A Labour Councillor and friend of the late Jo Cox has been sentenced to an immediate jail term following her participation in a “prolonged and sustained attempt” to manipulate the outcome of a case of speeding.
Batley East Labour Councillor Fazila Loonat’s partner Afshin Amini was caught by a speed camera driving her Mercedes car at 39mph on Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury in July 2020.
The road had a 30mph limit, but when Loonat received a notice of intended prosecution at their home in Church Walk, Staincliffe, the paperwork was returned to the authorities naming a “fictitious” driver with a bogus date of birth who was said to live at an address in Dewsbury.
The incident mimics a similar case involving a Labour politician, with disgraced Peterborough Labour MP Fiona Onasanya being sent behind bars in 2019 after being caught lying that a Russian had been driving her car at the time that she was caught breaking the speed limit. Onasanya became the first MP to wear an electronic tag in Parliament, and was subsequently given the boot by her constituents via a recall petition.
Bradford Crown Court heard today that police checks failed to find any trace of the alleged driver named by Cllr Loonat, and when the address was checked it was found to be shop premises owned by his partner.
Prosecutor Nadim Bashir said a further “warning letter” was sent to Loonat asking her to reconsider her nomination, but she again filled in and signed the form with the same bogus details.
Mr Bashir said a formal investigation was launched by the police into the allegation of perverting the course of justice and he submitted that the couple were involved in a carefully planned and determined attempt to avoid the speeding fine and penalty points.
The court heard that following the speeding incident Loonat posted an advert on eBay offering the Mercedes for sale, but the prosecution alleged that that was done to support the claim that the car had been taken out on “test drive” when it triggered the speed camera.
Remarkably, police officers gave the couple yet another opportunity to tell the truth and change the name of the driver on the forms – yet the pair chose to stand by their fictitious story.
Loonat eventually pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and today was jailed for 14 weeks, with her partner Amini sentenced to 12 weeks.