DISGRACED MP Margaret Ferrier has made a last-ditch plea to her constituents, urging them not to remove her from office.

The fate of the rule-breaking former SNP politician — who last year pleaded guilty to wilfully exposing MPs, travellers, churchgoers and others “to the risk of infection, illness and death” — is in the hands of voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, with Scotland’s first recall petition opening today.

If more than 10 per cent of Ruglonians add their names to the petition, either in person or by postal vote, Ms Ferrier will automatically lose her seat, triggering a by-election.

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier urges constituents not to sign recall petition

In her statement, Ms Ferrier said her record of work for her constituents spoke for itself.

She said: “As an independent MP, my constituents are my top priority and always have been.

“The most important thing is that they are able to access the right support when they need it and can be confident that their views are represented. My record speaks for itself in this respect.

“I do not have any desire or need to play into party politics, which inevitably distracts from constituency issues and the needs of local residents. 

“While parties have already spent months arguing about their candidates for a by-election that has not even been confirmed, they have disregarded the very real issues faced by many in our community.

“That is why so many constituents have expressed to me that they do not want a by-election."

The MP said some voters had told her that the instructions provided by the local authority were "unclear."

"If you wish to see me continue as your MP, then do not sign the petition paper," she added.

The statement continued: “It is ultimately up to the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West to decide what happens next – not Westminster, not Holyrood, and certainly not any political party HQs."

Ms Ferrier was found guilty of culpable and reckless conduct at Glasgow Sheriff Court last August after she admitted travelling on a train in September 2020 despite knowing she had Covid. 

The MP also spoke in the House of Commons and visited a number of locations in Glasgow, including a mass in St Mungo’s church and a bar in Prestwick.

After the positive result came through, she lied to colleagues and said she had to go home to visit a sick relative. 

She was ordered to carry out 270 hours of community service

In her statement, Ms Ferrier said: “I made a mistake – for which I continue to apologise and have faced severe punishment. It has not deterred me from doing right by my constituents and continuing to fight on their behalf. I hope that my constituents will recognise this.”

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier: Scotland's first recall petition to open on June 20

Labour and the SNP are confident that the 8,113 signatures necessary to force a by-election can be gathered before the 31 July deadline.

The two parties have registered as campaigners for the recall petition, which means they can both spend up to £10,000 over the next six weeks urging voters to remove Ms Ferrier. 

Unregistered petition campaigners are only allowed to spend £500 on petition campaign activity.

Labour and the SNP have already selected their candidates for a contest which on paper looks like a shoo-in for Anas Sarwar’s hopeful, modern studies teacher Michael Shanks.

The SNP has selected local councillor Katy Loudon. 

She said: “Constituents in Rutherglen and Hamilton West have the opportunity to hold a by-election and elect and SNP MP who will stand up for them against this rotten Tory government. The first step in that process will be to sign the recall petition.

“In the face of Tory economic incompetence and a Labour party looking more and more like a Tory tribute act the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West need a strong SNP voice to stand up for them.”

If Ms Ferrier loses her seat, the timing of the by-election will be up to the SNP, who have the responsibility to move the writ in the Commons. 

They must put a motion to MPs, and if agreed, the Speaker will notify the relevant Returning Officer.

There is no statutory time limit for the moving of the writ.

However, because the petition ends in the middle of summer, the earliest they can move the writ is when the Commons returns in September.