Thursday, 23 February 2012

MP Eric Joyce charged with assault

MP Eric Joyce has been charged with three counts of common assault after a disturbance at a House of Commons bar. The MP for Falkirk, who has been suspended by the Parliamentary Labour Party, was arrested on Wednesday evening after police were called. Mr Joyce, 51, of Bo'ness, near Falkirk, has been bailed and will appear at West London Magistrates' Court on 7 March. The allegations relate to Conservative MP for Pudsey, Stuart Andrew, a second Tory MP and a Labour whip. Mr Andrew had been in the bar on Wednesday following a Commons event organised by his Conservative colleague MP Andrew Percy, for the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament. Having spent nearly 24 hours in custody, Mr Joyce was seen being driven away from the rear of Belgravia police station, in central London, late on Thursday after being charged. Warning to MPs The BBC understands officers involved in the investigation returned to the Commons on Thursday evening to interview eyewitnesses. The allegations relate to a disturbance in the Strangers Bar, which is reserved for MPs and their guests. Mr Bercow told MPs after Mr Joyce was arrested: "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." Mr Joyce, a former Army major, was elected in a by-election in December 2000 and has served as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to a number of government ministers since 2003. He was PPS to the then defence secretary Bob Ainsworth until 2009, and prior to that had been a parliamentary aide to John Hutton, Mike O'Brien and Margaret Hodge.