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Eric Joyce Banned From Buying Alcohol In Palace Of Westminster

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UPDATE: Eric Joyce MP, who was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of assault in connection with a disturbance in a bar within the House of Commons, has been bailed to return to a central London police station on a date in late March, police said on Friday evening.

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has been banned from buying or being served alcohol anywhere in the Palace of Westminster, after he was arrested on Thursday following an alleged late-night brawl in a House of Commons bar.

Joyce, 52, remained in custody today answering police questions about the incident.

He was previously fined by a court and given a three-month ban on entering pubs and bars, following an incident in a Commons bar last February, when he punched and head-butted fellow MPs.

Serjeant at Arms Lawrence Ward - who is responsible for security and keeping order in the Commons - on Friday confirmed that the Independent MP was arrested after a disturbance and would be subject to an indefinite alcohol ban in parliamentary bars.

Asked about the incident during a press conference in Brussels today, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This is going to have to be properly looked at and I'm sure that the authorities both inside and outside of the House are more than capable of doing that."

Later, a House of Commons spokesman said: "The Serjeant at Arms has confirmed that yesterday evening the Member for Falkirk was detained following a disturbance on the Parliamentary Estate.

"The House authorities take their responsibility for the welfare of those who work in and visit the Commons estate very seriously. The authorities promote responsible alcohol use and have policies in place to encourage staff and Members to consume alcohol accordingly.

"Alcohol-related incidents on the Estate are rare, and the serious incident last night was counter to the policies in place.

"Given the Member for Falkirk has previously been found guilty of an alcohol-related incident on the Parliamentary Estate, the Speakers and House authorities have agreed that with immediate effect the Member for Falkirk will be prohibited from purchasing and being served alcoholic beverages from all Parliamentary facilities. This ban will be indefinite subject to the outcome of police investigations."

It is understood that Joyce was involved in an altercation at the Commons Sports and Social Club bar after apparently being told he could not take a glass with him when he went to a smoking area outside.

Witness Tony Grew, a journalist from the PoliticsHome website, told ITV it happened during a karaoke night in the bar, which was packed with about 150 people.

He said Mr Joyce entered the room "obviously agitated" and pushed his way forward to the bar.

When he followed him out of the bar he saw Mr Joyce on the ground "wrestling with two police officers".

"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," Mr Grew.

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

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said last night: "Police were called shortly before 10.30pm this evening to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons.

"Officers attended and a man aged in his 50s was arrested in connection with this incident."

Joyce resigned from the Labour Party after headbutting Tory rivals Stuart Andrew and Ben Maney in a previous incident in a Commons bar last February.

He also punched Tory councillor Luke Mackenzie and Labour whip Phillip Wilson and swore at police on that occasion.

The former soldier walked away from Westminster Magistrates Court with a fine and pub banning order after admitting four counts of common assault.

He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,400 to victims after he entered early guilty pleas.

Joyce was also given a 12-month community order - banning him from entering pubs and licensed premises for three months - and imposed with a curfew order from Friday to Sunday.

After the hearing, Joyce admitted he was lucky to avoid jail and said he was "deeply apologetic".

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