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19 December 2018

Peterborough Labour MP Fiona Onasanya found guilty of perverting the course of justice

Although Onasanya has been found guilty and suspended from the Labour Party, she may end up remaining an MP.

By Stephen Bush

Fiona Onasanya, the Labour MP for Peterborough, has been found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The former lawyer, who was first elected in 2017, was found to have misled police in order to avoid speeding charges.

The Labour Party has suspended her and called for her resignation, but the opposition has no formal power to remove a sitting MP, so it is not clear that the verdict will trigger a by-election in Onasanya’s Peterborough seat, a tightly-fought marginal that Onasanya won by only 638 votes.

An MP is automatically kicked out of the Commons only if they are sentenced to more than 12 months in prison. Onasanya’s crime carries a minimum tariff of three months and a maximum of 38. Chris Huhne, who was convicted for a similar offence, submitted a guilty plea and was sentenced to eight months but voluntarily resigned his seat.

If Onasanya chooses to resign or receives a jail term of more than a year, it would open up a finely balanced contest in a marginal seat that voted heavily to leave the European Union in the immediate run-up to Brexit.

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