UK politician fined for bar rampage

2012-03-09 20:11
London - A British lawmaker admitted he had been lucky to avoid jail after he pleaded guilty on Friday to assaulting four people in a late-night rampage in a bar in the House of Commons.

Eric Joyce, 51, who has been suspended by the opposition Labour party, headbutted Stuart Andrew, a lawmaker from the ruling Conservative party in the Strangers' Bar, which is reserved for Members of Parliament (MPs) and guests.

Joyce, a former soldier, also admitted attacking two Conservative local councillors during the disturbance last month.

He was fined £3 000 and ordered to pay £1 400 to his victims.

He was also banned from entering pubs or licensed premises for three months, while a weekend curfew order will last for a year.

Witnesses said "he was very angry, drunk, angrier than anyone", prosecutor Zoe Martin told Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.

As officers arrived to deal with the incident, Joyce shouted at them, "you can't touch me, I'm an MP", Martin said.

Joyce had loudly complained that there were too many Conservatives, or Tories, in the bar.

After he had shouted obscenities at the police called to restrain him, Joyce wrote in an officer's notebook: "We are a Tory nation, that cannot be forever... good cops unite."

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle told Joyce: "What you have done has not only brought physical harm [and] shame... but it has also damaged the place where you work, the place where laws are made."

Joyce said he planned to continue as a lawmaker for Falkirk in Scotland, which he has represented since 2000, until the next election, despite an ongoing Labour Party investigation.

He was suspended from the party the day after the incident and has already said he will stand down at the next election.

Outside court he said he was "deeply apologetic".

"I've been duly punished today. I've been lucky to avoid prison. I'm very ashamed, of course," he said.

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