News, Culture & Society

SNP’s Margaret Ferrier refuses to quit after flouting Covid self-isolation rules

The SNP MP who flouted coronavirus self-isolation rules by travelling hundreds of miles across Britain is resisting calls to quit.

Margaret Ferrier also visited a gym, shops and a beauty salon on the day she became ill and has faced a barrage of criticism since being diagnosed with the virus.

The Color Toner Experts

The 60-year-old posted images on her social media showing her out and about in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West on Saturday – the day she was tested for Covid-19. 

Scotland Yard confirmed it was looking into Ms Ferrier’s admission on Thursday that she travelled 400 miles from Glasgow to London and then back again while suffering with Covid-19 this week. 

She travelled by train to London from Scotland last Monday while awaiting the results of a Covid test taken on Saturday, and then travelled back the following day after being told the test was positive. 

Images on her Twitter page showed her in several public places likely to have been busy on a Saturday, including the Vanilla Salon and South Lanarkshire Eastfield Lifestyle leisure centre in Rutherglen, and Sweet P gift shop in Burnside. 

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle lashed out at her astonishing actions as she faced calls from her own party leader to quit the Commons. 

Nicola Sturgeon used a series of expletives and her ‘head was in her hands’ on being told that her ‘friend and colleague’ had broken the law, sources told the Times.

However, Ms Ferrier is resisting calls to quit and may seek to stay in the Commons as an independent, having referred herself to the parliamentary standards watchdog having been stripped of the party whip. 

Margaret Ferrier posted images on her social media showing her out and about in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West on Saturday – the day she was tested for Covid-19

Images on her Twitter page showed her in several public places likely to have been busy on a Saturday, including the Vanilla Salon and South Lanarkshire Eastfield Lifestyle leisure centre in Rutherglen (pictured)

Images on her Twitter page showed her in several public places likely to have been busy on a Saturday, including the Vanilla Salon and South Lanarkshire Eastfield Lifestyle leisure centre in Rutherglen (pictured)

 Speaker Sir Lindsay told Sky News he learned the 60-year-old had coronavirus while in the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons at around 4pm on Wednesday. 

He said: ‘Obviously this is completely reckless behaviour for a Member of Parliament – to put staff and fellow MPs at risk is not acceptable.’

He added: ‘What made it worse was only being told on Wednesday on something that people knew about on Monday – well the MP themselves knew about it on Monday.’

He said the reaction was immediate and ‘within 20 minutes we were in full swing on what we needed to do to ensure the safety and security of staff and members’. 

He also voiced anger than some in the SNP knew of the situation long before he was informed.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed tonight that it was investigating the journeys along with British Transport Police over potential breaches of the Health Protection Regulations 2020. 

Ms Ferrier could face a £4,000 fine for a first-time offence of ‘recklessly’ coming into contact with others when she should have been self-isolating under a law that came into force on the day of her positive test.   

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Margaret Ferrier to ‘do the right thing’ as she faced universal condemnation for her ‘utterly indefensible’ behaviour . 

Ms Sturgeon said she had made it ‘crystal clear’ to Ms Ferrier that she must resign. ‘I’ve spoken to Margaret Ferrier and made clear my view that she should step down as an MP,’ she said. 

‘I did so with a heavy heart – she is a friend & colleague – but her actions were dangerous & indefensible. I have no power to force an MP to resign but I hope she will do the right thing.’  

Astonishingly, the 60-year-old received a positive result on Monday night and still appeared in the Commons chamber (pictured), speaking in a debate on coronavirus and its impact on the economy and jobs

Astonishingly, the 60-year-old received a positive result on Monday night and still appeared in the Commons chamber (pictured), speaking in a debate on coronavirus and its impact on the economy and jobs

Nicola Sturgeon urged Margaret Ferrier to 'do the right thing' as she faced universal condemnation for her 'utterly indefensible' behaviour

Nicola Sturgeon urged Margaret Ferrier to ‘do the right thing’ as she faced universal condemnation for her ‘utterly indefensible’ behaviour

Margaret Ferrier’s statement in full

‘I apologise unreservedly for breaching Covid-19 restrictions by travelling this week when I shouldn’t have. There is no excuse for my actions.

