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MP Who Breached Covid Rules Could Face 30-Day Suspension

Parliamentary portrait of Maragret Ferrier (Alamy)

2 min read

Parliament's committee on standards has recommended a 30-day suspension for MP Margaret Ferrier who travelled across the country by train with Covid during the tightest lockdown restrictions in 2020.

MPs voting in favour of the committee's recommendation could lead to a parliamentary by-election.

Ferrier, who represents Rutherglen and Hamilton West, travelled from London to Glasgow via train after she tested positive for Covid in September 2020. She had earlier travelled from her constituency to Westminster – also by train – after presenting with symptoms, but before she received her positive test.  

She had the SNP whip suspended when the incidents first came to light in October 2020, and has since sat as an independent in the Commons, resisting pressure to resign. 

The Committee on Standards has now concluded that Ferrier’s “failure” constituted a “series of deliberate actions over several days” and “demonstrated, in particular, a lack of honesty, one of the Seven Principles of Public Life”. 

“The Committee therefore recommends that Ms Ferrier is suspended from the service of the House for 30 days,” they added. 

The Commons will need to vote on the committee’s recommendations, and under parliamentary rules, any suspension of more than 10 days can trigger a recall petition, meaning that if 10 per cent of constituents in that seat ask for one, there will be a by-election. 

The committee was split on which sanction should be recommended. 

Four MPs on the committee instead suggested that Ferrier should face a nine-day suspension, below the 10-day threshold that could trigger a recall. 

These were Conservatives Alberto Costa, Sir Bernard Jenkin and Sir Charles Walker, and SNP MP Allan Dorans.

The other eight members, including lay members, voted down the nine-day suggestion. 

It comes as the privileges committee is considering whether former prime minister Boris Johnson misled Parliament over partygate, and whether any sanction should be recommended as a result. 

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