Eric Joyce MP Charged In Connection With Headbutting Incident During Commons Bar Fight

Eric Joyce

The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 23/02/2012 23:48 Updated: 24/02/2012 12:05

Eric Joyce, the Labour MP at the centre of an alleged headbutting incident in the Strangers Bar of the House of Commons on Wednesday night, has been charged with three counts of common assault following the incident, Scotland Yard has said.

The MP will appear before magistrates on the 7th of March.

The MP for Falkirk is alleged to have headbutted the Conservative member for Pudsey Stuart Andrew, in front of several other MPs and House of Commons staff. These have described the attack, which involved four Tory MPs and a member of the Labour frontbench, as completely without provocation.

Andrew was left concussed on Thursday morning, and was suffering from elevated blood pressure. However he's expected to make a full recovery. The Tory MP for the Pudsey area of Leeds is considered one of the most friendly and amiable members of the Commons, but has been open about his intention to press charges on Joyce.

The attack was witnessed first-hand by Tory MPs Jackie-Doyle Price, Andrew Percy and Alec Shelbrooke, along with several Tory researchers who had been sitting at the table adjacent to Joyce.

A member of Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price's staff was given a split lip in the incident, and in addition two male bar staff witnessed the attack. All those present gave statements to police officers at Westminster on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier on Thursday Labour suspended Joyce from the party, pending the outcome of the investigation. The Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, told MPs he was taking the incident "very seriously" and asked MPs not to raise it on the floor of the Commons.

It is the second time this month that an MP has been charged. Former energy secretary Chris Huhne was forced to step down from the cabinet after he was charged with perverting the course of justice - a charge he denies.

MPs had seen a series of rowdy debates on the NHS earlier on Wednesday, with a fiery exchange at PMQs between David Cameron and Ed Miliband. This was followed by a long and rancourous debate over whether Andrew Lansley should publish the NHS Risk Register.

The PoliticsHome website quotes sources as saying Joyce had complained that the bar was "full of Tories". Strangers Bar sees MPs from all parties drinking there every night that the Commons sits.

The Strangers Bar has seen more than its fair share of controversy so far this year, after Labour MP Kate Green complained about the allegedly "sexist" beer sold there. One of the guest ales in January was called "Top Totty", and after complaints from Green it was withdrawn and replaced with another guest ale, called "Kangaroo Court".

It is also not the first time a MP has been involved in a fight in a House of Commons bar. Last year Labour's Paul Farrelly was involved in a brawl in the Sports and Social bar on the parliamentary estate.

Farrelly said he was acting in self defence after being confronted with a man who "took a swing" at him.

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