‘On Saturday afternoon, after experiencing mild symptoms, I requested a Covid-19 test which I took that day. Feeling much better, I then travelled to London by train on Monday to attend Parliament as planned. This was wrong, and I am very sorry for my mistake.

‘On Monday evening I received a positive test result for Covid-19. I travelled home by train on Tuesday morning without seeking advice. This was also wrong and I am sorry. I have been self-isolating at home ever since.

‘I have used Test and Protect and I have notified the House of Commons authorities who have spoken with Public Health England. I have also notified the police of my actions.

‘Despite feeling well, I should have self-isolated while waiting for my test result, and I deeply regret my actions. I take full responsibility and I would urge everyone not to make the same mistakes that I have, and do all they can to help limit the spread of Covid-19.’

DUP MP Jim Shannon revealed this afternoon that he dined with Ms Ferrier at Parliament on Monday night and was told to self-isolate, but had since tested negative. 

Earlier, the SNP’s Westminster chief Ian Blackford, who has already stripped her of the whip, said this morning that she must ‘reflect on her position’. ‘I think it is obvious what she needs to do,’ he told BBC Breakfast.  

The Commons said one person who had come into contact with Ms Ferrier had been told to self-isolate, with investigations into who else might be at risk set to continue. Extra cleaning precautions have also been taken – although the damage might already have been done. 

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said she took a test on Saturday afternoon after experiencing ‘mild symptoms’, meaning she should have self-isolated, before travelling by train to London on Monday having felt better.

Labour suggested the party covered up knowledge of Margaret Ferrier’s actions after it emerged they knew of her diagnosis a day before she disclosed it on Thursday evening. 

She spoke in the coronavirus debate in the House of Commons on Monday and, by her account, tested positive for Covid-19 that evening. She did not make clear whether she received the result before or after she spoke.

In a statement, she said she travelled home to Glasgow on Tuesday, where she has been self-isolating ever since.

‘Despite feeling well, I should have self-isolated while waiting for my test result, and I deeply regret my actions,’ she said.

Ms Sturgeon was repeatedly grilled on the situation at her daily briefing this afternoon. 

But she swiped back by comparing her response to that of Boris Johnson when his chief aide Dominic Cummings was accused of breaching rules. 

‘Trust me, it’s one of the easiest things in the world in politics to call for tough consequences when one of your opponents breaks the rules, that’s not hard for any of us,’ she said.

‘The litmus test, though, is whether you’re prepared to do the same when it’s one of your own breaking the rules.

Speaker’s fury at delay in alerting him to MP’s coronavirus status

The Commons Speaker today vented fury at the delay in informing him about Margaret Ferrier’s ‘reckless’ actions.

Sir Lindsay told Sky News he only learned Ms Ferrier had coronavirus while in the Chair at around 4pm on Wednesday.

He said the reaction was immediate and ‘within 20 minutes we were in full swing on what we needed to do to ensure the safety and security of staff and members’.

He said: ‘Obviously this is completely reckless behaviour for a Member of Parliament – to put staff and fellow MPs at risk is not acceptable.’

He added: ‘What made it worse was only being told on Wednesday on something that people knew about on Monday – well the MP themselves knew about it on Monday.’

‘And in these abnormal times when everybody has been asked to do difficult things, I think that is more important than ever.

‘That’s why the SNP whip has been withdrawn from Margaret, and that is the most serious sanction a party can impose on an elected representative.

‘I’ve also spoken to her directly and made crystal clear to her that I think she should now resign as an MP.’

The DUP issued a statement saying that Strangford MP Jim Shannon was seated at the same dining table as Ms Ferrier on Monday night. 

‘The room seating arrangements included proper social distancing measures,’ the party said.

‘On Wednesday evening, the Speaker’s Office alerted Mr Shannon that he had been identified as a close contact of an individual who had tested positive for Covid-19.

‘Upon receiving this news, Mr Shannon immediately self-isolated and on Thursday afternoon he received a negative Covid-19 test result.

