SNP under fire as party & Parliament knew Margaret Ferrier tested positive but news remained secret for hours
NICOLA Sturgeon and the SNP are today under fire as it emerged members of the party and Parliament knew an MP tested positive for coronavirus but the news remained a secret for hours.
Margaret Ferrier is today being urged to resign after she broke isolation rules to travel from Scotland to London and back – and spread the virus around Westminster.
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Mounting pressure is growing on who knew about the ordeal, when they found out, and why it took so long for the news to become public.
She could have spread the virus on Monday and Tuesday to members of the public on public transport, or to colleagues and staff in the House of Commons – but the days of delay means they could have gone on to infect even more people.
The MP – who is now independent after having the whip removed – revealed the stunning news in a dramatic statement on Thursday evening, but was only suspended after a furious backlash.
Westminster leader Ian Blackford claimed he only found out on Thursday morning.
However, the MP went home on Tuesday morning, meaning a delay of hours before action was taken among the party and Parliament.
It was claimed that the SNP whips were told she went home because a family member was ill, not herself.
In her statement she said she “deeply regretted” her actions and took “full responsibility”.
But questions are also mounting about when the Speaker and Parliamentary authorities found out and when they took action.
Police Scotland said the MP informed them of her behaviour on Thursday and officers are “looking into the circumstances” along with the Metropolitan Police.
What we know so far:
- Margaret Ferrier felt unwell and had a coronavirus test on Saturday
- Before receiving her results she took a train on Monday to attend Parliament, where she spoke in the House of Commons at 7pm
- On Monday evening she got her positive test result
- She then travelled home by train on Tuesday morning and is now self-isolating at home
- She has had the SNP whip suspended over the ordeal and now faces calls to resign from her fellow MPs
- This morning Nicola Sturgeon demanded she quit as an MP after her “dangerous and indefensible” actions
- One person who was isolating after close contact with the MP has tested negative
An SNP spokeswoman insisted the party did not know until Thursday that Ms Ferrier had taken a test prior to travelling to London.
“Ms Ferrier informed the SNP on Wednesday, when she was in Glasgow, that she had tested positive,” she said.
“The SNP’s chief whip immediately informed Parliament authorities.
“The SNP only became aware on Thursday that Ms Ferrier had been tested prior to travelling to London and had travelled back to Glasgow, knowing that she had a positive result.”
She faces fines under new English laws, which came in this week, where people face £4,000 if they “knowingly” infect others in a reckless way.
And she could face a fine for breaking isolation rules too – which start at £1,000.
Several of her own colleagues have called on her to resign.
David Linden told Question Time last night: “I don’t think her position is tenable and she should resign.”
Ian Blackford has said she should “do the right thing”.
Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North, said she agreed with Mr Linden that she “must resign”.
She said: “Margaret’s actions cannot be overlooked”.
MP for Aberdeen South Stephen Flynn said he was “beyond livid” and that it was “impossible to disagree” with calls for her to quit.
“The public will expect nothing less,” Mr Flynn added.
In May, Ms Ferrier called for Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings to resign after he was accused of breaking lockdown to see family 260 miles from his home.
Mr Cummings travelled 30 miles to Barnard Castle from Durham, which he said was to test his eyesight.
At the time, Ms Ferrier said: “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.”
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