Shamed ex-Labour MP Fiona Onasanya facing jail for lying to police could keep her £77,000 taxpayer-funded salary for months as she is appealing her conviction
- Fiona Onasanya, 35, was convicted of lying to the police over speeding
- She will likely remain in Parliament while she appeals her conviction
- The Peterborough MP could continue to rake in her £77,000 taxpayer salary
- She returned to Parliament on Tuesday evening to vote against May’s Brexit deal
An MP facing jail for lying to police is likely to remain in Parliament for months because she is appealing against her conviction.
Fiona Onasanya, 35, has been kicked out of the Labour Party and has faced repeated calls to quit office since a jury found her guilty of perverting the course of justice.
But the Peterborough MP has decided to challenge her criminal conviction, meaning she is likely to keep her £77,000 taxpayer-funded salary for months.
Onasanya 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.
Jeremy Corbyn with Fiona Onasanya in Peterborough during the campaign trail in 2017,
An appeal will add to the public bill for the case, which has already involved court costs of £500,000.
Onasanya, who trained as a solicitor, returned to Parliament for the first time since her conviction to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit plan on Tuesday evening.
She was found guilty of repeatedly lying to police after her car was caught doing 41mph in a 30mph zone in July 2017 – weeks after she won her seat.
Her refusal to answer questions about the incident triggered a costly investigation lasting several months.
She plotted to dodge penalty points with the help of her brother Festus, who admitted perverting the course of justice.
The 34-year-old was found to have been out of the country at the time.
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.
A single judge will consider her case and if it is rejected she can ask a panel of two or three judges to consider her arguments.
A one-time ally of Jeremy Corbyn, Onasanya is due to be sentenced for the crime at the Old Bailey in the coming weeks, potentially triggering a by-election in a marginal seat.
She could become the first MP to be sent to prison since former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Chris Huhne was jailed for a similar offence in 2013.
Fiona Onasanya speaking at Parliament, she was found guilty of repeatedly lying to police after her car was caught doing 41mph in a 30mph zone in July 2017 – weeks after she won her seat
Labour’s chairman, Ian Lavery, announced earlier this month that Onasanya had been expelled after refusing to bow to the party’s calls to quit.
This will allow a Labour candidate to stand against her if a by-election is triggered, a scenario that the party supports.
The vote, however, could prove problematic for Labour in the marginal constituency, in which Onasnaya defeated Conservative Stewart Jackson by only 607 votes.
Onasanya has refused to apologise since her conviction and has not given a public statement directly referencing the case.
She faced ridicule after the trial for sending an extraordinary message to Labour MPs via WhatsApp in which she claimed to be a ‘voice for change’.
She wrote: ‘I am in good Biblical company along with Joseph, Moses, Daniel and his three Hebrew friends who were each found guilty by the courts of their day.
‘Of course this is equally true of Christ … and yet this was not his end but rather the beginning of the next chapter in his story.’
Now sitting as an independent MP, she has continued to write her regular column in the Peterborough Telegraph, using an article last week to slate the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan.
If Onasanya is sentenced to a year or more in prison, she will automatically lose her seat, according to parliamentary rules.