Ex-MP jailed over money to help fund a cocaine habit

An ex-MP who tried to claim £52,000 of taxpayers' money to help fund a cocaine habit has been jailed for four years.

Jared O'Mara sent fake invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the body which regulates MPs' business costs and pay.

He was thousands of pounds in debt to a drug dealer, his trial heard.

O'Mara, who quit the Labour party about a year after being elected as Sheffield Hallam MP, was convicted of six counts of fraud.

Gareth Arnold, who submitted invoices to IPSA on behalf of O'Mara, was given a 15-month jail term suspended for two years.

The court heard fake invoices worth £24,000 were rejected by IPSA and a false £28,000 contract of employment submitted by O'Mara meant the total value of the fraud was £52,000.

O'Mara was elected to Parliament for Labour in June 2017, unseating former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

He quit the party the following year and became an independent after he was suspended by the party over comments he had posted online before becoming an MP.

The 41-year-old stood down in 2019, the same year the fraud offences took place.

Through his barrister, O'Mara apologised to the 70,000 voters in the South Yorkshire constituency for failing to resign in October 2017, the month he was suspended by Labour.

However, Judge Tom Bayliss KC called the apology "entirely disingenuous" and said the fraud was "cynical, deliberate and dishonest".

"You must have realised early on that you were wholly unsuited to the role, but you carried on regardless, you brazened it out; drawing a salary, but doing little or no parliamentary work," he told O'Mara.

"You are not here because of that and I do not aggravate your position because of it. It is irrelevant to these proceedings. That is a matter between you and those who elected you.

"You are here because you abused your position to commit fraud and you have shown not the slightest degree of remorse in respect of that."

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