Prosecutors say a former Labour MP sought to use public money to fuel a “extensive cocaine habit” by illegally claiming up to £30,000 in expenses.
Jared O’Mara, 41, of the Sheffield Hallam seat from 2017 to 2019, is on trial for submitting “dishonest” invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).
Jurors at Leeds Crown Court heard that between June and August 2019, he filed four claims to Ipsa from a “fictitious” organisation called Confident About Autism SY, and submitted two invoices from his “chief of staff” Gareth Arnold for media and PR work that prosecutors allege was never completed.
O’Mara, who appeared in court via videolink on Monday, is also accused of presenting a bogus employment contract for his buddy John Woodliff, “pretending” that Woodliff was a constituency support officer for him.
O’Mara faces eight charges of fraud by false representation, with Arnold accused with six of the counts and Woodliff charged with one.
He told jurors that there was no proof that Arnold provided any training or consulting, and that “legitimate staff” working for O’Mara at the time had never heard of him.
All of the bills were refused or not processed, with one being denied three times by Ipsa in June and July.
Jurors were told that while Ipsa was expressing concerns about the allegations with O’Mara, South Yorkshire Police were alerted to the alleged fraud when Arnold called them on July 2, 2019.
“(Arnold) described an undoubtedly sad state of affairs in which O’Mara was plainly unable to cope with the office he held, was in poor mental health and was heavily addicted to cocaine that he was abusing in prodigious quantities,” Bourne-Arton stated.
The court heard that in February 2020, O’Mara wrote Ipsa falsely stating that the police investigation had been concluded with no action taken and that he was entitled to be paid for the two bills pertaining to services provided by Arnold.