Jailed UK Lawmaker Loses Appeal After Representing Herself at Hearing

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A member of the UK Parliament who was jailed for perverting the course of justice has had her appeal against the conviction overturned, and now faces a recall petition in her constituency.

Fiona Onasanya, who turned the comparatively minor offence of a 2017 speeding ticket into a career-destroying scandal by pretending it had been the Russian former-flatmate of her brother at the wheel instead was convicted of perverting the course of justice in December.

At the time of sentencing, Onasanya became Britain’s first ever sitting female member of parliament to be jailed.

The representative for Peterborough, who had been a Labour MP before being expelled from the party was convicted in December and since appealed her three-month jail sentence.

Before becoming a member of parliament Onasanya was a solicitor, and on that basis decided to represent herself in court Tuesday. The plan did not work out, however as Court News UK reports the lawyer “turned up to court without any paperwork” and the appeal was dismissed as being “baseless and misconceived”.

The failure of the petition means locals in Onasanya’s constituency can now petition the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow to trigger a byelection to replace her. Although recalling MPs is extremely difficult under British law, there is a provision to do so under the Recall of MPs Act 2015 to do so if a member receives a prison sentence.

Now Onasanya’s appeal has failed, the petition to trigger a new local election for her seat can go ahead.

At the time of her original conviction in 2018, Onasanya was accused to working with her brother to avoid the potentially politically embarrassing speeding fine by blaming her car driving 11mph over a 30mph limit on a former lodger, who was not in the country at the time. Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith told Onasanya: “You have not simply let yourself down, you have let down those who look to you for inspiration, your party, your profession and Parliament.”

Defending, Christine Agnew, QC, told the court of Onasanya: “She is a reliable and committed MP. Through every step of her life she has sought to do good.

“Her sentence will have a disastrous impact on her life and career. She had already been expelled from the Labour Party and has continued to act as an independent MP because it is her only source of income.

“She will likely lose her seat in Parliament. It is not just a fall from grace. It is a public fall from grace. She will inevitably be struck off as a solicitor.

“Not only does she have to deal with the end of her career but her debilitating illness.”

Her brother, Festus Onasanya, who had a pre-existing criminal record including a conviction for robbery prior to the plot received a longer 10-month sentence.

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