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Brawl MP: I'm lucky to avoid jail

Shamed politician Eric Joyce has admitted he was lucky to avoid jail for brawling in a Commons bar then telling police: "You can't touch me, I'm an MP."

The Labour MP walked away from court with a fine and pub banning order after headbutting Tory rivals Stuart Andrew and Ben Maney in a drunken frenzy.

He also punched Tory councillor Luke Mackenzie and Labour whip Phillip Wilson. After leaving Mr Andrew with a bloodied nose, Joyce told police: "He deserved it."

Joyce, who accepted he was "hammered" on red wine during the brawl, launched into a frenzied attack after shouting that the Strangers' Bar "was full of f****** Tories".

The former soldier, who admitted four counts of common assault at Westminster Magistrates' Court, said he was now "deeply apologetic".

"Clearly it's a matter of considerable personal shame," the Falkirk MP said outside court. "I've been duly punished today. I've been lucky to avoid prison. I'm very ashamed, of course."

Joyce, who has been suspended by Labour, said he did not intend to stand down as an MP before the next election but expects to be kicked out of the Labour Party.

Mr Andrew said he does not hold a grudge despite the "traumatic" experience of being headbutted. Asked if Joyce should resign from his position, Mr Andrew said: "That's a matter for Mr Joyce, he has to think now about how best to serve his constituents."

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle fined Joyce £3,000 and ordered him 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.

Mr Riddle told Joyce he had considered jailing him, adding: "What you have done has not only brought physical harm (and) shame on yourself ... but it has also damaged the place where you work, the place where laws are made."


From Belfast Telegraph