Peterborough voters took just two days to oust former MP Fiona Onasanya, Electoral Commission reveals

Peterborough voters took just two days to oust former MP Fiona Onasanya, the Electoral Commission has revealed.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 5:55 pm
Fiona Onasanya. Photo: Terry Harris
Fiona Onasanya. Photo: Terry Harris

Ms Onasanya became the first MP to be successfully recalled from Parliament back in May after she was convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Her three month prison sentence triggered a Recall Petition which needed 10 per cent of eligible voters (6,967) to sign over a six week period to oust her from Westminster.

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In the end 28 per cent signed it, forcing a by-election which was won by Labour’s Lisa Forbes.

Now, the Electoral Commission has revealed that the 10 per cent threshold was reached after just two days.

In a factsheet released today (Thursday), it said 11,413 of the final total of 19,261 signatures were recorded in one of 10 signing stations which were open during the six week period, while 7,848 came from postal returns (6,914 of which were returned within a fortnight).

In total, 79 per cent of all those who went to a signing place or returned a postal signing sheet did so within the first two weeks of the signing period.

It also revealed that £6,988.79 was spent on campaigning during the process.

In Peterborough, 69,673 people were eligible to sign the petition, while 62 signing papers were spoilt.

The Electoral Commission has also released a number of recommendations for how future Recall Petitions should be administered, taking into account its findings from three separate Recall Petition, including the one in Peterborough.

The recommendations for the Government are to:

. Identify the appropriate length for a reduced petition period of less than six weeks (four weeks was suggested)

. Review the scope of who can observe the process in signing places to extend transparency and scrutiny, while ensuring that secrecy is maintained for people signing the petition

. Consider whether eligible electors should be given the chance to complete an equivalent to the signing sheet to indicate that they oppose the petition

. Keep the rules for donations and spending by campaigners under review.

It was also recommended that returning officers, who run Recall Petitions, should ensure extended opening times for signing places.

Ms Onasanya was unanimously convicted of lying about who was driving her car when it was caught speeding in Thorney in July 2017.

She was sentenced to three months in prison for the crime but only served four weeks before being released on licence.

The Recall Petition was triggered after the former MP’s appeal against the conviction failed, although she has continued to maintain her innocence.

Ms Onasanya was elected as a Labour MP in June 2017 but was expelled from the party the day after her conviction.

The full Electoral Commission report can be viewed at: