Former Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara denies fraud claims

Former Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara
Jared O'Mara won the Sheffield Hallam seat from Nick Clegg in 2017 Credit: PA Images

Former Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara has denied making fraudulent invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

O'Mara, 39, who represented the constituency until 2019, appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court by videolink on Friday with former aide Gareth Arnold, 28, and another man, John Woodliff, 42, appearing in person.

He pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fraud by false representation and another charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

O'Mara, of Walker Close, Sheffield, won the Sheffield Hallam constituency for Labour from former Lib Dem leader Sir Nick Clegg in 2017, but later left the party during a series of controversies.

He stayed in office an independent MP but did not contest the 2019 general election. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is the body that regulates MPs' staffing and business costs as well as their pay and pensions.

The fraud charges faced by O'Mara involve sums totalling £28,700 alleged to have been claimed dishonestly from IPSA. Some of the counts relate to "services purported to have been provided by Gareth Arnold", and others refer to "services purported to have been provided by Confident About Autism South Yorkshire". The offences are alleged to have occurred in periods between October 2018 and February last year.

Arnold, of School Lane, Dronfield, Derbyshire, denied six counts of fraud by false representation. Woodliff, of Hesley Road, Sheffield, denied a charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

O'Mara appeared on a screen in court, sitting with a legal adviser and wearing a black V-neck top. Arnold and Woodliff stood in the glass-fronted dock in Court 1 for the five-minute hearing. Arnold wore a blue suit and an open-neck white shirt. Woodliff was in a grey shirt with a black tie and no jacket.

District Judge Paul Goldspring said the case needed to be heard by a crown court judge. He told the three defendants they will next appear at Sheffield Crown Court on October 25. They were given unconditional bail.