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A British Labour Member of Parliament has been arrested after a brawl in a House of Commons bar. Witnesses said that Eric Joyce, who represents Falkirk in the House of Commons, entered the Strangers Bar shortly after 10 pm local time and immediately began to complain that it was “full of Tories.”
According to the Evening Standard, Joyce appeared to be intoxicated, and was behaving boisterously. When he was asked to quiet down, he lost control of his temper and lashed out at other guests.
Joyce is said to have headbutted Conservative MP Stuart Andrew, and the Daily Telegraph reports that he may have hit as many as three Labour MPs. Andrew suffered a bloody nose in the attack, and may end up pressing charges against his colleague. Several MPs attempted to calm Joyce down, but he allegedly struck Andrew a second time.
Much to the chagrin of the parliamentary authorities, the fracas took place in front of a visiting delegation of Canadian parliamentarians. According to a Scotland Yard spokesman: “We were called at approximately 10.50pm last night to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons. A man aged in his 50s was arrested by officers on suspicion of assault. He remains in custody in a central London police station. Inquiries are continuing.”
The Labour Party has temporarily cut ties with Joyce until the matter has been resolved. “This is an extremely serious incident. We have suspended Eric Joyce pending the results of the police investigation,” said a party spokesman.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, made a statement in the chamber the next day. “Members will be aware of reports of a serious incident in the House last night. I have been informed by the Serjeant at Arms that the honourable member for Falkirk has been detained in police custody. The matter is being investigated. I take this matter very seriously, as do the House authorities. I would ask that no further reference should be made to these reports in the Chamber today,” he said.
Joyce entered Parliament in 2000 through a by-election. When Labour was in power, he served as an unpaid parliamentary private secretary to a number of ministers. In 2009, he achieved the dubious distinction of being the most expensive MP, having claimed £187,334 in expenses during the previous parliamentary year. He would go on to beat his own record and become the first MP to claim more than £200,000 in expenses.