A Nigerian-born British Member of Parliament, Fiona Onasanya, has been sentenced to three months in prison for lying in order to avoid a speeding ticket, The Guardian UK reports.
The MP for Peterborough and a former Labour whip, was sentenced on Tuesday for perverting the course of justice following her trial.
The court heard in evidence that the former solicitor was texting and speeding on the evening of July 24, 2017, while driving at 41mph in a 30mph zone.
The Guardian UK reports that the lawmaker appeared at the Old Bailey in London alongside her brother, Festus Onasanya, who pleaded guilty to three similar charges and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.
The prosecution alleged that she went on to connive with Festus to avoid a speeding ticket.
The court also heard that she was sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution to fill out, but it was sent back, naming the driver as Aleks Antipow, an acquaintance of Festus, who was away visiting his parents in Russia.
Following the guilty verdict before Christmas, Onasanya was expelled from the Labour Party but she has launched an appeal against her conviction.
Delivering the judgement, the judge, Mr. Justice Stuart-Smith said, “It’s a tragedy that you have found yourselves here and in this predicament, but it’s a tragedy that you have brought on yourselves.”
The judge added that Onasanya’s decision to remain as an MP was beyond the powers of the court.
“As things stand, it is not right to say that you have lost everything. You have decided to remain as a member of parliament despite your expulsion. It is well beyond the remit of this court to speculate on what the future holds for you as Member of Parliament for Peterborough,” he said.
Referring to the fact she has multiple sclerosis, Stuart-Smith said her health and her previous good character had been taken into account during sentencing.
“I also take into account your illness though there is no medical evidence to suggest that your unfortunate condition would make a significant difference to your ability to sustain a period of imprisonment,” he said.
He said he had to give her a custodial sentence on the basis that she had taken a series of “disastrous” decisions from November 2017 until her trial that were designed to pervert the course of justice.
“There cannot be one law for those in positions of power, privilege and responsibility and another for those who are not,” he said.
Christine Agnew QC, counsel for Onasanya, said the case had had a disastrous impact upon her client’s life.
“She continues to stand as an independent MP and her only reason for that is because it is her only source of income,” she said.
Onasanya is the first serving MP to be jailed in 28 years and she was believed to be planning to return to work as an MP once she leaves prison.
She will continue to be paid while in prison, parliamentary sources confirmed.
But Labour and the Conservatives have called for her to “do the decent thing” and resign immediately.
Under the laws introduced in 2015, any prison term, even a suspended sentence, leads to a recall petition, which will be open for six weeks and can force a by-election if signed by 10% of voters in a constituency.