Former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier avoids jail sentence as she receives community payback order for Covid trips

An MP who “wilfully ignored” Covid rules and travelled by train from London to Scotland after testing positive for the virus has avoided jail after being ordered to complete a 270-hour community payback order.

Margaret Ferrier was told the sentence was a direct alternative to custody and she would need to carry out the unpaid work within nine months.

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.

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Thousands queue overnight in Edinburgh to pay respects to Queen
Margaret Ferrier has resisted calls to quit as an MP. Picture: PA

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.”

Ferrier 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”.

The sentencing outcome means if Ferrier does not choose to resign as a MP, the only other means she can removed is through a recall petition after being suspended from the Commons for at least ten sitting days.

The court previously heard the MP travelled in and around Glasgow and to London in September 2020 after taking a test for the virus.

While awaiting the results, she also spoke in the Houses of Parliament and visited elsewhere in London.

A court heard she then took the train home to Glasgow after being told she had tested positive for Covid-19.

During the hearing last month, the court heard Ferrier, of Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, did a test for Covid-19 on September 26 after showing symptoms, including a cough.

The next day she read to a congregation of about 45 people at a mass in St Mungo’s Church, Glasgow, before heading to Vic’s bar in Main Street, Prestwick, South Ayrshire.

She then travelled to London by train on September 28 and spoke in the Commons later that day.

A short time after, she found out she had tested positive for the virus.

Ferrier then returned to her hotel, where she spent the night, before heading back to London Euston and taking the train home to Glasgow, knowing she had Covid-19.

Sheriff Turnbull told Ms Ferrier that according to an expert who gave their opinion for the Crown, there was “significant risk of harm arising from your behaviour because the clear public health advice to self isolate was not followed”.

Lawyer Brian McConnachie KC said Ferrier had continued as normal following her Covid test on September 26 because she was sure it would be negative, as she felt better the next day.He said Ferrier, a divorced mother of one, feels remorse for her actions.

Ferrier, wearing a face mask, left court without commenting.

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