MP Eric Joyce arrested after punch-up in Commons bar

Eric Joyce
Eric Joyce
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LABOUR MP Eric Joyce has been arrested after a fracas in a bar at the House of Commons.

Police are understood to have been called to a House of Commons bar, believed to be Stranger’s Bar, just before 11pm last night.

Labour MP for Falkirk, Mr Joyce, 51, a former army major, was arrested on suspicion of assault and taken to a police station in central London.

It is alleged Joyce launched an unprovoked attack on Conservative MP Stuart Andrew, 40.

It is claimed Joyce had to be held back by several Labour colleagues. A source was reported as saying: “Stuart was given a Glasgow kiss.”

Witness Luke MacKenzie, a Tory councillor, said: “Two people were standing up and one guy was going for the other. I stepped in between them and I tried to break it up. Punches were flying everywhere.”

Police are understood to have taken witness statements from six MPs and onlookers.

It is claimed Mr Joyce “started lashing out” at people in the bar. He was also alleged to have hit another Labour MP.

The alleged brawl was believed to have started after Mr Joyce apparently complained the bar was “full of Tories”.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We were called at approximately 10.50pm last night [Wednesday] to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons.

“A man aged in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of assault. He remains in custody in a central London police station. Inquiries are continuing.”

Mr Joyce was elected as MP for Falkirk West at a by-election in December 2000 after long-serving MP Dennis Canavan stood down to concentrate on his work in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Joyce has also been at the centre of controversy over his expenses claims, becoming the first MP to claim over £1 million in total.

He was the top-claiming MP for the 2005–06 parliamentary session, claiming £174,811 in expenses, of which 62 per cent was for staff and office costs. He then pledged to cut his expenses, but by 2007-08 was back at the top of the list with claims for £187,334.

His claims included £180 for three oil paintings. Asked why he had used taxpayer’s funds in such a way he replied “because they look nice.”

He has served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to a number of ministers since 2003. He was PPS to the then Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth until 2009.