Former MP Barry Urban sentenced to three years in jail over fake medals, lies about qualifications – ABC News

Former MP Barry Urban sentenced to three years in jail over fake medals, lies about qualifications
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Disgraced former West Australian MP Barry Urban has been sentenced to three years in jail for an elaborate series of lies told over two decades about his university qualifications and military service that ultimately cost him his parliamentary career.
Urban, who was the Labor member for the Hills seat of Darling Range, has been in custody since his court appearance last month for forging records and lying to state parliament.
The former MP was originally charged with 21 offences and ended up pleading guilty to seven. A further 14 charges against him were discontinued.
Urban will have to serve 18 months behind bars before he can be released on parole.
Judge Carmel Barbagallo branded Urban "the real-life Pinocchio of parliament", saying over 20 years, starting with applications to the WA Police force, he had "created a fabric of lies upon lies upon lies".
"Your audacity and arrogance is extraordinary," she told the 52-year-old.
Judge Barbagallo described Urban's appearance before a state parliamentary committee in 2018 as a "sustained and gross act".
"You became upset and emotional and claimed you had post-traumatic stress disorder from wartime events that you never lived," she said.
"This was a brazen performance designed to mislead the committee."
Judge Barbagallo said Urban had told his lies to gain positions that required integrity, honesty and truthfulness, but told him he had "been revealed as the antithesis of honesty and integrity".
At the start of sentencing proceedings today, Urban’s barrister, Mark Trowell QC, told the court he was no longer representing the former politician because Urban had "withdrawn his instructions".
Urban confirmed to Judge Barbagallo before she proceeded to her sentencing remarks that he was now representing himself.
Elected to the former blue-ribbon Darling Range electorate in a surprise victory for Labor at the 2017 election, the hitherto little-known Urban was a former WA police officer who first aroused suspicion by wearing a distinctive medal on a chequered ribbon to official events.
The UK-born Urban claimed the medal had been awarded to him for his service as a peacekeeper and war crimes investigator in the Balkans, but that authorities had sent him the wrong medal so he had ordered one online and wore it instead.
As doubt continued to mount about the claims, questions were also raised about a number of qualifications he claimed to have been awarded, including a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Leeds and a Certificate of Higher Education in Policing from the University of Portsmouth. 
With Urban's predicament putting increasing pressure on Premier Mark McGowan, the MP resigned from the Labor party just eight months after being elected, becoming an independent MP.
That was far from the end of his problems, however, and when a speech to parliament that was meant to explain his actions failed to shed much further light on the situation, he was referred to the powerful procedure and privileges committee.
Its explosive report was released in May 2018, finding Urban had repeatedly lied about his past and had "committed a sustained and gross contempt of parliament, and … abused the privilege of freedom of speech."
There was no evidence of Urban ever having served in the Balkans, the committee found, and neither university Urban claimed to have received qualifications from had ever heard of him. A copy of a Leeds University degree given to the committee by Urban was a fake.
His claim to have been awarded a Diploma of Local Government, and a subsequent claim that he had completed "9 out of 10" modules of the diploma course were also exposed as lies by the committee.
His claim to have been a sergeant in the West Midlands police force was also revealed as a lie.
The forged degree qualifications were not only submitted to the ALP ahead of his preselection in Darling Range and listed on his biographical information to parliament, but had been used in his application to join the WA Police in 2005.
"Mr Urban violated his compact with those electors of Darling Range who voted for him on the basis of his service in Bosnia and his possession of tertiary educational qualifications," the committee found.
It found his "deliberately misleading statements undermine the legitimacy of the most important parliamentary privilege — freedom of speech."
"The Committee considers that the Member's discreditable and dishonourable behaviour risks bringing the Legislative Assembly into disrepute and, as a corollary, undermine its ability to discharge its important roles."
The committee found the only precedent for contempt of parliament in all of the Commonwealth was the infamous Profumo scandal that enveloped the British parliament in 1963.
It found that Urban's ongoing role as an MP was neither "appropriate nor tenable."
However, Urban resigned minutes after the report was released, before he could become the first WA MP ever expelled from parliament.
State prosecutor Benjamin Stanwix had called for an immediate jail term because of the seriousness of Urban's "incorrigible" lies in situations were honesty and integrity were essential.
But Mr Trowell had argued for a suspended jail term because he said the former MP had now lost everything, including his house, his wife and his reputation.
He revealed that Urban had been living in a van at Leighton Beach, had attempted suicide and been hospitalised for depression.
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