Great Britain

SNP MP Margaret Ferrier suspended after travelling TWICE between London & Scotland on train with coronavirus

SNP MP Margaret Ferrier has been suspended today after she travelled between London and Scotland on a train twice while having Covid-19.

Ms Ferrier, 60, experienced Covid-19 symptoms on Saturday and took a test before travelling on a train from Glasgow to London on Monday.

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After speaking in the House of Commons later that day, she then received the positive test result on Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Ms Ferrier made the 400-mile train journey again to return to Scotland.

Police and the House of Commons are now investigating her actions and the Scottish National Party has suspended the whip from the MP.

Ms Ferrier spoke for four minutes in the chamber in Parliament on Monday evening during a "General debate on Covid-19".

She handed herself into cops and now faces a £4000 fine if cops deem her actions “reckless".

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the circumstances and are liaising with our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service."

The House of Commons confirmed at least one person is now self-isolating after coming into close contact with the politician.

MPs and trade unions have called for Ms Ferrier to resign.

SNP Westminster group leader Ian Blackford tweeted: "I have spoken with Margaret Ferrier this evening who fully accepts that what she did was wrong.

"Margaret will be referring herself to the parliamentary standards commissioner as well as the police. I am tonight suspending the whip from Margaret."

In an earlier statement, Ms Ferrier 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.

"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."

In May, Ms Ferrier called for Boris Johnson's adviser Dominic Cummings to resign after he was accused of breaking lockdown to see family 260 miles from his home.

Mr Cummings travelled 30 miles to Barnard Castle from Durham, which he said was to test his eyesight.

There is no excuse for my actions

Margaret Ferrier

At the time, Ms Ferrier said: "Dominic Cummings’ actions have undermined the sacrifices that we have all been making in lockdown to protect each other from coronavirus.

"His position is untenable and he must be removed from his post now.

"The fact that Boris Johnson and senior Tories have backed Dominic Cummings, in the face of widespread and understandable public anger, demonstrates a total failure of leadership at a time of national crisis.

“The public health advice is crystal clear. For the safety of others, anyone with coronavirus symptoms must self-isolate, in line with government guidance. They should not leave the house for any reason.

“Anyone who needs help during periods of self-isolation should make use of the support offered through local authorities, which is open to anyone who needs it.”

BACKLASH

Ian Murray, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary responded to Ms Ferrier's statement on her Covid-19 diagnosis saying: “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.”  

Former Scottish Labour and Co-operative MP Paul Sweeney called for Margaret Ferrier to resign.

Mr Sweeney tweeted: "An MP travelling to London by train while awaiting a Covid test result is obviously a stupid thing to do.

"To then travel back to Glasgow by train after receiving a positive result is grossly negligent.

"Ms Ferrier should heed the advice she offered to Mr Cummings, and resign."

The Aslef train drivers' union tweeted: "Rail staff have worked throughout this pandemic to make sure the network could serve the public.

"We've worked day in, day out to keep our railway as safe as possible for passengers and staff. For an MP to get on a train knowing she has Covid-19 is both dangerous and disgraceful."

Tory MP Alicia Kearns 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."

Ms Ferrier was elected as the SNP's MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West in the 2015 general election. 

She narrowly lost her seat to Labour's Gen Killen at the 2017 snap election, but won it back in the 2019 election. 

Prior to working as an MP, she worked for blue chip manufacturing construction company in Motherwell and as a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau. 

She is also the SNP Spokesperson on the Scotland Office and a Member of the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster. 

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