Labour MP apologises for bar brawl assault

Eric Joyce entering Westminster Magistrates Court this morning. Credit: Press Association

Labour MP Eric Joyce has admitted assaulting four people in a bar brawl inside the House of Commons. The 51-year-old former soldier headbutted Conservative MP Stuart Andrew and Tory councillors Luke Mackenzie and Ben Mane.

He then turned his fists to Labour whip Phillip Wilson after Mr Wilson attempted to restrain him.

Joyce has been suspended from the Labour Party in the wake of the incident. He pleaded guilty to common assault on the three Tories and the more serious charge of common assault by beating in the case of Mr Wilson.

Joyce was arrested after police were called to a disturbance inside the Palace of Westminster on the 22nd February.

The fight allegedly broke out after the MP started singing "very loudly" inside the Strangers bar. A barman told police officers he 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 then walked past and asked Joyce to move. According to witnesses Joyce replied: "No, you f **can't".

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

The fight got physical and Conservative MP Stuart Andrew was left with a bleeding nose, whilst Labour whip Philip Wilson endured a cut to his face.

Joyce is said to have completely "flipped", lashing out at a number of victims before eventually being restrained by several police officers.

Witnesses described the bar brawl as "like a scene from the Wild West".

One witness described Joyce's demeanour as looking "possessed and completely out of it". Another said his "eyes looked like nobody was home."

According to prosecutor Zoe Martin a "hammered" Eric Joyce MP then gave turned his anger towards the police as they arrested him.

He is reported to have yelled: "You can't touch me, I'm an MP" and called them "c".

As he was taken away, he shouted "He deserved it" and swore at the officers.

Wine drinking Joyce then wrote in a police officer's notebook: "We are a Tory nation, that cannot be forever... good cops unite."

Outside court today he made what he describes as the first apology for his "litany of crimes".

The Labour Party have indicated that any decision on Joyce's future would not be made until after he was sentenced. A spokesman said:

"Eric Joyce was immediately suspended. There will be a full party investigation pending the end of the legal process."

A senior Labour source was clearer: "This this is a process that will lead to his explusion from the party"

However his guilty plea does not necessarily mark an end to his career as an MP, and he indicated that he will continue until the next election.

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.