Eric Joyce charged with breach of peace after incident at Edinburgh airport


   By a Newsnet reporter

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has been charged with breach of the peace following an incident at Edinburgh airport on Sunday.

According to witnesses, Mr Joyce, who had arrived on a flight from London, left his mobile phone on the plane and allegedly became abusive after staff refused to allow him to return to the aircraft to collect it.

Concerned staff called for police assistance.  According to eye-witnesses the former Labour MP was aggressive towards the officers, resulting in a scuffle which saw the MP wrestled to the ground by police.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “A 52-year-old man has been reported to the fiscal in connection with an alleged breach of the peace, which happened at Edinburgh Airport on Sunday, May 19. He will appear in court at a later date.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said that police were called after staff made complaints about the behaviour of a passenger on Sunday evening.

In February last year the controversial MP left the Labour party after being convicted of assault following a fracas in a bar in the House of Commons.  Joyce had allegedly head butted a Conservative MP and had to be restrained by several officers before spending a night in the cells.

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”.

Joyce was fined £3000 after being convicted on four counts of assault at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London.  He was given a twelve month community service order and barred from entering pubs for three months.  He also had a curfew imposed at the weekends and forced to pay £1400 to his victims.

The MP, who remained a member of Parliament, resigned from the Labour party but refused to resign his seat, the former Labour Shadow Minister insisted he would stay on until 2015 ensuring he continues to draw his £65,738 salary, plus expenses.

In August 2012 he was fined a further £600 after he was convicted of removing his tag in order to participate in a parliamentary charity boat race.

In March this year Joyce was involved in another episode in a House of Commons bar which saw him arrested, but no charges were made.

If convicted it will be the third conviction in less than three 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.

The controversial MP was also the centre of a scandal in 2012 after it emerged he had an affair with a 17 year old teenage schoolgirl who had been helping with his 2010 election campaign when he was a Labour candidate.

There will now be considerable pressure for the former Labour MP to stand down as representative of Falkirk.

The seat is currently the centre of an internal row between the Labour party and the trade union Unite over allegations of selection rigging.

On Friday the Labour Party halted the selection process to replace Joyce.  The row involves Unite’s preferred candidate for the seat, Karie Murphy, who is a former union official who runs the office of Labour’s election co-ordinator, Tom Watson.

A Labour spokesman said: “We have suspended the start of the selection process of the Falkirk parliamentary seat.  Concerns have been raised about membership recruitment which need to be investigated.  An officer of the party will carry out an investigation to ensure the integrity of the process.”

Dennis Canavan, who was previously the Labour MP for Falkirk, and who now chairs the Yes Scotland campaign, attacked Labour for not getting to grips with the selection process.

Mr Canavan said: “I feel extremely sorry for my former constituents who have been badly let down by the Labour Party.”