THE INDEPENDENT Expert Panel’s assessment of Margaret Ferrier’s appeal was brutal.

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West had “acted with blatant and deliberate dishonest intent.”

She “acted with a high degree of recklessness to the public and to colleagues” and "acted selfishly, putting her own interests above the public interest.”

On every single ground, the disgraced former SNP politician’s appeal was dismissed at the first stage.

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier MP loses appeal against Commons suspension

The rejection of the appeal now means a vote on the Standards Committee’s recommendation that she be suspended for 30 days is imminent. 

If, as likely, MPs back the sanction it will automatically trigger a six-week recall petition in the South Lanarkshire constituency, which, if signed by 10 per cent of her constituents, will spark a by-election.

The only way for Ferrier to avoid the humiliation of a recall petition is to resign. Given that there have been calls for her to resign since details of her lawbreaking first emerged in October 2020, that seems unlikely. 

Just weeks before she took to Twitter to confess, the MP had experienced a “tickly throat.” She took a Covid test but felt well and did not self-isolate as the rules demanded at the time.

Instead, on Sunday 26 September, the MP attended mass at St Mungo’s Church, Glasgow, where she read from the bible to the congregation of around 45 people.

She then headed to Vic’s bar in Main Street, Prestwick, South Ayrshire, where she stayed for around two-and-a-half hours.

Despite feeling unwell, Ferrier then travelled to London on the Monday, taking a taxi from her home in Cambuslang to Glasgow Central Station.

She picked up some shopping from Marks & Spencer before catching the train to London Euston.

When she arrived, she checked into the £200-a-night Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge, before heading to the Commons.

In one of the most staggering moments of the whole affair, at 7.15pm that night, Ferrier took part in a debate on Covid.

“I start by paying tribute to all NHS key workers and volunteers in my constituency for their care and commitment over the past seven months,” she told MPs.

Afterwards, Ferrier then sat at a table in the MPs’ tearoom – usually allocated for SNP members – speaking at length to the DUP’s Jim Shannon.

When she received the positive result at 8.03pm by text and email, she then met with the then SNP chief whip Patrick Grady and told him she would need to leave parliament early and return to Scotland

She did not tell him about the positive test, instead pretending that a family member was unwell. 

READ MORE: Disgraced former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier to appeal Commons suspension

During the appeal, the panel asked Ferrier to explain why she had lied to Grady. 

She said she “was extremely uncomfortable dealing with him, and this includes an incident 10 days before this event where he sought to belittle, humiliate and intimidate me in his office.” 

Ferrier returned to her hotel at 9.20pm then, the next morning, headed back to London Euston to catch the train to Glasgow.

Test and Protect attempted to contact the MP four times but were unable to do so, leaving two voicemails.

It was another day before Ferrier told SNP colleagues that she had Covid.

At the time, they believed she had tested positive after taking a test once she had arrived back in Scotland.

It was only on Thursday that week, when informed by the House of Commons Test and Trace mechanism, that the SNP realised Ferrier had taken the test before travelling to London.

At a meeting in the office of the House speaker, Grady was told police would have to be involved.

After the party confronted Ferrier she then referred herself to Police Scotland and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and published a statement on Twitter.

“There is no excuse for my actions,” she said.

“I take full responsibility and I urge everyone not to make the same mistakes that I have and do all they can to limit the spread of Covid-19,” she added.

Despite the claim to have taken full responsibility, Ferrier initially pleaded not guilty when charged with culpable and reckless conduct in January last year.

That paved the way for a 10-day trial, which was only averted after she changed her plea at the last minute.

READ MORE: Ex SNP MP Margaret Ferrier guilty of breaking Covid laws

In her appeal, Ms Ferrier claimed the decision to suspend her for 30 days was unreasonable and disproportionate.

She also said the committee should have taken account of a medical condition she had which caused her to panic when the positive result came back.

There was also some dispute over whether she had actually self-referred or whether that had only happened because the news was coming out anyway. 

During the appeal, in her verbal evidence to the panel, the MP also moaned about the recall petition process itself.

She said the appeal meant that she had been forced to remain quiet while the other parties had been out campaigning in the constituency. 

“I am still not able to go out and chap doors and say to people why they shouldn’t sign a recall, if it came to that, or whether they should vote for me if I decide to stand in a by-election,” she said. “I have not been able to do any of that.”

In her evidence, Ferrier said the past two years had “provided plenty of time for reflection.” 

“While I of course deeply regret my actions, I have also grown as a result of them. There are ways they have made me a better parliamentarian, reminding me of the privilege that I hold in this job and the way that my words and actions can impact in positive ways, too. 

“It is why, despite all the hard part of remaining in the public eye, I have not shirked my responsibilities and have continued to regularly attend Parliament and engage with my constituents.”