A piece by Kate Devlin in today’s Times:
The MP jailed for lying about a speeding offence is facing more pressure to stand down after it emerged that her sentence could be increased.
Fiona Onasanya, 35, was sentenced to three months in prison for perverting the course of justice. Her punishment has been criticised as too lenient.
The MP, who sits as the independent member for Peterborough after being expelled from the Labour Party, is refusing to quit because she wants to keep her salary of more than £77,000, a court was told this week. She is appealing against her conviction. MPs have to step down only if they are given a prison sentence of more than a year.
Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons, said that Onasanya should not continue as an MP because she could fulfil her duties from prison. She told MPs: “It is not acceptable for the residents of Peterborough that their member of parliament is unable to represent them, very physically unable to represent them.” Standing down was the “right thing to do”.
Sir Mike Penning, a former policing minister, said MPs should debate calls for a law change to automatically expel jailed MPs: “Constituents do not understand how anybody can be convicted of a crime and still be a member of this House and be in prison.”
The attorney-general’s office said Onasanya’s sentence could be increased after it received a request for her case to be considered “under the unduly lenient sentence scheme”. Law officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider it.
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