Margaret Ferrier: MP who left London while infected with Covid faces 30-day suspension

·2 min read
Margaret Ferrier was investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner  (PA Archive)
Margaret Ferrier was investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner (PA Archive)

An MP who took trains between London and Scotland while infected with Covid during the pandemic faces a by-election after a Parliament watchdog recommended she is suspended for 30-days from the House of Commons.

The Committee on Standards on Thursday said that Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier should be suspended for breaching Covid-19 rules.

Ms Ferrier, the former Scottish National party politician who now sits as an independent, visited a beauty salon and a gift shop in her constituency in September 2020 while awaiting coronavirus test results.

On Monday, September 28, she travelled by train to London, took part in a Commons debate and ate in the Members’ Tearoom in Parliament.

The same evening she received a text telling her the test was positive for the virus. Instead of isolating, she travelled back to Scotland by train the following morning, against strict public health rules in place at the time.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Daniel Greenberg said Ms Ferrier had breached code of conduct for MPs “by placing her own personal interest of not wishing to self-isolate immediately or in London over the public interest of avoiding possible risk of harm to health and life”.

She also breached the code because “her actions commencing from when she first took a Covid-19 test to when she finally begins self-isolation have caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, and of its Members generally”.

The Commons Standards Committee recommended she should face a 30 day suspension, which MPs will be asked to approve. Because the suspension is more than 10 days, she could face a recall petition and a by-election in her constituency.

Last year at a hearing at Glasgow sheriff court Ms Ferrier was ordered to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work by a court for breaching Covid rules.

She avoided a fine and potential prison sentence for recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death”.