British MP charged with assault over parliament fracas

AFP, Friday 24 Feb 2012

A British Labour MP was suspended from his party as he has been charged with three counts of assault during a late night fracas in the House of Commons

A British lawmaker with the opposition Labour party has been charged with three counts of assault following a late night fracas in a bar in the House of Commons, police said.

Eric Joyce was suspended from the Labour party in the wake of the incident on Wednesday night, in which Stuart Andrew, a lawmaker from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party, is alleged to have been headbutted.

Joyce was arrested at about 10:50pm on Wednesday, Scotland Yard said, and spent about 24 hours in custody before being charged late Thursday. He was released on bail and ordered to appear at a London court on 7 March.

A police statement said: "Eric Joyce, aged 51, an MP of Union Street, Bo'ness, West Lothian, has been charged with three counts of common assault following an incident within the House of Commons on Wednesday, 22 February."

The former soldier has been the member of parliament for Falkirk in Scotland since 2000.

"This is an extremely serious incident. We have suspended Eric Joyce pending the results of the police investigation," a Labour party spokesman said.

In the Commons on Thursday, Speaker John Bercow said he took the matter "very seriously, as do the House authorities", but added: "I would ask that no further reference should be made to these reports in the chamber today."

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