Margaret Ferrier was sentenced to a Community Payback Order with 270 hours of unpaid work for culpably and recklessly exposing the public to the risk of infection, illness and death.
In sentencing Ferrier, Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull stated that the justification for her actions was ‘unconvincing’. Ferried found it difficult to explain to the Criminal Justice Social Worker why she acted in the manner that she did.
Brian McConnachie KC defending stated, that her actions were “48 hours of poor decisions in a lifetime of otherwise complete observance and upholding of the law”.
Mr McConnachie told the court that she had convinced herself that the test would be negative and that when the test came back positive there had been ‘uncontrolled panic’. He stated: “She is 62-year-old lady, a genuine first offender, who has contributed significantly to the constituency in which she resides and to the country with her service as an MP”, and said she would “almost certainly” lose her seat at the next general election.
The court received 34 statements in support of Ms Ferrier from MPs, constituents and staff. The court also heard that Ferrier had the lowest expenses claim for any Scottish MP.
Sheriff Turnbull stated: “Your behaviour was deliberate and extended over a number of days. The gravity of harm that could have resulted from your actions could have been significant.”
He stated that the custodial threshold had clearly been passed. However, as Ms Ferrier was a first offender and because of the presumption against imposing a custodial sentence of under 12 months, he said a community payback order would be more appropriate.
He said Ferrier’s CPO would have been for 300 hours; however, it was reduced to 270 hours due to her guilty plea.