NEWS
21/11/2018 16:45 GMT | Updated 22/11/2018 12:03 GMT

Brother Of Fiona Onasanya Is 'A Dishonest Chancer’, Labour MP's Lawyer Tells Court

Onasanya is accused of colluding with her sibling to avoid prosecution for speeding.

PA Wire/PA Images
Fiona Onasanya outside the Old Bailey last week 

The brother of Labour MP Fiona Onasanya, who is on trial over a speeding ticket, is a “chancer” who will “manipulate anyone to get out of a hole”, a court has heard.

Onasanya, the 35-year-old MP for Peterborough, is accused of colluding with her brother Festus to avoid prosecution for driving at 41mph in a 30mph zone on July 24 last year.

A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was sent back to authorities claiming a Russian man was behind the wheel, but inquiries revealed he was in Russia with his parents at the time.

Festus Onasanya, 33, from Cambridge, has admitted three charges of perverting the course of justice, including over the 24 July incident.

His sister, who was elected to Parliament in June last year, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice.

Onasanya has told jurors she had assumed she was in Westminster at the time of the speeding offence and left the NIP at her mother’s house in Cambridge, for whoever had borrowed her Nissan Micra to fill in.

Festus later reassured her the NIP had been “sorted”, the court heard.

The MP said she could not recall a meeting with her former communications manager in Thorney, near Peterborough on the evening the speed camera was triggered nearby.

She could not rule out being the driver, even though evidence showed she was using her mobile phone in the area at the time, but told the court she never used her phone while driving.

In a closing speech, her lawyer Christine Agnew QC heaped blame onto Festus, describing him as a “charming chancer”.

When they went together to be interviewed by police, he was “banking” on her status as a solicitor and MP to get him “out of the hole”, jurors were told.

Agnew said: “He is a chancer and he is a dishonest chancer. He is somebody who will manipulate anyone to get out of a hole. If he was driving that is exactly the motivation that would be required to fill that form out wrong.”

She suggested Festus filled in the form as he had done it before and “he thought he could get away with it”.

He already had nine points on his licence and risked disqualification, and his job as a delivery driver, she said.

Agnew said Onasanya was not a woman who “lies, lies and lies again” as the prosecution claim.

She added: “What’s she guilty of? She’s guilty of not completing the NIP properly. She’s guilty of not asking her brother as many questions as she should have done.

“You cannot choose your family, ladies and gentlemen. That’s a trite comment but she had no reason to suspect him and she had no reason to disbelieve him.

“Why would she put everything at risk for three penalty points.”

Earlier, Opposition chief whip Nick Brown spoke up for Onasanya, describing her as honest and trustworthy.

In a character witness statement read out in court, the MP said his colleague was “a decent, outgoing character” who was committed to her work in her constituency and as a Parliamentarian.

He said: “She is a person of strong personal beliefs rooted in her religious faith.

“I judge her to be honest, trustworthy and reliable.”