Ex-MP jailed for submitting fraudulent expense claims
A former MP has been jailed for submitting a series of fraudulent expense claims.
Jared O’Mara, 41, who represented Sheffield Hallam between 2017 and 2019, was today sentenced to four years' imprisonment after being convicted of six charges of fraud at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday, 8 February.
Co-defendant Gareth Arnold, 30, who was found guilty of three counts of fraud, was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years.
During the trial, the CPS showed the jury evidence that O’Mara invented an autism charity and falsely billed for work said to have been carried out.
In 2019, the former MP submitted a series of dishonest claims to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) – the organisation that regulates the staffing and business costs of MPs.
Four claims, totalling £19,400, came from the fictitious organisation Confident About Autism South Yorkshire.
None of the claims were ever paid to O’Mara by IPSA.
Arnold, who was said to be working as O’Mara’s chief of staff, also assisted the ex-MP with false claims during June 2019.
The offending came to light when Arnold went to police in summer 2019 and revealed that fake invoices had been submitted.
Another co-defendant, John Woodliff, was cleared of one offence of fraud by the jury.
O'Mara was acquitted of two further offences of fraud while Arnold was cleared of three further charges on Wednesday.
Nick Price, head of Special Crime and Counter Terrorism at the CPS, said: “These claims for taxpayers’ money were blatantly false and O'Mara and Arnold knew that full well.
“O’Mara invented a fictional autism charity and then proceeded to submit fake invoices, hoping they would slip through as legitimate claims.
“Arnold assisted O’Mara in the deception, submitting a number of bogus claims, and was happy to go along with the fraud before eventually coming clean to the police.
“While serving as a member of parliament, O’Mara viewed taxpayers’ money as a source of income that was his to claim and use as he wished.
"His actions fell a long way short of the conduct expected of MPs, and quite frankly, taxpayers have the right to expect better.”
Three key pieces of evidence that persuaded the jury:
- Analysis of mobile phone records revealed references to money making schemes, bending the rules, demanding monies from IPSA, deleting records, and abandoning claims for payment that might ring alarm bells.
- Financial investigations discovered that O’Mara was living beyond his means and in dire need of money.
- No trace was ever found of the existence of Confident About Autism South Yorkshire or any similar organisation.
Notes to editors
- Jared O’Mara, [15/11/81] is of Sheffield, South Yorkshire
- Gareth Arnold, [28/09/92] is of Dronfield, Derbyshire
- Jared O'Mara was found guilty of six charges of fraud (counts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) and not guilty of two (counts 2 and 3).
- Gareth Arnold was found guilty of three charges of fraud (counts 1, 4 and 5) and not guilty of three (counts 2, 3, and 6).
- John Woodliff was acquitted of one charge of fraud (count 8).
- Jared O'Mara was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for each count to be served concurrently.
- Gareth Arnold was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment concurrent for each count, suspended for two years.