Scottish MP Pleads Guilty to Breaching COVID-19 Regulations While Awaiting Test Result

Margaret Ferrier under pressure from Nicola Sturgeon to resign
By Chris Summers
Chris Summers
Chris Summers
Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in crime, policing and the law.
August 18, 2022 Updated: August 18, 2022

Margaret Ferrier, who was elected as an SNP MP in December 2019, has pleaded guilty to breaching COVID-19 rules by travelling on a train between London and Scotland in September 2020 despite being told to self-isolate.

Ferrier, 61, was due to go on trial this week but she admitted “culpably and recklessly exposing the public” to the risk of “infection, illness, and death” at a brief hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday.

She was first elected as MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West in 2015 but lost the seat to Labour’s Ged Killen in 2017, only to win it back two years later. She has a majority of 5,230.

Under Pressure From Nicola Sturgeon to Resign

Ferrier had the SNP whip removed when the allegations first emerged in 2020 and has been under pressure from Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to resign.

Epoch Times Photo
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a press conference to launch a second independence paper at Bute House in Edinburgh on July 14, 2022. (Andrew Milligan – Pool/Getty Images)

But Ferrier—who will be sentenced next month—is currently sitting as an independent and could remain until the next general election.

Last month a court hearing heard that Ferrier began experiencing symptoms, including a “tickly throat,” and took a COVID-19 test on Sept. 26, 2020.

Despite being told to self-isolate because of COVID-19, she went to a leisure centre, a church, a number of shops, and a bar in Rutherglen and Glasgow on that day and the following day, before travelling by train to London on Sept. 28 and visiting the Houses of Parliament.

She did not tell NHS Test and Protect officials about her symptoms and that she was awaiting a test result when she entered Parliament and spoke in a debate on the COVID-19 response.

Ferrier learned later that day she had tested positive for the virus but she travelled back to Scotland on the train from London and then took a taxi from Glasgow station to her home in Cambuslang.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, described her actions as “reckless,” and The Scotsman newspaper called her a hypocrite because she had earlier criticised Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings after he was accused of breaching the restrictions by travelling to Barnard Castle in County Durham.

Her trial, which was due to take place last month, was delayed because an expert virologist was busy working on the monkeypox outbreak.

Ferrier has not commented since pleading guilty, but in October 2020 she wrote on her Twitter page: “I apologise unreservedly for breaching COVID-19 restrictions by travelling this week when I shouldn’t have. There is no excuse for my actions.”

In June this year Natalie McGarry, a former SNP MP, was jailed for embezzling £25,000 ($30,350) from the party and the Women For Independence pressure group.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in crime, policing and the law.