MARGARET Ferrier made a reckless tour of the UK after getting a coronavirus test and failing to self isolate – and could have broken the LAW.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this lunchtime that Ms Ferrier’s breach was the “worst imaginable” kind after the SNP MP got a train from London to Scotland and back while infected with coronavirus.
Ms Sturgeon said when she first found out about Ms Ferrier’s reckless actions she was “struggling to comprehend how anyone could behave in that way”.
She told a briefing this lunchtime: “The one rule that has been clear and unchanging throughout this, is the rule to self isolate when you have symptoms and get tested and then if you test positive to absolutely make sure you complete (self-isolation).
“This is not a minor breach of the rules, this is not an inadvertent breach of the rules, it’s really flagrant and dangerous breach of the rules.
“Travelling on a train when you know you’re positive with Covid is possibly the worst breach imaginable.”
The first breach the SNP MP might have made is under tough new laws in England that mean people face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to self-isolate.
But Ms Ferrier might have just slipped under the net, as the laws came into force on Monday, and she was tested over the weekend.
Ms Ferrier was tested on Saturday, before travelling to London on Monday before she had her test result and was “feeling better”.
The laws say if someone “tested positive for (coronavirus) pursuant to a test after 28th September 2020” they can face fines.
Lawyer Adam Wagner said: “I don’t think any law has been broken if the test was taken on Saturday and results on Monday 28th.
“The self-isolation regulations only apply to tests AFTER Monday 28th.”
Ms Ferrier’s second breach was of the guidance in Scotland which directs anyone who either has symptoms of coronavirus or has taken a coronavirus test to isolate while they await their results.
This is not a law but the standard fines for breaking social distancing rules start at £60.
If people continually break the rule this doubles each repeat offence up to a maximum of £960.
A refusal to pay a fixed penalty could result in a court fine of up to £10,000.
The rules on self-isolation in both England and Scotland tell people not even to go for a walk outdoors or pop to the shops if they are feeling unwell.
Ms Ferrier travelled almost 400 miles by train, spoke in Parliament, and then returned to Scotland by train after she found out she was positive for coronavirus.
Massive questions have been raised as to why Ms Ferrier did not stay in her hotel in London once she received her diagnosis.
In her statement she said she returned home “without taking advice”.
Under English law, a person must not leave self-isolation unless it’s for “medical assistance, where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner.”
Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle lambasted Ms Ferrier’s actions this morning.
He said: “We only got told on Wednesday while I was in the chair, (at) about 4pm.
“We reacted immediately to the news we had been given. This is completely reckless behaviour for an MP to put staff and fellow MPs through, it is not acceptable.
“I certainly would expect better, it’s something what made it worse was only being told on Wednesday, something that was known about on Monday.
“Within 20 minutes we were into full swing on what we needed to do to ensure safety of staff member, to make sure everything was right.
“This is now a police investigation.
“This is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do.”
Downing Street has said Boris Johnson believes everyone must follow the coronavirus rules, but refused to be drawn on whether Margaret Ferrier should step down as an MP.
A No 10 spokesman said: “That is a matter for her and her party. We have been clear of the need for people to follow the rules. This is all about saving lives and protecting vulnerable people.
“The Prime Minister has been clear that everybody needs to follow the rules in order to allow us to reduce the spread of the virus and protect lives.”
Another breach could be under a new law brought in on Monday which made it an offence to ignore self-isolation where it is “reckless” to do so.
It is against the law to break self isolation and come into close contact with other people where the person behave “recklessly” to the consequences of their actions.
That could mean that even though Ms Ferrier did not break the initial laws on self-isolation because her test was before they came into force – she still could have broken this law.
Ms Ferrier faces fines of up to £4,000 for that offence.
Not only did she take various train journeys, but at 7.15pm she gave a speech in the House of Commons where a member of staff was sitting close by.
Ms Ferrier could also have broken the law when she failed to immediately tell her SNP colleagues about her test results.
Mr Blackford has said he found out about it on Thursday morning, and SNP sources have told Sky News they thought she had only been tested on Wednesday – after being in the Commons.
The law says employers must be informed “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
It was only yesterday when Ms Ferrier reported herself to Scottish police for her actions.
Police Scotland said the MP informed them of her behaviour on Thursday and officers are “looking into the circumstances” along with the Metropolitan Police.