Eric Joyce Avoids Jail After Pleading Guilty To Assault Of Tory MPs

09/03/2012 12:50 GMT

Former Labour MP Eric Joyce has avoided jail after admitting going berserk during a House of Commons brawl.

Joyce pleaded guilty to four charges of assault at Westminster Magistrates Court on Friday morning and was given a 12-month community order rather than a prison sentence.

The 51-year-old admitted assaulting four politicians in MPs' watering-hole the Strangers Bar in February this year.

He was also fined £3,000 by the magistrate and ordered to pay £350 to each of his victims.

Prosecutor Zoe Martin told the court the MP told police "you can't touch me, I'm an MP" as they tried to restrain him.

The former army major was arrested after head-butting Tory MP Stuart Andrew, Labour whip Phillip Wilson and Tory councillors, Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney.

Joyce, who represents Falkirk, was suspended from the Labour party following the incident.

The judge's decision not to hand down a custodial sentence of over 12 months means Joyce can still remain as the MP for Falkirk.

He has previously indicated that he wishes to remain an MP until the next general election.

The government plans to change the law to ensure politicians who go to prison for under a year will be subject to an automatic recall election.