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Recall Petition For MP Who Broke COVID Rules Due To Close Today

A recall petition sparked by the suspension of COVID rule-breaker MP Margaret Ferrier from the House of Commons is due to close today.

If signed by 10% or more of her constituents in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Ms Ferrier will be removed from her seat – and a by-election called.

The petition opened on 20 June and closes at 5pm. South Lanarkshire Council will count the signatures on Tuesday, with 8,113 required to spark a contest.

Ms Ferrier, a former SNP MP who now sits as an independent, was ruled to have damaged the reputation of the Commons and put people at risk after taking part in a debate at Westminster and travelling by train while suffering from coronavirus in September 2020.

She was later charged by police and ordered to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death” as a result of her behaviour.

Ms Ferrier was subsequently suspended from the Commons for 30 days, which triggered the recall petition.

Three MPs have faced recall petitions previously, but there has never been one in Scotland since the procedure was introduced in 2015.

Both Scottish Labour and the SNP have got their eyes on Ms Ferrier’s seat.

Labour plan to put forward teacher Michael Shanks as their candidate, while SNP will field Katy Loudon.

Read more: Ferrier loses appeal over House of Commons ban

The closure of the petition comes just days after former first minister Alex Salmond spoke out in support of Ms Ferrier.

The Alba Party leader accused former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon of throwing Ms Ferrier to the “media wolves” after the party whip was withdrawn in light of the COVID breaches.

Mr Salmond said: “The current first minister has carried on this disgraceful lack of compassion to a woman who has devoted her life to furthering the cause of Scottish independence.

“If SNP members need to understand what has gone wrong with their party, they need look no further than this totally depressing display of disloyalty.”

In response, First Minister Humza Yousaf rejected the claims.

He said: “It’s not just an error of judgment of course, Margaret Ferrier was guilty of a number of charges as well. That’s pretty serious.

“I think Alex Salmond, perhaps not for the first time in this regard, is in a minority in terms of how Margaret Ferrier has been treated.”