An SNP MP tonight sparked a major coronavirus alert in the heart of Westminster after admitting travelling more than 400 miles from her constituency to speak in Parliament in London while suffering from Covid-19.
Margaret Ferrier apologised for leaving her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency south of Glasgow to attend the Commons on Monday.
She knew she was experiencing symptoms of the virus and was awaiting the results of a weekend test at the time she made the long public journey.
The 60-year-old appeared in the Commons chamber that evening, delivering a four-minute speech to the Commons chamber during a general debate on Covid-19.
And astonishingly, after getting a positive test result that night, the following morning she travelled 400 miles back to her Lanarkshire seat by train, without informing anyone of her condition.
MPs from across politics condemned her behaviour as reckless and putting public health at risk.
In a statement tonight she said: ‘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.
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
The following morning she travelled 400 miles back to her Lanarkshire seat by train, without informing anyone of her condition
Margaret Ferrier said she was ‘very sorry’ for travelling from her Rutherglen seat to attend the Commons.
The actions are all the most astonishing because she was earlier this year outspoken in criticising the Government for defending No10 advisor Dominic Cummings when he was accused of breaching lockdown
‘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.’
The actions are all the most astonishing because she was earlier this year outspoken in criticising the Government for defending No10 advisor Dominic Cummings when he was accused of breaching lockdown.
In June she told the Commons: ‘Public health experts have voiced concerns that Dominic Cummings did undermine public trust in lockdown rules, going against the principle of integrity that is in the code of conduct.
‘Will the Cabinet Office conduct an investigation into potential breaches of the code of conduct by Mr Cummings, or have Ministers yet again decided that they have had enough of experts?’
Labour’s Ian Murrey said: ‘This is astonishing recklessness from an SNP MP, which has put people’s health at risk.
‘Through her irresponsible actions, she very possibly has passed on the virus to a vulnerable person, who may now have COVID-19 and be in danger. She has put passengers, rail staff, fellow MPs, Commons staff and many others at unacceptable risk.
‘To breach the rules twice is simply unforgivable, and has undermined all the sacrifices made by her constituents.
‘Nicola Sturgeon must come out and condemn her MP’s actions and tell the Scottish people what disciplinary action she will be taking. There cannot be one rule for Margaret Ferrier, another for everybody else.’
Tory MP Alicia Kearns said it was ‘unforgivable’ Ms Ferrier waited three days to tell MPs she had tested positive for the virus.
She tweeted: ‘The number of people who have been put at risk, MPs and staff in Parliament and their families, and all those on public transport, and those who everyone has since engaged with. It’s utterly shameful, and to wait three more days to tell anyone is unforgivable.’
A House of Commons spokeswoman tonight said: ‘The House’s priority is to ensure that those on the estate are safe while business is facilitated.
‘We have closely followed public health guidance on the action to take following a confirmed case of COVID on site. Parliament has a dedicated team to support the test and trace teams across the UK, acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the Estate.
‘We are also implementing a number of cleaning measures to ensure those working on the Estate can maintain a clean and hygienic working environment and ensuring Parliament adheres to the Government’s ”Working safely during coronavirus” guidance.
‘Our risk assessment outlines the measures we have already put in place to reduce the risk of transmission in Parliament. The Speakers and political leadership of both Houses are keeping the situation under constant review.’