15 March, 2013

Eric Joyce MP arrested after altercation at Commons bar

Eric Joyce MP arrested after altercation at Commons bar

The MP Eric Joyce was arrested last night after an altercation at a House of Commons bar - a year after he was convicted of assaulting four colleagues in another parliamentary fracas.
Eric Joyce leaving a police station in central London after he was arrested on suspicion of assault last year.
Eric Joyce leaving a police station in central London after he was arrested on suspicion of assault last year. Photo: Warren Allott

Mr Joyce was seen apparently wrestling with two police officers outside the Sports and Social Club bar at around 10.30pm last night before he was handcuffed and taken away in a police van.

The independent member for Falkirk is understood to have objected to a request not to take a drink outside the bar, which was hosting a karaoke evening.

Tony Grew, a journalist for the website PoliticsHome, who witnessed the incident, said: "I saw him with two officers. My understanding is he wasn't allowed to take a drink outside and he had decided not to follow through with that request."

He said the incident happened in front of around 50 people who were smoking in a designated area outside the bar.

He added: "It was a shocking end to what had been a very happy night in the bar."

Mr Joyce, who resigned from the Labour party last year, was last night taken into custody while police carried out inquiries.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Police were called shortly before 10.30pm this evening to reports of a disturbance at a bar in the House of Commons.

"Officers attended and a man in his 50s has been arrested in connection with this incident.

"He remains in custody and inquiries continue."

Officers were reported to have wrestled 52-year-old Mr Joyce to the ground outside the venue. At one point during the fracas an officer's helmet was knocked off, witnesses said.

Police reportedly shut down the bar and called for back-up to help take Mr Joyce away.

Mr Joyce is understood to have arrived at the bar after drinking in a Westminster pub with a member of his staff earlier in the evening.

His arrest came just over a year after he pleaded guilty to four charges of assault following an incident at the Strangers' Bar on February 22, 2012.

The then Labour backbencher was said in court to have told police officers "you can't touch me, I'm an MP" after aiming punches and headbutts at Stuart Andrew, a Conservative MP, and two Tory councillors.

He also attacked the Labour whip Phil Wilson, who was trying to calm his colleague down.

Before the brawl, he had complained "there are too many Tories in the bar".

Mr Andrew claimed Joyce was "drunker than anyone he had ever seen in his life", adding that "his eyes looked like no one was home".

After leaving Mr Andrew with a bloodied nose, Joyce told police: "He deserved it."

He was spared a prison sentence for the offence but was fined £3,000, banned from pubs for three months and ordered to pay compensation to his victims.

Mr Joyce, a philosophy graduate who has been an MP since 2000, said after the hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London that he intended to complete his term in Parliament but would not stand at the next election.

The former soldier, who resigned from the Labour party after the assault, accepted afterwards that he had been "hammered" on red wine.

He described the incident as "a matter of deep personal shame".

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