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Christian MP back in court accused of perverting the course of justice

Tue 13 Nov 2018
By Press Association

A Labour MP plotted with her brother to evade a speeding prosecution by claiming a Russian man had been behind the wheel, a court has heard.

Fiona Onasanya, MP for Peterborough, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of perverting the course of justice.

At 10.03pm on July 24 last year, her Nissan Micra was allegedly caught by a speed camera doing 41mph in a 30mph zone on The Causeway in the village of Thorney, in Cambridgeshire.

 

Trained solicitor Onasanya, 35, was sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), which was sent back naming Aleks Antipow as the driver, jurors heard.

But the court was told he was at home with his parents in Russia at the time.

Prosecutor David Jeremy QC said Onasanya was connected with Mr Antipow through a property that she and her brother, Festus Onasanya, had rented in Chesterton, Cambridge.

Mr Antipow had lived at that address between August and September 2016, jurors were told.

The contact details given for Mr Antipow were not his true address and telephone number, but were connected to the defendant's brother, the court heard.

Mr Jeremy said: "The purpose in providing the name of a real person as the driver, but providing a false address and telephone number that were connected to Festus Onasanya, was that Mr Antipow, while a real person, would remain untraceable to the police, and so the true driver of Miss Onasanya's car on the 24th July 2017 would escape prosecution."

Festus Onasanya had deployed the tactic when his car was caught by a speed camera on June 17 and August 23 last year, jurors heard.

The prosecutor said: "It must, as some of us may know, be very irritating to receive that bit of paper telling us that we have triggered a speed camera and asking us to name the driver of the car.

"But while irritation is understandable, telling lies to frustrate an investigation into an offence is not.

"What Miss Onasanya did when her vehicle was trapped on the 24th July 2017, was not just to own up and tell the truth, which would have been so much better, but to adopt her brother's method of evading prosecution.

"The two of them were acting jointly in telling lies in order to prevent the prosecution of the true driver."

Last Monday, Festus Onasanya, 33, of Chesterton, Cambridge, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to perverting the course of justice in relation to the two occasions when his car triggered speed cameras, and in relation to the July 24 incident.

Mr Jeremy told jurors: "The question for you to decide in this case will be whether Festus Onasanya was acting alone when he perverted the course of justice in relation to the trapping of Miss Onasanya's car on the 24th, or whether the two of them were acting together."

Onasanya, from Peterborough, has denied one count of perverting the course of justice.

Jurors were told that the NIP form required a declaration to confirm who was driving the car when it was caught by the speed camera.

On February 3 last year, Onasanya had no difficulty correctly filling out the form after triggering another camera the month before.

That time she had avoided points on her licence by going on a speed awareness course, the court was told.

The prosecution alleged Mr Antipow had never driven Onasanya's car, but had previously lived at an address in Chesterton rented by the Onasanya siblings.

Festus Onasanya had briefly lived at the address put down on the NIP as Mr Antipow's home, it was claimed.

And the Russian's contact number turned out to be for IT Fleet Automotive, where Festus Onasanya had worked as a self-employed delivery driver, the court heard.

Miss Onasanya, who was elected last June, had broken up for the summer recess the week before the speed camera incident, the court heard.

Her expense claims show that she claimed for hotel accommodation in London the Friday before, but not again until September, jurors heard.

A police investigation allegedly found her two mobile phones were in the area of the traffic camera around the time it was activated on July 24.

Mr Jeremy said: "What sort of a coincidence would it have had to have been for her phones and car to be in the same area of that traffic camera?"

Following the receipt of the response to the defendant's NIP, the Cambridgeshire Police camera unit sent another NIP to Mr Antipow.

When it was returned to the sender, a letter was sent to Onasanya on September 14 2017, asking her for correct details.

On September 20 she replied: "I have supplied the details made known to me as well as the licence information...I have provided a completed nomination previously."

Another NIP letter was sent to Mr Antipow, but again received no response.

Mark Williams , an investigator from the Cambridgeshire Camera Ticket unit, repeatedly tried to contact Onasanya by email and post.

On November 2, Mr Williams got hold of Onasanya at her Commons office.

During the phone call, he noted that she "stands by her nomination", the court heard

On December 14, a letter asking her to get in touch with Detective Sergeant Mark Devine was hand delivered to her home.

The next day, Onasanya made arrangements to attend a voluntary interview at Bedford Police headquarters on January 2.

But when interviewed under caution, she declined to answer questions.

Mr Jeremy told jurors that Onasanya was a busy person as a newly elected MP, but in adopting her brother's methods of making a speeding prosecution disappear she had "trapped" herself in lies.

He said: "This case may have started as a case about an offence of speeding.

"It has become, as a result of the choices made by Miss Onasanya, a case about lying.

"Lying persistently and deliberately. Lying all the way to this court, maybe about lying in this court.

"Lying in a way that has had to be co-ordinated with lies told by her brother. Lying to avoid prosecution for a breach of the laws that apply, or should apply, to every single one of us, whoever you may be.

"What a shame she did not tell the truth in the beginning."

The trial, which is expected to go on for a week, was adjourned until Wednesday.

Before sending jurors away, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC told them: "I'm sure it does not need saying, but politics do not come into it. They cannot be a factor in the decision-making process at all."

Speaking to Premier shortly after becoming an MP she explained her role as a Christian in parliament.

She said: "Scripture says to go into all the world – the world isn’t just a geographic world – its spheres of influence.

“So I’m going into the world of politics.”

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