Margaret Ferrier, Scottish National Party MP for Rutherglen & Hamilton West, travelled to London by train on Monday 28 September to speak in the House of Commons that afternoon. She had comments to make on the furlough scheme and how it was affecting her constituents.
However, having felt unwell on Saturday 26 September, two days earlier, she took a COVID-19 test. She felt better on Sunday, so caught the train as planned on the Monday and delivered her speech in Parliament.
That evening, the result of her COVID-19 test came through and she had tested positive.
Without seeking advice, she caught the train back to Scotland, the next day. When news broke, she issued an apology on her Twitter page, saying: “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.”
Ian Blackford MP, leader of the SNP group at Westminster, acted swiftly. “I have spoken with Margaret Ferrier this evening, who fully accepts that what she did was wrong,” he said. “Margaret will be referring herself to the parliamentary standards commissioner as well as the police.
“I am tonight suspending the whip from Margaret.”
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon stated: “This is utterly indefensible. It’s hard to express just how angry I feel on behalf of people across the country making hard sacrifices every day to help beat COVID.
“The rules apply to everyone and they’re in place to keep people safe. Ian Blackford MP is right to suspend the whip.”
On 25 May, Scotland’s Daily Record reported that Margaret Ferrier had called for the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings after he broke lockdown rules and travelled with his wife and son to Durham, despite feeling unwell with coronavirus symptoms.
She was reported to have 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.”
Those words have come back to haunt her.