Disgraced MP Eric Joyce refuses to stand down despite being convicted of assault

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
Former Labour MP Eric Joyce has said he has no intention of standing down as the MP for Falkirk despite being convicted on four counts of assault at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London.
 
The MP, who was elected as the Labour candidate to the seat in 2010, entered guilty pleas to three charges of common assault and one of assault by beating.

Joyce, who was suspended by the Labour party shortly after being arrested, avoided prison and was ordered to pay a fine of £3000, together with £1400 compensation to his victims. 

The MP was given a twelve month community service order and has been barred from entering pubs for three months.  He has also had a curfew imposed at the weekends.

The court heard how Joyce had been drinking in Strangers Bar in the House of Commons when he attacked MP Stuart Andrew, before lashing out at political aides Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney, who was head-butted.   The Labour MP then assaulted his own party Whip Phillip Wilson.

According to witnesses there was a “happy and friendly” atmosphere in the bar before Joyce “flipped” on February 22.

Prosecutor Ms Martin said: “Mr Joyce started to sing very loudly …

“That was noticed by several people in the bar.  Nobody seemed bothered by it.”

Joyce then approached Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke, saying: “Don’t look at any of my guests like that again.”

MP Andrew Percy walked past and asked Joyce to move.  Joyce replied: “No, you f****** can’t”, Ms Martin said.

Witnesses said Joyce then shouted: “There are too many Tories in this bar” and later: “The bar was full of f****** Tories.”

Mr Andrews protested, saying: “You can’t behave in that way” and it was just after this that Joyce launched his attacks, punching and head-butting his victims.

According to reports, it took five police officers to restrain the Labour MP who was heard to shout “You can’t touch me, I’m an MP”.

Speaking outside the courtroom after the sentence, the controversial MP acknowledged that he had been fortunate not to have received a custodial sentence and admitted to having a tendency towards being “aggressive physically”.

Joyce said he was ashamed of what he had done and admitted he had let many people down.  However when asked if he would now step down as an MP, the former Labour Shadow Minister insisted he would stay on until 2015.

Outside court, Joyce said: “Clearly it’s a matter of considerable personal shame.  I’ve been duly punished today,  I’ve been lucky to avoid prison, I’m very ashamed, of course.”

Joyce confirmed several times that he would not resign as an MP before the next election.

“It would be easy but I was elected in 2000 and I will continue serving,” he said.

Joyce’s refusal to resign will be seen as a snub to Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont who called for the Falkirk MP to step down following further allegations of an affair with a teenage schoolgirl.  Mr Joyce, who is still a member of the Labour party, is expected to be expelled once disciplinary proceedings are finalised.

Even if expelled from the party, Joyce would still be able to draw his £65,738 salary, plus expenses.

This is the second conviction in less than two years for the former Labour MP, who in 2010 when Labour’s shadow Minister for Northern Ireland was caught driving whilst thought to be under the influence of alcohol – Joyce resigned his shadow role after admitting to failing to provide a breath test, he was fined £400.

Under the Representation of the People Act 1981, MPs are disqualified from the House of Commons only if they are convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to 12 months or more in jail.