Monkeypox outbreak delays defence report for trial of Covid charge MP

The monkeypox outbreak has delayed a defence report for the trial of a former SNP MP accused of putting people at risk by travelling between Glasgow and London by train with coronavirus symptoms, a court has heard.

By Lucinda Cameron
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:25 pm

Margaret Ferrier is accused of wilfully exposing people “to the risk of infection, illness and death” by visiting various places in the Glasgow area and London having been told to self-isolate in late September 2020.

Ferrier, an independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, did not attend the hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday, but her lawyer said she maintains her plea of not guilty to the charge.

Prosecutors allege that having booked a test for Covid-19, Ferrier “culpably and recklessly” put people at risk by visiting places including Lifestyle Leisure Centre, Vanilla Salon (a beauty salon), gift shop Sweet P Boutique in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, St Mungo’s Church in Glasgow and Vic’s Bar in Prestwick,Ayrshire.

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Ex-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier, currently an independent at the Commons, faces Covid regulations breach charges

The 61-year-old is said to have taken a taxi from Cambuslang to Glasgow Central Station, and from there allegedly took a train from Glasgow Central to London Euston and back, and visited the Houses of Parliament in London, along with other places unknown to prosecutors.

It is alleged that having booked a test for Covid-19, stating in the booking application that she had symptoms of the disease, and having been told to self-isolate, she put people at risk between September 26 and 29 2020 by travelling throughout Glasgow and the surrounding areas, and travelling between Glasgow and London and back.

Lawyer Neal McShane, representing Ms Ferrier, said the defence has not yet received a report from a virologist due to the monkeypox outbreak and said it would be preferable to have a further pre-trial hearing.

He told the court: “An issue that remains outstanding for the defence in relation to this case is that we are attempting to obtain a report from a virologist.

“A doctor had been identified and we’ve passed him the paperwork, but due to the outbreak of monkeypox he is required to work for a number of different people for that and as such we do not as yet have a report.”

He said the issue of funding for the report also has to be confirmed.

Sheriff Gerard Considine set a further pre-trial hearing for July 26 ahead of the trial which has been set for August 15.

Fiscal depute Mark Allan said: “It looks like a significant amount of evidence can be agreed which will cut down the length of the trial.”

The trial is expected to last around five days.

Ferrier had the SNP whip removed in 2020 after the allegations emerged.

She has come under pressure to resign from her seat, but remains an MP.