Margaret Ferrier, the MP for Hamilton and Rutherglen, has plead guilty to culpably and recklessly travelling from Scotland to London after being told to self-isolate with Covid in September 2020. Ferrier previously tendered a plea of not guilty to the charge. However, she changed her plea to guilty before the start of her trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
The court heard that on the 26th of September 2020 Ferrier booked an online test and stated that she was ‘symptomatic’ with a ‘cough’. Later that day she attended at a test centre. Whilst still awaiting the result of the test she travelled by train to London. Whilst in London Ferrier attended the House of Commons to give a speech.
Mark Allan, Prosecuting, told the court: “Ferrier subsequently failed to isolate pending the outcome of her test. The conduct amounted to a reckless disregard of public safety.”
Whilst in London Ferrier found out that she had tested positive for covid. However, she boarded a train back to Glasgow to avoid self-isolating in a hotel in London for 2 weeks. The court was told at its busiest time the train held 153 passengers. NHS Test and Protect attempted to contact Ms Ferrier on four occasions. However, they were unable to reach her and left two voicemails.
Mr Allan stated: ‘She said she did not believe that she would be positive’. Ferrier notified Mr Grady and Parliamentary Test and Trace service that was had tested positive for Covid. Ferrier’s behaviour was then reported to police”.
Ferrier put out a statement on social media in which she said: “I take full responsibility and I urge everyone not to make the same mistakes that I have and do all they can to limit the spread of Covid-19.”
The Prosecutor read out statements from medical experts. One statement was read from Dr Andrew Riley who told Police: “On receiving the positive result, the accused should have immediately self-isolated and sought public health advice on what to do next,”. He said that she ‘significantly increased the risk of harm to both individual and public health’.
Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull deferred sentence for the preparation of a Criminal Justice Social Work Report. Brian McConnachie QC, defending Ms Ferrier reserved his mitigation for the deferred sentence.