A piece in today’s Times:
Margaret Ferrier, the MP who travelled between Glasgow and London after testing positive for coronavirus, has been charged with culpable and reckless conduct.
Officers in Glasgow arrested Ms Ferrier, 60, last night, months after her case was referred to prosecutors. A report had been made in November to the procurator fiscal’s office, which investigated before deciding to prosecute.
Ms Ferrier disclosed in early October that she had taken a test on a Saturday before travelling to Westminster that Monday while awaiting the results.
During a debate on the virus she thanked NHS staff and other key workers then learnt of her positive result that night. She returned to her constituency by train on the Tuesday morning. She was suspended by the SNP and has since represented Rutherglen & Hamilton West as an independent.
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We can confirm that officers today arrested and charged a 60-year-old woman in connection with alleged culpable and reckless conduct. This follows a thorough investigation by Police Scotland into an alleged breach of coronavirus regulations between 26 and 29 September 2020. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal and we are unable to comment further.”
Culpable and reckless conduct carries various maximum sentences depending on which court it is prosecuted in, ranging from up to 60 days in a Justice of the Peace court to a year in a sheriff court or a life sentence if a case is prosecuted in the High Court.
Ms Ferrier has resisted calls to resign as an MP from senior SNP figures, including Nicola Sturgeon. She said that she had been “hung out to dry” by the party after agreeing to a scripted statement in which she admitted to breaching the rules.
Ms Ferrier has referred herself to parliamentary authorities for investigation. If she is suspended for two weeks or longer a recall petition will allow constituents to force a by-election.
Commons officials declined to comment on the criminal action.
George Galloway, the former Labour and Respect MP, said that he quit as leader of the anti-independence Alliance for Unity party to prepare for a by-election if Ms Ferrier is recalled. Ged Killen, who held the seat for Labour between 2017 and 2019, has already put his name forward to stand.
Jamie Blackett, leader of Alliance for Unity, said: “If, as widely expected, Margaret Ferrier is now recalled by her constituents, our founder George Galloway will run in the by-election and start the process of disrupting the defeatist unionist consensus and demonstrating that the SNP can be beaten with his characteristic brio.”
Ms Ferrier was investigated by the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police but neither brought charges because the self-isolation regulations under which she could have been punished were not in effect when she travelled. The Met referred the case to Police Scotland.
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