Former Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara denies fraud amounting to £28,000 in court appearance

Former Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam Jared O’Mara appeared before city magistrates today charged with multiple counts of fraud by false representation.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 3:45 pm

Jared O’Mara, aged 39, of Walker Close, Grenoside, is charged with fraudulently claiming £28,700 from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Agency between June and February 2020.

He appeared in court alongside his former chief of staff, Gareth Arnold, 28, of School Lane, Dronfield, Derbyshire.

The former MP is accused of submitting seven different fraudulent invoices, including four related to the reimbursement for services provided to O’Mara by Confident About Autism South Yorkshire (CAASY). These amounted to £19,400.

Jared O'Mara, former MP for Sheffield Hallam, is charged with seven counts of fraud and one count of acquiring drugs.

The other three were for allegedly for the reimbursement for services provided by Arnold, amounting to £9,300.

Gareth Arnold, O’Mara’s former chief of staff, is charged with six of the counts of fraud by false representation O’Mara is charged with.

Arnold’s charges exclude one invoice from O’Mara’s list, which was worth £4,650 and was submitted as a claim for reimbursements for services from CAASY.

It is alleged O’Mara and Arnold intended to make ‘financial gain’ for themselves by submitting the fraudulent invoices.

Gareth Allan arrives at Sheffield magistrates Court

Also in court was another man, John Woodliff, 42, of Hesley Road, Shiregreen, who has reportedly worked as a door supervisor at West Street Live.

Woodliff and O’Mara both face charges of being ‘concerned in the acquisition, retention or use or control of criminal property’, namely a controlled drug, between October 2018 and August 2019.

Appearing in court via video link accompanied by solicitor Matthew Nash, and wearing a black T-shirt, a bearded O’Mara was asked by Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring to give his plea to all eight charges he faces.

O’Mara replied: “Yes sir, not guilty.”

Gareth Allan arrives at Sheffield magistrates Court

Both Arnold and Woodliff, appearing at court in person represented by Richard Jepson, entered not guilty pleas to all their charges.

Mr Goldspring sent all the charges to Sheffield Crown Court, where a pre-trial hearing is set to take place on October 25.

Mark Kelly QC, counsel for O’Mara, expressed concern over the choice of venue.

He said: “This is clearly a sensitive case for my client. He has been the local MP and there will be consideration as to whether Sheffield would be an appropriate venue.”

All three defendants were given unconditional bail and told they must attend Sheffield Crown Court on October 25 at 9.30am.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is the body that regulates MPs’ staffing and business costs as well as their pay and pensions.

O’Mara served as MP for Sheffield Hallam from June 2017 to November 2019, after he unseated Nick Clegg in the 2017 General Election.

He lost the Labour Whip in October, 2017, after he was discovered to have previously posted a series of outspoken comments online.

O’Mara was reinstated the following year but later resigned from the Labour party claiming his initial suspension was not fairly investigated.

He operated as an independent MP in 2019.

O’Mara chose not to stand in the 2019 General Election. Gareth Arnold briefly planned to stand for election in the seat before changing his mind.