The recording of a call informing police of ex-MP Jared O’Mara fake expenses claims has been released. The audio reveals his own chief of staff, Gareth Arnold, telling the call handler about the dishonest invoices.
At Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday (February 8), the former Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam from 2017 to 2019 was found guilty of making fraudulent expenses claims to fund his cocaine habit while in office. He was convicted on six counts after he tried to claim £24,000 of taxpayers money.
The 41-year-old went on trial for false claims including four totalling £19,400 for a “fictitious” organisation called Confident About Autism South Yorkshire. O’Mara also issued a claim through a false contract of employment for his close friend John Woodcliff, who was found not guilty of one offence of fraud, pretending Mr Woodcliff was working as a constituency support officer for him.
He was also found guilty of fraud for emailing the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) in February 2020, falsely notifying the organisation the investigation into him had been concluded and he was entitled to be paid the two extra invoices totalling at £4,650.
These invoices, O’Mara claimed, were provided by another friend, Gareth Arnold, for media and PR work prosecutors said was never carried out - the same Gareth Arnold who blew the whistle on his boss. Arnold was found guilty of three counts of fraud relating to the bogus autism organisation and not guilty of three other fraud charges.
Gareth Arnold’s call to police over Jared O’Mara expense fraud
The 98 second audio released following the guilty verdicts for both Arnold and O’Mara reveals the 30-year-old telling a 999 call handler his boss had made fraudulent claims to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
In the 98 second clip, he said: “He has been submitting fake expense claims to the government very recently." When asked if he had any proof, he replied: “Yes, I’m his chief of staff and he is a Member of Parliament."
He goes on to say the false invoices were “to the tune of thousands of pounds". O’Mara and Arnold will be sentenced at the same court on Thursday (February 9).