Labour MP compares herself to Jesus after penalty points conviction

Fiona Onasanya, convicted of lying to police, sends message to MPs asking for prayers

A Labour MP found guilty of lying to the police to avoid a speeding ticket has sent a message to parliamentary colleagues likening her predicament to those of biblical figures, including Jesus, and asking them to pray for her.

Fiona Onasanya was suspended and urged to quit her Peterborough seat by the Labour party after her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

The solicitor lied “persistently and deliberately” to officers about who was driving her car in an attempt to avoid penalty points, after the vehicle was recorded at 41mph in a 30mph zone near Thorney, Cambridgeshire.

A message sent to other Labour MPs on WhatsApp said her conviction “was not his end but rather the beginning of the next chapter” of her story, as it was with Jesus.

It is not clear whether this means she plans to stay on as an MP if she receives a sentence of less than a year.

Parliamentary authorities, local Labour activists and staff from her two offices are waiting to hear about her plans for the future. In similar circumstances, MPs such as Chris Huhne have resigned from their seats.

In the message on Thursday morning, first reported by the Times, Onasanya wrote that she maintained her innocence.

“I campaigned for justice and for the interests of ordinary people throughout my entire working life to date,” she said.

“Regardless of what you believe or suspect, the fact remains that I, Fiona, sought to be the choice and voice of change – but this may now take a different path. More than ever before, I am asking that you commit time in prayer for my family.

“In times like these, the natural inclination of believers is to ask God: why? I personally do not, because in my experience the answers are usually far above and beyond my reach. What I do know is that I am in good biblical company, along with Joseph, Moses, Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, who were each found guilty by the courts of their day.

“While God did not save them from a guilty verdict, he did save them in it and ensured that their greatest days of impact were on the other side of a guilty verdict. Of course this is equally true of Christ, who was accused and convicted by the courts of his day and yet this was not his end but rather the beginning of the next chapter in his story.”

Labour suspended Onasanya from the party whip several months ago and has in effect called for a byelection in the seat, which she narrowly won from the Conservative candidate last year by 607 votes.

She was accused of colluding with her brother Festus, who a week before the original trial admitted perverting the course of justice to avoid speeding prosecutions on three occasions, including this incident. They both face possible jail terms when they are sentenced at the Old Bailey, which is expected to happen next month.

MPs are automatically disqualified from holding their seat if they are sentenced to more than a year in jail. Any prison term, even a suspended one, can trigger a recall petition. This can force a byelection if signed by 10% of voters in a constituency.

Onasanya was contacted for comment.


Rajeev Syal

The GuardianTramp

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