ANAS Sarwar has demanded Margaret Ferrier steps down immediately as an MP saying Labour is "relishing" the prospect of a by election in her constituency while the SNP fear one.

Ms Ferrier today lost her appeal against a 30 day suspension from the Commons recommended by the standards' committee.

The punishment was proposed after a breach of Covid rules by Ms Ferrier saw her speak in the House of Commons and take the train between Scotland and England while positive for the virus.

Today's decision rejecting an appeal means a crunch by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West has moved a step closer.

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier MP loses appeal against Commons suspension

However, for there to be by election, MPs will have to support the suspension in vote in the Commons and if they do so a recall petition could be triggered requiring some 10 per cent of voters to back it before a by-election could be held.

Speaking on the campaign trail in Cambuslang, which is part of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency, the Scottish Labour leader called for Ms Ferrier to resign as an MP and if she did not do so for SNP and Tory MPs to vote for her 30 suspension to enable a recall petition to be brought.

"There should absolutely be a by-election. But at every stage of this process Margaret Ferrier has done the wrong thing. She now has a final chance to do the right thing and resign and allow the local people to elect a new MP," he told reporters.


Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in Cambuslang this afternoon. Photo Gordon Terris/The Herald.

"Instead, the whole thing will have to go to a vote in the parliament, and if that happens I call on both the SNP and the Tory MPs to vote for this sanction so people here have an opportunity to have a say in that recall petition so we can have a fresh start here."

READ MORE: Panel's brutal verdict on Ferrier as appeal fails

He said: "A by election would allow people in this constituency to send a message to this scandal ridden, sleaze ridden Tory government, but also the scandal ridden, sleaze ridden SNP that we deserve a fresh start and change.

"And only Labour is offering that both here in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and also across the wider country."

He added local residents were "furious" with Ms Ferrier, believed the issue had gone on too long and that she was motivated by wanting to keep her job rather than standing up for her constituents.

"We are enthused, energised looking forward to both a by election but also the next general election," he said.

"There was a time when Labour feared elections and SNP relished elections. I think this is the other way around now. I think the SNP fear the by election and the election and Labour relishes both this by election and also the next general election.

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"This country is crying out for change because we have a morally bankrupt and economically illiterate Tory government and we have a dysfunctional incompetent SNP government.

"We have an opportunity for change and Labour now is the only party that represents that change."

With a sanction of 10 sitting days or more being enough to potentially force a by-election, Ms Ferrier, who now sits as an independent MP, had appealed against the length of her proposed suspension.

But the Independent Expert Panel, which considers appeals against decisions by the Committee on Standards from MPs, rejected this.

With regards to Ms Ferrier's appeal, a sub-panel which considered the matter found that "none of the grounds had substance" and also said that "the sanction imposed was neither unreasonable nor disproportionate".

With regards to Ms Ferrier's appeal, a sub-panel which considered the matter found that "none of the grounds had substance" and also said that "the sanction imposed was neither unreasonable nor disproportionate".

Ms Ferrier was elected as an SNP MP in 2019, but was suspended by the party the following year after she breached Covid rules.

She has already been ordered to complete a 270-hour community payback order by a court after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public "to the risk of infection, illness and death" as a result of her behaviour.

MPs will now be asked to vote on whether the 30-day sanction, which is being imposed as her behaviour also breached the House of Commons Code of Conduct, should go ahead.

Under Parliament rules, if an MP is suspended for 10 sitting days or more a by-election can be held - but for this to happen 10% of registered voters in the constituency need to sign a recall petition.

There has never been a recall petition in Scotland since the procedure was introduced in 2015.

Dismissing Ms Ferrier's appeal against the proposed 30-day suspension, the Independent Expert Panel said: "She acted with blatant and deliberate dishonest intent.

"She acted with a high degree of recklessness to the public and to colleagues and staff at the House of Commons.

"She acted selfishly, putting her own interests above the public interest. There could therefore be no lesser sanction for this conduct."

The report stressed that MPs are "expected to be held to a high standard of conduct as well as honesty".

It added: "When members fall short of that conduct, the trust and confidence in Parliament and its members are undermined."

Ms Ferrier had argued that the proposed 30-day ban "amounts to double jeopardy, since she has already been penalised by the Sheriff Court".

But the report from the Independent Expert Panel said: "We do not agree. There is no double jeopardy here."

It insisted the criminal proceedings against Ms Ferrier and the "workplace disciplinary proceedings" she now faces "are quite different".

The report went on to describe her as being "dishonest", pointing out she had not told anyone at the Commons she had tested for Covid, and when his came back positive, she failed to inform the Parliamentary test and trace team and did not tell the SNP chief whip.

The panel stated: "Ms Ferrier's failure was not a single misjudgement, but a series of deliberate actions over several days."

The report said the MP's actions "demonstrated, in particular, a lack of honesty" - adding that this was one of "seven principles of public life".

At a time when others "both across the country and within the Parliamentary community, made significant sacrifices in order to follow the rules and guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic", the report said Ms Ferrier "knowingly exposed others to risk".

An SNP spokesperson said: "There must now be a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, which the SNP has been calling for since Ms Ferrier's Covid rule breach first came to light in 2020.

"The SNP is ready to take the fight to the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party at that by-election - and we will be putting the cost of living, NHS and independence at the heart of our campaign.

"We will be working hard for every vote to ensure the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West can have a strong SNP MP to stand up for their interests locally and for Scotland."