Eric Joyce faces growing calls to step down as MP

Eric Joyce has announced he will not seek re-election. Picture: PA
Eric Joyce has announced he will not seek re-election. Picture: PA
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DISGRACED Scottish MP Eric Joyce was released on bail last night after he was arrested on suspicion of assault in a disturbance within the Palace of Westminster.

Mr Joyce was held on Thursday night, and re-arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm while in custody at Belgravia police station, central London, police said.

He was banned from buying and drinking alcohol at Westminster yesterday following the incident, which came just over a year after Mr Joyce admitted assaulting politicians in a parliamentary bar.

The Falkirk MP was captured on camera being restrained by police officers on Thursday night after an incident at the Sports and Social Club bar.

Witnesses claimed to have seen the MP, who sits as an independent after being forced out of the Labour Party, “wrestling with two police officers” on the ground outside the bar, where 150 people were reported to have been at a karaoke night.

A statement issued by the Commons said Mr Joyce would be banned from buying alcohol from all House of Commons bars, cafes and restaurants until the police investigation was completed.

Commons’ authorities described it as the latest “serious incident” involving Mr Joyce.

The MP resigned from Labour after he was fined £3,000 and handed a 12-month community order, that expired just days ago, for headbutting Tory MP Stuart Andrew and attacking three other politicians in the Commons Strangers’ bar.

There were growing calls yesterday for the former Labour front-bencher to quit as an MP.

Dennis Canavan, the former MP for Falkirk, said that constituents were now reluctant to attend advice surgeries run by Mr Joyce, who also has a drink-driving conviction.

Mr Canavan said:“They don’t think he’s fit to do the job or capable of sorting out their problems. He should do the decent thing and step down.

“It’s a very sad situation for Eric and sad for the people of Falkirk who do not deserve this. Eric Joyce has brought Falkirk into disrepute and people should be given the choice to elect an MP who’s capable of representing them.”

Tony Grew, from the Politics-Home website, who witnessed the alleged brawl, said that he saw Mr Joyce on the ground “wrestling with two police officers”.

Mr Grew said: “He appeared to have one of the officers in an armlock, he put his arm around the officer’s neck, and the other police officer was on top of him.

“There were around at least 40 or 50 parliamentary staff, shocked, watching this melee as it occurred. I can vividly remember a policeman’s hat rolling on the ground towards me as I was watching this scene unfold.”

He said that after Mr Joyce was handcuffed he saw him “on a bench, being held down by three or four police officers – he was still struggling”.

Mr Grew suggested the altercation could have occurred because Mr Joyce became upset that he was not allowed to take a glass outside into the smoking area.

A by-election in Falkirk would mean a closely fought battle between Labour and the SNP. Mr Joyce held the seat for Labour at the 2010 General Election with a majority of 7,843 over the SNP. But the SNP won both the Falkirk East and Falkirk West constituency seats at the Holyrood election in 2011.