months,” he said.
The MP admitted relations were ‘strained’ with Festus as a result of the case - but he ‘was still my brother.’
When she approached him about the case on November 5 following his guilty plea, she said he had just said ‘sorry.’
In police interview she made no comment to detectives- and said she had felt ‘overwhelmed.’
She said: “I’m a commercial property solicitor. I’ve never been in an interview like this before.”