Scottish Labour MP arrested on suspicion of assault


By a Newsnet reporter

Eric Joyce, the Labour MP for Falkirk, has been arrested by the Metropolitan police on suspicion of assault. 

Police have confirmed that a man in his 50s was arrested around 11pm on Wednesday night after officers were called to a disturbance in the Strangers’ Bar, a bar in the Houses of Parliament which is frequented by MPs and their guests.

Sky News reported that the arrested individual was being held overnight in police custody in a central London police station to be questioned in the morning.

It is alleged that Mr Joyce punched several Tory MPS and threw drinks.  According to an eye witness speaking to the Politics Home website, the MP “started lashing out at people” after complaining loudly that the bar was “full of Tories”.  

The witness alleged that Mr Joyce pushed a Tory MP and then started punching some of the other Conservative members seated at the back of the bar.  It is also alleged that Mr Joyce punched a fellow Labour MP.

Stuart Andrews, the Conservative MP for Pudsey, has alleged that he was punched and headbutted by the Falkirk MP.  Mr Andrews maintains that he intends to press charges against Mr Joyce.

In a statement Scotland Yard said: “We were called at approximately 10.50pm last night to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons.

“A man aged in his 50s was arrested by officers on suspicion of assault.

“He remains in custody in a central London police station. Inquiries are continuing.”

The incident will cause acute embarrassment to new Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont under whose control all Scottish MPs now fall.  It follows recent claims of bullying and intimidation amongst the Glasgow Labour group after a female councillor alleged she was threatened prior to a crucial council budget vote if she didn’t support the party.

This is the second time in two years that Mr Joyce has spent the evening in police cells.  In November 2010, Mr Joyce spent the night in police custody after being arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol.  Mr Joyce refused to provide a breath-test.  He later pled guilty to guilty to failing to provide a sample without reasonable excuse.   Sheriff William Gallacher banned the MP from driving for one year and fined him £400.  Sheriff Gallacher told Mr Joyce:  “You brought this situation on yourself.”

As a result of his conviction, Mr Joyce resigned from the Labour party front bench, at the time he was their spokesman on Northern Ireland.

The controvesial MP has also been in the headlines as a result of his expense claims.  In 2011 it emerged that Joyce had claimed a staggering £200,000 in expenses for the previous year, which included over £46,000 in travel costs.

The former Army major also prompted outrage in 2010 when he likened middle-class voters to paedophiles, drunks and liars in a rant on a left-wing website.