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by Kirsteen Paterson
22 May 2023
Covid rule breach MP Margaret Ferrier loses suspension appeal

Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier

Covid rule breach MP Margaret Ferrier loses suspension appeal

Margaret Ferrier MP has lost her appeal against suspension from the House of Commons for breaking Covid travel rules.

The decision by parliament's Independent Expert Panel means a by-election in her seat of Rutherglen and Hamilton West looms closer.

The politician lost the SNP whip and now sits as an independent after taking a trail from London to Scotland following a positive Covid test in 2020.

She had gone to London while awaiting the results of that test.

Last year she was sentenced to 270 hours community service at Glasgow Sheriff Court after admitting a charge of culpable and reckless conduct.

In March, the Commons' Standards Committee recommended that she face 30 days' suspension.

Ferrier argued that the sanction was unreasonable or disproportionate, that credible fresh evidence had become available showing that her medical condition had led her to panic and make poor decisions. 

However, her appeal has now been rejected.

The panel said: "She acted with blatant and deliberate dishonest intent. She acted with a high degree of recklessness to the public and to colleagues and staff at the House of Commons. The acted selfishly, putting her own interests above the public interest."

Suspension for Ferrier would be subject to a parliamentary vote. If MPs agree, it will automatically trigger a recall petition, which could see her lose her position as Member of Parliament and result in a local byelection.

There is intense interest in whether a byelection will result, with Scottish Labour and the SNP already campaigning in the area.

SNP leader Humza Yousaf has called on the MP to resign.

Commenting on the latest development, Labour's Jackie Baillie said her party's candidate Michael Shanks offers constituents "the representation and the clean start that they deserve".

The SNP said: "There must now be a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, which the SNP has been calling for since Ms Ferrier's Covid rule breach first came to light in 2020."

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