‘Astonishing recklessness’: MP suspended for taking train despite knowing she had COVID-19
Written by on 1 October 2020
An MP has been suspended from her party for travelling on public transport after testing positive for coronavirus.
The SNP’s Margaret Ferrier originally travelled down to London and attended Parliament while waiting for her test result.
She said in a statement there was “no excuse for my actions” and “I apologise unreservedly for breaching COVID-19 restrictions by travelling this week when I shouldn’t have”.
Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, said he has suspended Ms Ferrier, who has agreed to refer herself to the parliamentary standards commissioner and the police.
“On Saturday afternoon, after experiencing mild symptoms, I requested a COVID-19 test which I took that day,” the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said.
“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, Ms Ferrier spoke in the coronavirus debate in the Commons, the evening she says she tested positive.
Her statement continued: “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.”
A House of Commons spokesperson said it has “closely followed public health guidance on the action to take following a confirmed case of COVID on site”.
They added : “We are also implementing a number of cleaning measures to ensure those working on the estate can maintain a clean and hygienic working environment and ensuring Parliament adheres to the government’s ‘working safely during coronavirus’ guidance.
“Our risk assessment outlines the measures we have already put in place to reduce the risk of transmission in Parliament.
“The Speakers and political leadership of both Houses are keeping the situation under constant review.”
Ms Ferrier called for Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson senior adviser, to resign after it was revealed he travelled more than 200 miles to County Durham from London at the height of lockdown.
“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,” she told the Daily Record at the time.
She added: “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.”
Labour’s shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray said her “astonishing recklessness” had “put people’s health at risk”, while MSP and former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said “she has to go”.
Train drivers’ union Aslef said: “We’ve worked day in, day out to keep our railway as safe as possible for passengers and staff. For an MP to get on a train knowing she has COVID-19 is both dangerous and disgraceful.”