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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
30 March 2023
Margaret Ferrier facing Commons suspension after breaking Covid rules

Margaret Ferrier MP

Margaret Ferrier facing Commons suspension after breaking Covid rules

Margaret Ferrier should be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for breaching Covid rules, the standards committee have recommended.  

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West could face a by-election in her constituency if the ban is imposed.  

She was found to have damaged the reputation of the House of Commons and put people at risk by taking part in a debate and travelling to London by train while she was awaiting test results for Covid in September 2020. Ferrier then travelled back to Glasgow, again by train, after her test results confirmed that she was suffering from Covid.  

Ferrier pleaded guilty to breaching the Covid rules, which resulted in her losing the SNP whip, leaving her sitting in the Commons as an Independent. She was also sentenced to 270 hours of community service.  

MPs will now be asked to approve the committee’s recommended 30-day suspension. 

The parliamentary commissioner for standards said that she had breached the code of conduct for MPs “by placing her own personal interest of not wishing to self-isolate immediately or in London over the public interest of avoiding possible risk of harm to health and life”.

He also found her to have breached the code as “her actions commencing from when she first took a Covid-19 test to when she finally begins self-isolation have caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, and of its members generally.”   

The MPs on the standards committee are the same group that will adjudicate on whether Boris Johnson deliberately misled parliament over partygate.

The Tory members of the committee voted against imposing Ferrier's sanction, as did SNP MP Allan Dorans.

Labour has repeated its calls for a by-election to take place. The party could gain from this, as the party held the seat prior to 2015 and again in the 2017-19 parliament. 

Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray urged Ferrier to "do the right thing and stand down". He added: “Margaret Ferrier’s reckless actions put people at risk and rode roughshod over the rules everyone else followed. It is right that Parliament has thrown the book at her for this unacceptable behaviour."

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