Margaret Ferrier admits putting public at risk with train trip during pandemic - what happened and who MP is
The Rutherglen MP broke Covid-19 rules after travelling on a train between Scotland and London while being infected with the virus
Margaret Ferrier was found to have broken Covid rules after travelling from Glasgow to London and back while infected with the virus. (Credit: PA)
Margaret Ferrier has been ordered to complete a 270-hour community payback order after she “wilfully ignored” Covid rules and travelled by train from London to Scotland after testing positive for the virus.
She was told the sentence was a direct alternative to custody and that she will need to carry out the unpaid work within nine months.
The former SNP MP has admitted to putting public health at risk after travelling while infected with Covid-19 amid restrictions in 2020.
The politician sparked outrage after her actions were revealed, with Ms Ferrier admitting in court that she has put those around her at risk.
Ferrier, 62, last month admitted culpably and recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death” as a result of her behaviour.
What happened to Margaret Ferrier?
Ms Ferrier travelled from Glasgow to London in September 2020, shortly after she had taken a Covid-19 PCR test.
The MP took the test on 26 September after she began displaying symptoms.
The following day, she addressed a congregation of 45 people at St Mungo’s Church in Glasgow, before visiting Vic’s bar in Prestwick, South Ayrshire.
After these appearances, Ms Ferrier boarded a train from Glasgow to London.
Despite Covid restrictions at the time instructing the public to stay at home if they were experiencing any symptoms or were awaiting test results, Ms Ferrier chose to travel before receiving the results of her PCR test.
Upon arriving in London, she appeared in the House of Common and visited other places in London while infected with the virus.
Shortly after arriving in the capital, Ms Ferrier was notified that she had returned a positive test result, with the court hearing that Test and Protect had attempted to call her three times beginning at 10am before she returned their call at 2pm that day.
Ms Ferrier returned to her hotel upon learning the result before departing from London Euston on a train bound for Glasgow the next day.
Is she still an SNP MP?
No she had the party whip removed so she is now an independent.
She had been elected as the SNP MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West in 2019, regaining the seat from Labour.
She had the party whip removed in in 2020 after the allegations against her emerged and has come under pressure to resign her seat in the House of Commons.
At the time, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on her to “do the right thing” and resign, describing Ferrier’s actions as “dangerous and indefensible”.
What did Margaret Ferrier say in court?
Ms Ferrier appeared at Glasgow Sheriff court on 18 August where she faced charges of culpable and reckless conduct.
She admitted to the court that she had exposed the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death”.
Findings from Police Scotland’s investigation into the situation were also read out in court, with Dr Andrew Riley providing police advice.
The medical professional said: “On receiving the positive result, the accused should have immediately self isolated and sought public health advice on what to do next,” adding that Ferrier would have been infectious “probably for the next seven to 10 days.”
Lawyer Brian McConnachie KC said Ferrier had continued as normal following her Covid test on 26 September because she was sure it would be negative, as she felt better the next day.
He told the court: “The brevity of her symptoms she had experienced led her to the situation that she was convinced that the result of her test would be negative and then, demonstrating for her a remarkable lack of thought and a remarkable lack of consideration for others, she then went about her normal business.”
He said that Ferrier wore a mask on the train to London and wore a mask and observed social distancing as situations required at the time.
However, he said the MP experienced “uncontrolled panic “ when her test result came back positive while in London and returned to Glasgow as soon as possible to isolate.
He said that Ferrier, a divorced mother of one, feels remorse for her actions and is someone of good character who has made a significant contribution to her community through her work as an MP.
What was said during sentencing?
Imposing the order when she returned to Glasgow Sheriff Court for sentencing on Tuesday, Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull told the MP: “The public rightly expect the people elected to represent them to set an example.
“You wilfully ignored the rules and did not isolate. Having tested positive you wilfully disregarded guidance and travelled by train.”
He continued: “It cannot be overlooked that your behaviour took place at a time of significant restrictions and before the vaccination programme had begun.”