The independent MP Jared O’Mara has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, sources in Sheffield have said. He was arrested at the same time as his chief of staff, Gareth Arnold, the BBC reported.
Police arrested the pair a week ago and Arnold was held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud, according to the Daily Mirror.
Officers raided the MP’s constituency office, removing documents and computers for investigation on Friday last week, the newspaper reported. The two men were released on Saturday evening pending further investigation.
O’Mara, who was formerly with Labour before becoming an independent, has submitted paperwork for his resignation as an MP for Sheffield Hallam, dated for when parliament returns in September, it has previously been claimed.
In July, O’Mara said he was “taking time out for mental health treatment” and promised to resign at the end of summer recess after allegations of sexual misconduct towards staff.
Arnold quit his role in July in dramatic fashion, posting his resignation statement on O’Mara’s Twitter account, however earlier this month he claimed to be still working for the outgoing MP.
Arnold told the BBC two weeks ago that he had “extended his notice period” but admitted he had not been cleared by parliamentary authorities to work in the office, including having access to O’Mara’s official email account.
He said: “I am running a constituency office on behalf of an MP without the required security clearance from the parliamentary authorities. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”
Constituents have complained that case work has not been dealt with in the MP’s absence, allegations that have been denied.
Mr O’Mara won his seat in the 2017 election as a Labour MP, beating former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
He was suspended by Labour in October 2017, after a string of historic online comments came to light which were accused of sexism and homophobia.
He later apologised saying: “I was in a bad place back then, and after being bullied and called many of those abusive slurs myself, I repeated them as a way of deflecting from my own low self-esteem and depression. But this is not an excuse and I take full responsibility for the unacceptable language I used.”
He was reinstated by Labour in July 2018, but resigned from the party nine days later to sit as an independent MP.
The same month, Mr O’Mara announced he would step back from his parliamentary duties for a period on the advice of his GP.
Asked for a comment, South Yorkshire police said they could neither confirm or deny the identity of someone who has been arrested.
O’Mara has been approached for a comment. Staff at a nearby pub, where Mr O’Mara’s office staff were regular visitors, said they hadn’t been seen in several weeks.