‘Mr Shannon sought and at all times has followed the advice of Public Health England and the House of Commons’ Covid-19 team in dealing with every element of this incident.

‘As a precaution, Mr Shannon is self-isolating at home.’ 

The SNP gained the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat from Labour in the 2019 general election, when Ms Ferrier won with a majority of 5,230.

But her colleagues turned on her overnight after it emerged she had flouted the rules. 

David Linden, the SNP MP for the Glasgow East constituency neighbouring Ms Ferrier’s, has called for her to go.

He told BBC Question Time her behaviour is ‘utterly inexcusable’, adding: ‘I don’t think her position is tenable and she should resign.’

The DUP issued a statement saying that Strangford MP Jim Shannon was seated at the same dining table as Ms Ferrier on Monday night, but has since tested negative for Covid

The DUP issued a statement saying that Strangford MP Jim Shannon was seated at the same dining table as Ms Ferrier on Monday night, but has since tested negative for Covid

The actions of Ms Ferrier are all the more astonishing because earlier this year she was outspoken in criticising the Government for defending No10 advisor Dominic Cummings when he was accused of breaching lockdown

The actions of Ms Ferrier are all the more astonishing because earlier this year she was outspoken in criticising the Government for defending No10 advisor Dominic Cummings when he was accused of breaching lockdown

Margaret Ferrier

With Nicola Sturgeon

Margaret Ferrier said she was ‘very sorry’ for travelling from her Rutherglen seat to attend the Commons.

Margaret Ferrier: Comeback MP who won her old seat off Labour in 2019 – only to be suspended less than a year later for Covid-19 train journey 

Margaret Ferrier, 60, is MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, in central Scotland.

As an SNP candidate, she won the seat in 2015 in the party’s landslide on the back of the 2014 Independence referendum.

She was almost instantly made a party spokesperson on Scotland and was elected to the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee. 

However she was narrowly beaten by Labour in the 2017 General Election.

But in last year’s poll she retook the seat. Until tonight, she was the SNP’s spokesperson on manufacturing.

Ms Ferrier was born in Glasgow but lived in Spain for several years when she was a child.

In an interview with the Daily Record, she said she had been a member of Scottish Labour in her youth. 

This has since been echoed by Kirsty Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, and Stephen Flynn, SNP MP for Aberdeen South.

Ms Blackman said that while Ms Ferrier is an ‘unparalleled’ campaigner for the party, she must resign.

‘Margaret’s actions cannot be overlooked,’ she added in a tweet.

Mr Flynn retweeted Ms Blackman’s post, writing: ‘Impossible to disagree. The public will expect nothing less.’

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who resigned from Boris Johnson’s Government over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown movements, said ‘the public deserve clear answers’.

‘We now know that the SNP were informed on Wednesday that Margaret Ferrier had been tested, after she had already travelled back to Scotland from London by public transport while infected with the virus,’ he said.

‘These actions not only broke the law, they will have put lives at risk.

‘We must hear from Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford about exactly when they knew and why they kept this information secret from the public for hours or maybe even days.’

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray also demanded answers from First Minister Ms Sturgeon and Mr Blackford.

The Labour MP tweeted: ‘SNP in chaos & appear to be covering up serious breach of public health laws.

‘FM & Blackford must hold press conference tomorrow am to answer questions about what they did & didn’t know.’

An SNP spokeswoman insisted the party did not know until Thursday that Ms Ferrier had taken a test prior to travelling to London.

‘Ms Ferrier informed the SNP on Wednesday, when she was in Glasgow, that she had tested positive,’ she said.

‘The SNP’s chief whip immediately informed Parliament authorities. The SNP only became aware on Thursday that Ms Ferrier had been tested prior to travelling to London and had travelled back to Glasgow, knowing that she had a positive result.’

On Monday, Ms Ferrier gave a four-minute speech in the Commons from 7.15pm and focused on the ‘economic health’ of her constituents, calling for greater financial support.

A Police Scotland spokesman said officers are liaising with colleagues in the Metropolitan Police.

‘Margaret Ferrier MP contacted Police Scotland earlier today about travelling between London and Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus,’ he said.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.