Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya tells court she was '˜betrayed' by her brother
Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya told a court she was '˜betrayed' by her desperate brother who sacrificed her to save his own licence.
Labour MP Onasanya, 35, is said to have claimed a Russian man was behind the wheel of her Nissan Micra when it was caught doing 41mph in a 30pmh zone in a Cambridgeshire village.
But the nominated driver was over 1,000 miles away in his homeland with his parents, the Old Bailey has heard.
Ms Onasanya’s former campaign communications manager told jurors the MP visited his home on the same road as the speed camera the night it was triggered.
Her younger brother Festus, 33, has admitted three charges of perverting the course of justice in relation to supplying false details while nominating a driver on three separate Notices of Intended Prosecution (NIP) for speeding offences – including the one sent to her.
Giving evidence, Ms Onasanya told jurors that since her first trial last month her sibling told her he was behind the wheel on the evening of 24 July last year.
The politician claimed she visited the DeFeos in the afternoon and said that Festus admitted to her that he took her car out later that evening and coincidentally happened to drive it along the very same road.
She added that he then forged her signature on the paperwork when she left the form at her mother’s address to cover the whole thing up.
Jurors heard Ms Onasanya mistakenly believed she was in London at the time of the offence and left the form with her mother for her or her brother to complete as they would have likely been driving her car.
‘He let you, his elder sister, an MP, go through the indignity of being interviewed under caution by the police?’ prosecutor David Jeremy QC asked her of her account.
When she replied ‘yes’, he continued: ‘He allowed you to be charged with perverting the course of justice in May 2018 without telling you what he had done, and he has caused you the strain and public humiliation of prosecution at this court for an offence of which you are entirely innocent?
‘That is what Festus has done if you are telling the truth?’
Ms Onasanya repeatedly agreed, saying: ‘I know.’
Mr Jeremy carried on: ‘He’s done these terrible things to you to save three points on his licence?’
The MP replied: ‘He thought that he would lose his licence because he had nine points and if he lost his licence he would lose his income and if he lost his income he would not have been able to pay the rent for his house.’
Mr Jeremy asked her what she would have done if Festus had approached her at the beginning of it all and told her ‘I have got this scheme to avoid being prosecuted’ for speeding and using his phone behind the wheel.
‘I would have been very shocked, amazed and really disappointed,’ Ms Onasanya told jurors.
She confirmed that Festus knew she was ‘a public figure with a reputation at stake which he was putting at risk’ but told jurors her brother said it was a case of ‘desperate times take desperate measures’.
‘He couldn’t afford to lose his licence,’ she repeated.
Asked how he could expect to get away with it without her knowledge, she pointed to his other guilty pleas, replying: ‘Because he had done it before.’
Mr Jeremy suggested Festus had ‘betrayed’ and ‘manipulated’ her if her story was true.
‘Yes,’ she agreed.
But the prosecutor contrasted the achievements of ‘the star of the family’, the ‘ruthlessly ambitious’ politician, and Festus, the delivery driver who left school before completing his GCSEs.
‘You’re not Festus’ victim are you?’ Mr Jeremy continued.
‘He hasn’t sacrificed you for three points on his licence, has he?
‘He hasn’t used you – you’ve been using him, haven’t you?
‘If you are telling the truth, what Festus has done is much worse than just trying to avoid points on his licence, isn’t it?
‘He has committed forgery, a criminal offence in itself.
‘Much worse than that, he’s put an entirely innocent person at risk of being convicted of perverting the course of justice?’
Ms Onasanya confirmed she risks ‘losing her career as an MP and being struck off the roll of solicitors’.
‘It’s much, much worse,’ she added.
Mr Jeremy then suggested the MP had used Festus ‘and his dishonest scheme’ to avoid three points on her own licence.
But Ms Onasanya replied that it would have had ‘no bearing’ on her career either as an MP or a solicitor.
‘What you have done is so much worse than using his scheme,’ Mr Jeremy suggested.
‘What you have done is create a story that makes his crimes so much worse and you have done it to try and get yourself acquitted of this charge.
‘You have sacrificed your own brother, haven’t you?’
Ms Onasanya replied: ‘No.’
The prosecutor accused her of ‘inventing the conversation’ with her brother ‘to cover up one of the problems’ of her evidence at the first trial in which she conceded she may have been driving.
She added on that occasion that, if it was her behind the wheel at the time the camera was activated, she would have been both speeding and using her phone at the same time.
The MP, from Peterborough, denies one count of perverting the course of justice.
The trial continues.