Peterborough MP loses conviction appeal
5 March 2019, 12:17 | Updated: 5 March 2019, 16:08
Disgraced Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya has lost a challenge against her conviction for perverting the course of justice.
The 35 year-old solicitor was expelled from the Labour Party after being found guilty in December last year.
She was jailed for three months at the Old Bailey in January and was released from prison after serving one month behind bars.
Representing herself at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Onasanya told the court:
"The charge against me was perverting the course of justice.
I said from the outset, and I still maintain my innocence, that I did not do that."
But she was refused permission for a full appeal by three leading judges.
Jurors at the Old Bailey were told that she colluded with her brother Festus after her car was clocked speeding at 41mph in a 30mph zone in Thorney, in July 2017.
She was sent a notice of intended prosecution to fill out, but it was sent back naming the guilty driver as Aleks Antipow, an acquaintance of her brother, who was away visiting his parents in Russia.
Festus Onasanya, 34, from Cambridge, was jailed for 10 months after he admitted three counts of perverting the course of justice over speeding, including the July 24 incident.
Rejecting Onasanya's appeal bid, Sir Brian Leveson said:
"In conclusion, this applicant was tried fairly by a jury, who rejected her evidence on oath.
There was no error of law in the approach of the judge, whose directions... were clear and accurate, nor was there any other irregularity with the trial.
It is a tragedy that she has damaged, probably irreparably, a promising political career, but there is absolutely no basis for challenging her conviction."
A Labour spokesman said:
"Labour has consistently called on Fiona Onasanya to stand down as an MP ever since she was found guilty last December.
Her refusal to do so continues to let the voters of Peterborough down. She must now do the decent thing and go.
If she refuses to stand down, Labour will actively support local residents in their efforts to trigger a by-election through a recall petition."
Labour is already campaigning for candidate Lisa Forbes in the seat.
Onasanya made no comment as she left the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.
She briefly entered a pub opposite the court, before leaving in a black cab.
A Conservative Party spokesman said:
"Labour's Fiona Onasanya has let Peterborough down. She has refused to do the right thing and step down and continued to receive her taxpayer-funded salary while in prison.
Now a recall petition is being triggered, the people of Peterborough have the opportunity to demand a new MP through a by-election.
Labour are ignoring the democratic vote of Peterborough and are doing all they can to frustrate Brexit for political purposes. The people of Peterborough deserve a Conservative MP who will respect their views."
A representative for Commons Speaker John Bercow said:
"As soon as the court has formally informed Mr Speaker of its decision, the procedures require him to write to the petitions officer in the constituency concerned under the provision of the Recall of MPs Act 2015.
Once the letter has been sent, Fiona Onasanya is subject to the recall petition process and it will be for that officer to make the arrangements for the petition."
Commons Speaker John Bercow made an announcement to MPs in the chamber, saying:
"I have received a letter this afternoon from the Registrar of Criminal Appeals informing me that Fiona Onasanya's application for leave to appeal against her conviction has been refused.
This now triggers the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act 2015 and I will accordingly be writing to the relevant petition officer to inform that person that Fiona Onasanya is therefore subject to a recall petition process.
It will be for that officer to make the arrangements for the petition."