Timeline of events surrounding Margaret Ferrier’s positive coronavirus test

Margaret Ferrier
Margaret Ferrier - (Copyright PA Archive)
17:05pm, Fri 02 Oct 2020
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SNP MP Margaret Ferrier has admitted travelling to Parliament despite being required to self-isolate with coronavirus symptoms and then returning to Scotland by train after testing positive.

She was suspended by her party after publicly disclosing her behaviour on Thursday evening, but multiple questions about her actions remain outstanding.

Here the PA news agency looks at the timeline of events based on numerous accounts:

Coronavirus – Thu Oct 1, 2020 - (Copyright PA Wire)

– Saturday September 26

Ms Ferrier said this was when she experienced “mild symptoms” of Covid-19 in the afternoon and took a test.

She did not state where she was when she fell ill or whether she initially began isolating.

– Monday September 28

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said she was “feeling much better” so took a train to Parliament in London.

At 7.15pm, she gave a four-minute speech in the House of Commons during a debate on coronavirus.

Ms Ferrier says she received a positive result for coronavirus that evening, but did not state whether she received the diagnosis before or after addressing MPs.

– Tuesday September 29

Ms Ferrier boarded a train from London to Glasgow in the morning without seeking advice, and began self-isolating when she got home.

– Wednesday September 30

She informed the SNP she had tested positive, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle then being informed around 4pm and parliamentary authorities starting contact tracing.

Sir Lindsay told Sky News the reaction was immediate and “within 20 minutes we were in full swing on what we needed to do to ensure the safety and security of staff and members”.

The SNP insists it did not know at this stage she had taken a test before travelling to London.

– Thursday October 1

Ms Ferrier reported herself to Police Scotland.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she learned of Ms Ferrier’s actions “shortly after First Minister’s Questions” in the Scottish Parliament that ended at approximately 1.35pm.

Ms Sturgeon – speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday – also revealed SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford spoke with Ms Ferrier on Thursday afternoon after his flight to Inverness landed.

The party said it was at this point it became aware she had taken a test before departing for Parliament and had travelled back to Scotland knowing she was infected.

At 5.50pm, Ms Ferrier released a statement saying she was “very sorry for my mistake” and acknowledging she should have self-isolated while awaiting her test result.

On Thursday evening, Mr Blackford announced the SNP had withdrawn the whip from Ms Ferrier amid widespread calls for her to resign as an MP.

The House Of Commons press office, in a statement on Twitter, revealed one close contact of Ms Ferrier had been identified and asked to self-isolate.

– Friday October 2

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Blackford both called for Ms Ferrier to resign as an MP.

In a phone call to Ms Ferrier, Ms Sturgeon said she made it “crystal clear” that her “friend and colleague” should stand down.

She added Ms Ferrier was unable to give a “cogent explanation” for her actions.

Mr Blackford said Ms Ferrier’s position as an MP is untenable following the “tremendous error of judgment”.

The House of Commons announced that the person asked to self-isolate after coming into contact with Ms Ferrier had tested negative for coronavirus.

DUP MP Jim Shannon has been self-isolating since Wednesday, his party announced on Friday, saying he was informed he was a close contact of a coronavirus case that day, having shared a dining table with Ms Ferrier on Monday evening.

He has since tested negative for the virus, but is continuing to self-isolate as a precaution, the party said.

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