Prosecutors have said the former MP tried to fraudulently claim up to £30,000 in taxpayer money to fund an “extensive cocaine habit”.
Jared O’Meara, 41, who represented the constituency of Sheffield Hallam from 2017 to 2019, is on trial for submitting “dishonest” invoices to the independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).
Jurors at Leeds Crown Court heard he made four claims to Ipsa between June and August 2019 from a “fictitious” organization called Confident About Autism SY, and media and PR work from his “chief of staff” Gareth Arnold Two invoices were presented for what prosecutors say were never done.
O’Meara was apparently unable to cope with his office, was in poor mental health and was highly addicted to cocaine which he was abusing in large quantities
O’Mara, who appeared in court by videolink on Monday, is also accused of submitting a false contract of employment for his friend John Woodliffe, “pretending” that Woodliffe worked for him as a constituency support officer. did.
O’Mara has been charged with eight counts of fraud by false representation, Arnold has been charged with six offenses jointly, and Woodliffe has been charged with one count jointly.
Prosecutor James Bourne-Arton said Ipsa – the organization set up after the expenses scandal to regulate the costs of MPs’ staff and business – had not paid any claims due to a lack of evidence that any work had been carried out.
“The prosecution contends that Jared O’Mara viewed Ipsa and the taxpayers’ money which he administered as a source of income which he wished to claim and use, not least his In enjoyment of the widespread cocaine habit,” Mr Bourne-Artson said.
“Arnold and Woodliffe were old friends of Jared O’Meara and sadly they were persuaded to go along with their dishonest claims.”
The court heard that Arnold, an old friend of O’Meara, went to South Yorkshire Police in the summer of 2019 after “reaching the point where he was no longer willing to take part in the fraud”.
In Arnold’s call to the police, played for jurors, he said: “It’s a bit difficult, but yesterday I spoke to the 999 service and the mental health crisis team about my employer having what I believe is a severe psychotic episode. Suffers from and has delusions of conspiracy against him.
“I also believe he has recently been submitting fake expense claims to the government.”
The alleged fraudulent invoices included £19,400 for Confident About Autism SY support and £4,650 for Arnold.
Mr. Bourne-Arton said that the confidence about autism SY was “an invention of Jared O’Mara which he hoped to slip through as a valid claim, no doubt trying to hide behind the fact that was doing that it was related to his incapacitation if ever challenged”.
He told jurors that there was no evidence that any training or consulting had been provided by Arnold, and that “legitimate employees” working for O’Mara at the time had never heard of him.
All the invoices were either rejected or not processed, with three rejections by Ipsa in June and July.
“(Ipsa) staff noted that invoices, particularly relating to confidences about autism, are in different formats, have inconsistent references, and in one case were dated to a date after the submission for payment was made, Mr. Bourne-Arton said.
Jurors were told that at the time Ipsa was raising concerns with O’Meara about the claims, South Yorkshire Police were alerted to the alleged fraud when Arnold telephoned them on 2 July 2019.
Mr Bourne-Artson said: “(Arnold) undoubtedly described a sad situation in which O’Mara was clearly unable to cope with his office, was in poor mental health and highly addicted to cocaine which he was prodigious was misusing the form.
The court heard that the financial investigation revealed that O’Mara was “living at or beyond her means and in dire need of cash”.
The prosecutor said: “It appears that he was funding a significant cocaine habit, which both Gareth Arnold and John Woodliffe were clearly aware of.”
The three defendants were arrested following an investigation and Woodliffe, who had been a nightclub doorman when O’Mara was a nightclub manager, told jurors “I knew it was dodgy” upon arrest.
The court heard that O’Meara had emailed Ipsa in February 2020 falsely claiming that the police investigation had been completed without any action, and that he had agreed to pay two invoices relating to services provided by Arnold. Was entitled
O’Meara won Sheffield Hallam for Labor in 2017 from former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Nick Clegg, but later left the party following a number of controversies.
He remained in office as an independent MP, but did not contest the 2019 general election.
O’Meara of Sheffield; Arnold of Dronfield, Derbyshire; and Woodliffe of Shirgreen, Sheffield, deny all allegations. Testing continues.
(tagsto translate) Jared O’Mara