MP accused of dodging speeding charge says she had relapse of multiple sclerosis

The Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya is accuse of perverting the course of justice.

The Peterborough Labour MP Fiona Onasanya who is accused of plotting to avoid a speeding prosecution has told her trial that her fresh "leap" into national politics landed her with thousands of emails and working from a corridor.

Fiona Onasanya, 35, allegedly schemed with her brother to claim a Russian man was behind the wheel of her Nissan Micra when it was clocked doing 41mph in a 30mph zone in the village of Thorney in her constituency.

  • Click to watch a report from the Old Bailey by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson

The trained solicitor, who had been elected in Peterborough just over a month before the incident in July last year, gave evidence at the Old Baileyas she fights a charge of perverting the course of justice.

The MP went on to tell jurors that she suffered a relapse of multiple sclerosis in September last year.

She said: "I probably was not in the best head space. I've just been told Ihad got an incurable degenerative disease."

Fiona Onasanya with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The churchgoer and former county councillor discussed her hectic rise through politics, joining a select committee four weeks after the general election.

"It was massive. It was more a leap than a step. I didn't have an expectationbecause I did not have any idea what it would be like," said Ms Onasanya.

"It was a little but like being asked if you can swim and you say 'Yes, I canget by, I can swim', and then you get thrown in the ocean, it's notcomparable."

She said that being whisked through the Westminster security process was "a bit like a freshers' fair" as she was given a laptop and iPad.

Asked how long it was before she had an office, she said: "I cannot remember the exact day because they had one committee room where everyone could be hot-desking or you could sit in a corridor."

Fiona Onasanya revealed in court that she had suffered a relapse of multiple sclerosis.

Asked how busy her correspondence was in June 2017, she said: "As a new MP, when you get your laptop, iPad and security pass, they also tell you they have opened an email account for your Parliamentary email address."

The court heard that in July last year she had about 5,000 unanswered emails in her inbox.

It is alleged that Ms Onasanya's car was caught by a speed camera on The Causeway, near the Cambridgeshire village of Thorney, at 10.03pm on 24 July 2018.

A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was returned, naming the driver of her car as Aleks Antipow. But jurors were told that Mr Antipow was at home with his parents in Russia at the time.

He previously lived in Chesterton, Cambridge, at a house rented by Onasanya and her brother Festus, the court heard.

It was also claimed that the contact address and phone number given were linked to Onasanya's 33-year-old sibling.

Festus Onasanya, of Chesterton, had previously deployed the same tactic, jurors heard, and he pleaded guilty to three charges of perverting the course of justice. One of those counts related to the July 24 incident.

It is alleged that Ms Onasanya's car was caught by a speed camera near the Cambridgeshire village of Thorney on 24 July 2018.

Prosecutor David Jeremy QC previously accused the MP of "lying persistently and deliberately" in a co-ordinated scheme with her brother to avoid prosecution.

The court also heard that in February 2018, Fiona Onasanya had correctly filled out an NIP for triggering another camera a month earlier.

She kept a clean licence and avoided points by going on a speed awareness course.

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

Fiona Onasanya, from Peterborough, is on bail while the trial continues. She denies perverting the course of justice.