MP’s former aide ‘morally obliged’ to give evidence against her in trial

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The former aide of an MP accused of plotting with her brother to avoid a speeding ticket said he felt “morally and legally” obliged to give evidence against her.

Dr Christian DeFeo, who managed campaigns and communications for Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya, said he was compelled to contact police after spotting a news report of her trial at the Old Bailey.

Dr DeFeo said he discussed with his wife Caroline Earle whether or not to give evidence against the 35-year-old, but decided he had a moral duty to contact police on Tuesday this week, the day Onasanya’s trial began.

Fiona Onasanya
Onasanya denies one count of perverting the course of justice (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“It is with the greatest reluctance I have to do this.

“To do otherwise, I cannot. It’s morally and legally unacceptable not to.”

Onasanya is accused of plotting with her brother Festus Onasanya to claim that a Russian man was behind the wheel of her Nissan Micra when it was clocked doing 41mph in a 30mph zone on The Causeway near Thornley in Cambridgeshire.

The incident happened near where Dr DeFeo lived at the time, on July 24 2017, a week after Onasanya was elected MP.

Onasanya, from Peterborough, denies one count of perverting the course of justice.

Her brother has pleaded guilty to three charges of perverting the course of justice, including to one related to the July 24 incident.

Festus Onasanya
Festus Onasanya (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Asked by prosecutor David Jeremy QC whether he “had it in” for Onasanya as a result of the dispute, Dr DeFeo said he did not, and added: “From day one I wanted her to succeed.

“I wanted her to be a great MP and I said on a number of occasions that I wanted her to be an MP as long as she wanted to be.

“It’s a terrible thing to have to do this.”

The court was told about an email exchange between Onasanya and Dr DeFeo, arranging to meet on July 24 last year.

Asked what time she was there, the witness said: “I cannot say a specific time, however she arrived late and was there quite late because we offered her a bed to stay the night.

“She arrived in her car. She arrived alone. She pulled up her car in front of our house. I greeted her at the door.”

Dr DeFeo said Onasanya, his wife and himself spent no less than two hours discussing the “nitty gritty” of a charity lease in his living room.

They were there together throughout apart from the occasional “loo breaks” and his wife going into the kitchen to prepare a “hot lemon squash”.

Dr DeFeo said Onasanya had been to his home three or four times, including when he threw a “victory party” to celebrate her election, accompanied by her mother.

Ms Earle told jurors how she came to give evidence to the police.

She said: “I knew Fiona’s trial started on Monday. I was on Twitter and saw something about it from our local paper.

“I then came to realise that the speed camera is around the location of our house.

“It was then that I looked at the date. That date is ingrained in my mind because the very next day we had a very big and quite serious meeting (regarding the charity lease).”

The court heard Ms Earle and her husband exchanged messages on Facebook this week where they were trying to find a record of Onasanya’s visit to their home on July 24 last year.

Ms Earle, under cross-examination from defence counsel Christine Agnew QC, said any reference to “got her” and “bingo” in the message exchange with her husband did not indicate being “pleased” in “catching” the MP out.

Ms Earle, who repeatedly told jurors she was unwell while giving evidence, said “got her” was Dr DeFeo saying he found the email confirming the MP’s attendance, and “bingo” was an acknowledgement of that.

She said: “We’re trying to do the right thing.

“I don’t want to be here, I’d like to be anywhere but here.”

She admitted she had read tweets about the case during the lunch break on Thursday but denied she was “confused” about what time the MP arrived at her house.

The defence suggests Onasanya turned up around 5pm, rather than just after 10pm as claimed by the married witnesses. The court heard the speed camera was set off shortly after 10pm.

The trial continues.

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