Fiona Onasanya, pictured arriving at the Old Bailey this morning. She will be leaving in a prison van this afternoon after she was handed a three-month sentence
Disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya has been jailed for three months for repeatedly lying to police to dodge a speeding ticket.
The 35-year-old, who has been kicked out of the Labour Party, faced fresh calls to quit today – but unless she agrees to do so will continue to represent her constituents and draw her £77,000 taxpayer-funded salary while she sits in prison.
The Peterborough MP became the first sitting female MP to be jailed after lying to investigators when her car was caught doing 41mph in a 30mph zone in July 2017.
The judge told her: ‘It is not one law for those in a position of responsibility and power and another for those that are not.’
Parliamentary rules dictate that only MPs jailed for 12 months or more are automatically forced to step down, meaning Onasanya could technically stay in her job while serving time.
However, a recall petition will now be launched in her constituency, which can force a by-election if signed by 10% of constituents, around 7,000 people in Onasanya’s case.
That process however could be delayed until after Onasanya’s planned appeals are heard, which could take many weeks.
Onasanya’s Nissan Micra was caught doing 41mph in a 30mph zone, an offence which would usually attract a fine. However, her attempts to evade justice have landed her in prison
Her brother Festus (left) also arrived at court for sentencing after colluding with his sister Fiona Onasnya (right). He was jailed for 10 months
She has refused to apologise since she was convicted at the Old Bailey last year and – in an extraordinary outburst – likened herself to Jesus and Moses.
Jailing her today, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said he had taken into account that the MP suffers from multiple sclerosis and her career was over.
‘It is a tragedy that you find yourselves and here in this predicament, but it is a tragedy that you have bought upon yourselves,’ he added.
‘You have not simply let yourself down, you have let down those who look to you for inspiration, your party, your profession and Parliament.’
He lawyer, Christine Agnew QC, told the court: ‘She will inevitably be struck off as a solicitor. Her life as a politician and as a solicitor have effectively come to an end.
‘The point that has cried out from this case from the outset – why on earth put everything at stake for the sake of, at most, three penalty points and a fine?’
Onasanya plotted to dodge penalty points with the help of her brother Festus, who admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for 10 months.
An appeal will add to the public bill for the case, which has already involved court costs of £500,000.
Onasanya had previously indicated she intends to stay in the House of Commons
What are the rules on jailed MPs?
Under the Representation of the People Act, any MP jailed in the UK or Ireland for more than a year is disqualified from membership of the House of Commons.
Their seat will automatically be vacated and a by-election will be held to elect a replacement.
The rule was brought in after IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands was elected as MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone while imprisoned.
However, under laws introduced in 2015, any prison term, even a suspended sentence, leads to a recall petition, which can force a by-election if signed by 10% of constituents.
Delays to this process while an appeal is heard could mean that, in Onasanya’s case, she continues to be paid to be as an MP while sitting in the prison cell.
The guilty verdict against the MP was delivered in a retrial after a previous case ended in a hung jury.
Onasanya notified the Court of Appeal of her plans to appeal against her conviction on New Year’s Eve. It is not clear what grounds she will use.
The court was previously told that she was sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) to fill out, but it was sent back naming the guilty driver as Aleks Antipow, an acquaintance of her brother Festus, who was away visiting his parents in Russia.
Festus pleaded guilty to three counts of perverting the course of justice over speeding, including over the July 24 incident.
In the wake of the guilty verdict, Onasanya was expelled from the Labour Party and has launched an appeal against her conviction
Onasanya had previously indicated she intends to stay in the House of Commons, writing in her column in the Peterborough Telegraph that constituents should ‘rest assured’ that she would remain their representative fighting injustice in the corridors of power.
The 35-year-old solicitor took the marginal Peterborough seat with a majority of just 607 from Tory Stewart Jackson at the 2017 election just 18 months ago.
The trained solicitor will be unable to practise law upon her release.
Labour and Conservatives both demand she stand down as an MP
The two main political parties today demanded Fiona Onasanya do the honourable thing and quit as a MP.
A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘Fiona Onasanya has let the voters of Peterborough down.
‘When she was found guilty she should have immediately done the decent thing and resigned.
‘However today’s sentence gives Fiona one last opportunity to act honourably and resign from Parliament.
‘She should do this without delay and not take another penny in salary from the public purse.’
Onasanya was expelled from Labour after her conviction and the party vowed to support a recall petition and ‘fight any by-election vigorously’.
A Conservative Party spokesman said: ‘Labour’s Fiona Onasanya has let Peterborough down. She cannot possibly represent her constituents from prison and should do the decent thing and immediately step down.
‘If she doesn’t, we will campaign to use a recall petition to ensure that the residents of Peterborough can have their say in a by-election for a new MP.’