Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya to discover her fate at sentencing hearing

Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya will be sentenced at The Old Bailey today (Tuesday) after being found guilty of Perverting The Course of Justice last month.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 4:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:29 pm
Fiona Onasanya in Peterborough Picture by Terry Harris.

Ms Onasanya and her brother Festus Onasanya will both appear in the dock in court room 2 at the famous London court at 10am in front of the Honourable Mr Justice Stuart-Smith.

Last month Ms Onasanya was found guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice following a re-trial at The Old Bailey. The jury found she had lied about who was behind the wheel of her Nissan Micra when it was caught speeding in Thorney.

A jury had been unable to reach a verdict at the original trial a month before.

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Fiona Onasanya in Peterborough Picture by Terry Harris.

Mr Onasanya pleaded guilty to three counts of perverting the course of justice on November 5. One of the counts he admitted is the same count Ms Onasanya was found guilty of.

Ms Onasanya, a trained solicitor, could lose her seat as Peterborough MP as a result of the sentencing today, which is taking place even though she has lodged an appeal against her conviction.

If she receives a jail sentence of more than a year, she will lose her seat. This includes a suspended sentence - for example, if she gets a sentence of 12 months and one day, suspended for 18 months, she would lose her seat.

If she receives a custodial sentence of a year or less, then she will not automatically lose her seat - for example, if she gets a sentence of 12 months, suspended for 18 months.

In this case, a recall petition would be set up. The recall petition would mean that if 10 per cent of the constituents in her constituency sign the petition - which would be open for six weeks - then a by-election would be called.

However, the recall petition cannot be opened until the appeals process has concluded, which could take several months.

Her appeal would make no difference if the sentence is more than a year.

If she does not get a custodial sentence, then she will be able to continue as MP.

There is some case history for the court to consider. Former Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne was jailed for eight months in 2013 after pleading guilty to the same charge after lying over a speeding ticket.

The trial heard how Ms Onasanya named a Russian man as the driver of the car when it was caught speeding in July 2017.

However, the Russian man was in his native country at the time the offence was committed.

The MP said friends and family often drove her car - and she was not sure who had been driving at the time.

She also said she had not filled in the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), having left it at her mother’s ‘for the correct driver to fill in.’

She has made no comment on the guilty verdict, but has since been sacked by the Labour Party, and is now an independent MP.

However, in a leaked WhatsApp conversation with other Labour MPs, she compared her situation to that of Jesus and other Biblical figures.