MP Eric Joyce fined after cutting off curfew tag
ERIC Joyce was fined £600 after he admitted cutting off his electronic curfew tag so he could compete in a parliamentary boat race.
• Eric Joyce was fined £600 after removing the electronic tag in order to compete in a charity boat race
• The Falkirk MP removed the electronic tag with a pair of scissors, setting off an electronic buzzer and alerting security firm SERCO
• Joyce’s tagging order is due to end on July 10th
Joyce, the former Labour MP for Falkirk, was ordered to wear the electronic tag after being convicted of assaulting two politicians in a bar-room brawl in the House of Commons.
At Stirling Sheriff Court today, he admitted he used scissors to cut off the tag to avoid negative publicity pictures of him wearing it when he took part in a Commons versus Lords charity boat race on the Thames on 4 July.
Removing the tag triggered an electronic buzzer, and Joyce, 51, was contacted by security firm, Serco.
Joyce, who lives in Stirling, admitted he had made “an error”, but said he did not want to let down the organisers of the Siemens-sponsored race.
Joyce’s lawyer, Dick Sandeman, said: “He was at first not required to wear the tag, but he was eventually told he had to wear one and complied.
“He had agreed to take part in a charity rowing match. It was set to take place on 11 July, the day after his tagging order ended, but the race was moved a week earlier.
“He was rowing for the House of Commons against the Lords.”
He said the bulky nature of the tag would make it difficult for Joyce to row, and that he was aware the press attention that would be brought by him wearing the tag, so he removed it.”
Sheriff John Halley said: “You took it upon yourself to remove the tag which you were required to wear. You’re recorded as saying that you cut it off to stop your photograph being taken for the charity event.
“It’s not for you or any other person under a court order to decide to refuse to comply with the court order. You made a clear decision to breach the order.”
Joyce, who paid the fine before leaving court, said afterwards: “It’s quite a stiff penalty, but I’m an MP and it’s perhaps an attempt to persuade others not to do the same.
“The event was very high- profile and for charity. I didn’t want to overshadow the charity’s work,” he added. “If I turned up wearing my tag, that’s what all the papers focus would be on. Me and not the charity.
“I made the decision to cut it off. If I’d knew it was a breach at the time, I wouldn’t have done it.
“We didn’t even win in the end. We should have, though.”
Joyce, a former army major, was given a 12-month community order and a three-month curfew after admitting four counts of assault at Strangers’ Bar in the Commons. He was also permanently suspended from the Labour Party and now serves as an independent MP.
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