Ex-Labour MP Jared O'Mara found guilty of six counts of fraudulent expenses claims

During the trial at Leeds Crown Court, it was revealed that Jared O'Mara, who represented Sheffield Hallam from 2017 to 2019, owed a drug dealer thousands of pounds.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which oversees MPs' business expenses and pay, received false invoices from him.

At trial, O'Mara was convicted of six counts of fraud and cleared of two. The court heard that O'Mara, 41, made four claims to IPSA for services he claimed to have received from a "fictitious" organization called Confident About Autism South Yorkshire for a total of £19,400.

The former politician, according to the prosecution, used the city's McDonald's restaurant's postcode as the company's business address. He was also found guilty of attempting to claim £4,650 for services that he claimed to have received from Gareth Arnold, his "chief of staff."

The jury was informed that IPSA rejected all invoices due to a lack of information regarding the performed work.

O'Mara was elected to Parliament for Labour in June 2017, unseating former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. However, the following year, he left the party and became an independent after the party suspended him for remarks he had posted online prior to becoming an MP.

Co-defendant Arnold, 30, was found not guilty of three other charges of fraud and guilty of three fraud related to the fictitious autism organization.

O'Mara, who attended the 12-day trial remotely, was informed that he needed to be present for the sentencing after the verdicts were announced. He was told by Judge Tom Bayliss KC: "I've permitted you until now to attend via videolink, I'm afraid that indulgence has now ceased." During the trial, O'Mara and Arnold read out text messages and WhatsApp messages, including references to drug use and abandoning a expenses claim that IPSA had rejected four times. A message read to the court read, "I think any more pushing will raise alarms."

Meanwhile, Arnold sent a friend a message in April 2019 claiming that O'Mara was "a few k in debt with a dealer", to which the friend replied: "That's a very dangerous game that. He wants to be careful no bad lads come for him. He's on 80k a year." Arnold wrote in a message in June 2019 that he had "just smashed loads of coke" with a "local MP." Another message from Arnold to O'Mara said the then-MP had been intoxicated before appearing on BBC Look North, with the court told he had drunk a litre of vodka before the TV interview.

Arnold, the only one of the three defendants who chose to testify during the trial, said that O'Mara had used "five grams a day" at one point, along with a "bottle of vodka" and "60 cigarettes," and that his former employer's cocaine use in Sheffield was an "open secret."