MP who used train knowing she had Covid given community service
Ex-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier who broke Covid rules by taking train from London to Scotland while knowing she had coronavirus is sentenced to 270 hours of community service
- The MP, 62, travelled from Glasgow to Westminster and back again with Covid
- She travelled to the House of Commons while waiting for the results of test Ferrier then made return journey after being informed she had tested positive
- The Judge ordered her to undertake 270 hours of unpaid community service
Scottish MP Margaret Ferrier, who admitted to travelling on a train from London to Scotland knowing she had Covid-19, has been ordered to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work.
Ferrier avoided a fine and potentially jail for culpably and recklessly exposing the public ‘to the risk of infection, illness and death’.
The MP travelled in and around Glasgow and to London in September 2020 after taking a test for coronavirus.
While awaiting the results, the now independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West spoke in the Houses of Parliament and visited places in London. At the time she represented the SNP.
Ferrier could have faced a possible jail-term as she returned to the dock today.
Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull told Ferrier that he had decided against imposing a prison sentence.
He instead ordered her to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work within a nine-month period. The term was cut from 300 hours due to her guilty plea.
Ex-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier recieved 270 community service after pleading guilty to breaching Covid rules by travelling on a train between Scotland and London after being told to self-isolate in September 2020
SNP MP Margaret Ferrier at Glasgow Sheriff Court last month where she pled guilty to breaking Covid regulation, by travelling from London to Glasgow by train while she had the disease
Sheriff Turnbull told Ferrier: ‘The public rightly expect the people elected to represent them to set an example.
‘You wilfully disregarded the guidance and did not self-isolate after your test.
‘Your behaviour was deliberate and extended over a number of days.
A timeline: Ferrier visits church, bar, taxi, M&S, two railway stations twice, the House of Commons, London hotel after Covid test
MP Margaret Ferrier has been given 270 of unpaid work to complete after pleading guilty to breaching Covid rules by travelling on a train between Scotland and London after being told to self-isolate.
September 26, 2020: Ferrier books a Covid test online in the later afternoon.
She states in her application that she is ‘symptomatic’ with a ‘cough’ she experienced that day and later attends a test centre.
But then she fails to self-isolate while awaiting the result of the test.
Instead, Ferrier attends a midday mass at St Mungo’s parish church, where she gives a reading to a congregation of 45 people.
Ferrier then attended Vic’s Bar in Prestwick, where she stays for two-and-a-half hours.
September 27: Still awaiting the result of her Covid test, Ferrier takes a 10-to-15-minute taxi journey from her home in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, to Glasgow Central station.
She enters a Marks and Spencer at the station before boarding a train with 183 people on board to London Euston.
Upon her arrival, Ferrier checked into the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge, before attending the Houses of Parliament at 7.15pm.
She speaks in the chamber of the Commons, where social distancing is in operation.
Ferrier also sits at a usually allocated for SNP members with DUP MP Jim Shannon where they converse for 20 minutes.
Ferrier then receives a text and email informer her that she has tested positive.
She then attends the SNP whips’ office and speaks to then chief whip Patrick Grady MP.
She tells him she will return to Scotland the following morning.
Ferrier returns to her hotel at 9.20pm, where she spends the night.
September 28: Ferrier heads to London Euston to begin her return journey to Scotland.
Knowing she is Covid positive, she shares a train with 153 other passengers.
Contract tracers for NHS Test and Protect attempt to contact Ferrier on four occasions, but are unable to do so and instead leave two voicemails.
Ferrier later contacts Test and Protect and discloses that she had a ‘slight and infrequent cough’ the day before her test.
She says she did not believe that she would be positive.
Ferrier contacts police and informs them of her breach before sending out a statement on her social media.
January 4, 2021: Ferrier hands herself in to police and is arrested
August 18, 2022: Ferrier admits ‘wilfully exposing people ‘to the risk of infection, illness and death’ at Glasgow Sheriff Court
September 13, 2022: A judge orders Ferrier to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work
‘The gravity of harm that could have resulted from your actions could have been significant.’
Ferrier – wearing a face-mask in court – went on to confirm to the sheriff that she would agree to the terms of the community payback order.
The former SNP MP, 62, made the journey from from Glasgow to Westminster and back again while suffering with Covid between September 27 and 29, 2020.
Ferrier booked a Covid test online on September 26 2020, the then nationalist politician stated she was ‘symptomatic’ with a cough.
She then failed to isolate properly until recieveing her results in a ‘reckless disregard of public safety.’
Ferrier attended a midday mass at St Mungo’s parish church in Glasgow the next day where she gave a reading to the congregation of 45 people.
Social distancing measures were in place and Ferrier wore a mask when she was not speaking.
Ferrier then attended Vic’s Bar in Prestwick, Ayrshire where she stayed for two-and-a-half hours.
Ferrier took a 10-to-15-minute taxi journey from her home in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, to Glasgow Central station the next day while wearing a face mask.
The politician entered a Marks and Spencer at the station before boarding a train with 183 people on board to London Euston.
Ferrier checked into the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge, before attending the Houses of Parliament at 7.15pm.
Mr Allan said: ‘She spoke in the chamber of the of the commons where social distancing was in operation and apart from when speaking, she wore a face mask.’
She travelled to the House of Commons while waiting for the results of a coronavirus test – and then made the return journey after being informed she had the virus.
In a previous hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court Ms Ferrier, an independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, admitted wilfully exposing people ‘to the risk of infection, illness and death’ by visiting various places in the Glasgow area and London having been told to self-isolate.
She stayed overnight in a London hotel before travelling back to Glasgow the following day, where she then visited other places such as a mass in the city’s St Mungo’s church and a bar in Prestwick, Ayrshire. Scotland was under strict instructions at the time.
It comes after it emerged that she claimed £175 in expenses for the overnight stay, according to data released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
In October 2020, the Metropolitan Police said it would take ‘no further action’ against the MP following an investigation.
Public health expert Dr Andrew Riley told the police that Ferrier ‘significantly increased the risk of harm to both individual and public health.’
Ferrier handed herself in to police on January 4, 2021 where she was arrested.
Her SNP whip removed when allegations emerged. She came under pressure to resign from her seat, but remains as a MP.
Her KC today/yesterday told the court that Ferrier had ‘convinced herself’ the test would be negative and that there would be no danger.
There had then been ‘uncontrolled panic’ when it came back positive.
Brian McConnachie, defending, added: ‘It was 48 hours of poor decisions in a lifetime of otherwise a complete observance and upholding of the law.’
The advocate also referred to Covid lockdown breaches in Westminster.
Mr McConnachie: ‘There have been a number of high profile cases down south having been dealt with in a different manner.
‘I recognise that, in some ways, they are different (from Ferrier).
‘On one view less serious, but, on another, more so in that there were pubic gatherings taking place for fun effectively.’
The KC said 34 testimonials had been written on Ferrier’s behalf including one from Jim Shannon.
He added Ferrier will likely lose her seat at the next election due to her being an independent.
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