MP fined £3,000 (and banned from pubs) for fighting in Commons bar

Eric Joyce 'shamed' by attack on Tories and his Labour Whip and now faces party expulsion

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The Independent Online

A Labour MP has been spared jail despite attacking four politicians while drunk and telling police: "You can't touch me, I'm an MP".

Eric Joyce launched into the frenzied attack on the Tory MP Stuart Andrew in a House of Commons bar, before lashing out at political aides Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney and a Labour Whip Phil Wilson

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

Having pleaded guilty at Westminster magistrates' court, chief magistrate Howard Riddle yesterday fined him £3,000 and ordered him to pay £1,400 to the victims.

He was also given a 12-month community order – banning him from entering pubs and licensed premises for three months – and imposed with a curfew order from Friday to Sunday.

The MP for Falkirk, who accepted he was "hammered" during the brawl, expressed his "shame and embarrassment" at the attack. The 51-year-old said the fact that he was drinking was not an excuse "for the dreadful scenario that unfolded".

Joyce launched into a frenzied attack after shouting that the Strangers' Bar "was full of f****** Tories".

Witnesses to the brawl said "he was very angry, drunk, angrier than anyone", said Zoe Martin, for the prosecution. One onlooker said his "eyes looked like nobody was home".

Joyce, while sobering up in the cells told police of one of his victims: "I think he was a silly fat Tory MP. He was pushing like a girl and giving me a bearhug."

Sentencing Mr Joyce, Mr Riddle said: "What you have done has not only brought physical harm [and] shame on yourself ... but it has also damaged the place where you work, the place where laws are made."

He took into account Joyce's previous conviction for drink-driving but gave the defendant credit for his early pleas.

Outside court, Joyce said: "I've been duly punished today. I've been lucky to avoid prison. I'm very ashamed, of course." He said he wanted to apologise to a "long list" of people he had let down, including his constituents and fellow MPs. But he said he did not intend to stand down as an MP before the next election. "It would be easy but I was elected in 2000 and I will continue serving," he said.

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.

Joyce has already said that he will stand down from Parliament at the next general election, expected in 2015.

A Scottish Labour Party spokesman said: "Eric Joyce was immediately suspended from the party. He remains suspended following the completion of the legal process and the Labour Party's disciplinary process will now take place."

A senior source in the national party said: "This is a process that will lead to his expulsion from the party."