Former MP found guilty of fraudulent expenses claims

A former MP who submitted fake expenses of £24,000 to fund his cocaine habit has been convicted of fraud. Jared O’Mara, who represented Sheffield Hallam from 2017 to 2019, was thousands of pounds in debt to a drug dealer, the trial at Leeds Crown Court was told.

He submitted fraudulent invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the body which regulates MPs’ business costs and pay. O’Mara was found guilty at trial of six counts of fraud and cleared of two.

The court heard O’Mara, 41, made four claims to IPSA for a total of £19,400 for services he claimed had been provided by “fictitious” organisation called Confident About Autism South Yorkshire.

Prosecutors said the former politician had used the postcode of a McDonald’s restaurant in the city as the company’s business address.

He was also found guilty of trying to claim £4,650 for services he claimed his “chief of staff” Gareth Arnold had provided to him.

O’Mara was elected to Parliament for Labour in June 2017, unseating former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but quit the party the following year and became an independent after he was suspended by the party over comments he’d posted online before becoming an MP.

Co-defendant Arnold, 30, was found guilty of three counts of fraud relating to the bogus autism organisation and not guilty of three.

John Woodliff, 46, of Hesley Road, Shiregreen, was cleared of a single charge of fraud. O’Mara, of Walker Close, Sheffield, and Arnold, of School Lane, Dronfield, Derbyshire, are due to be sentenced on Thursday.

Source: BBC

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