The BBC internal wires are circulating this account of how last night’s Joyce episode began. Look North reporter Joe Inwood’s report has worked its way into Guido’s inbox:
- Andrew Percy MP was hosting an event for the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament, at which Stuart Andrew MP was a guest.
- The night had progressed, and the speaker (and family) had left.
- Eric Joyce was also in the bar, and was having a conversation with Alec Shelbrooke MP.
- Andrew Percy had gone to the bar and on his way back asked to get past AS and EJ.
- EJ was then heard (by eye witness) to say something along the “no you can’t. I’m fed up with this place. It’s full of f###ing Tories.”
- Somehow this confrontation ended with Andrew Percy being pushed to a wall.
- At this point Stuart Andrew stood up and told him (EJ) to stop.
- IT IS ALLEGED THAT At this point EJ then grabbed SA by the tie, pushing him up against a wall.
- AP had gone to get the police, who promptly surrounded Joyce, although did not restrain him.
- Eric Joyce IS SAID TO HAVE objected to his treatment, saying they could not do this to an MP.
- IT IS CLAIMED THAT he then, whilst surrounded by police launched himself at SA, head butting him and punching him.
They go on to confirm that this window was broken during Joyce’s removal.
Tomorrow we might write about something else…
Interviews are currently going on in Committee Rooms 16/17/18 for members and staffers who witnessed last night’s fun and games. There is also some speculation that Joyce has been moved from Belgravia to another police station. Either way, he’s been in custody for over sixteen hours now. Tea Room gossip is gathering pace too…
Though Guido stresses this is just gossip, there is is talk that Joyce took a swing at the desk sergeant when he was being booked in last night…
Anyone remember what he was drinking?
Strangers’ Bar staff have been called to
Belgravia Police Station at 3pm to give further witness statements about the Eric Joyce brawl. Other MPs who witnessed the affair, as well as staffers and other drinkers will also be interviewed in the coming hours.
Guido understands that the really bad news for Eric Joyce is that as many as eight officers witnessed him breaking out of police custody to return to the fray. Police sources indicate that the main headbutting incident happened after the police had first intervened. All of the officers have given statements this morning. There is further bad news for Joyce in the fact that one of the victims, possibly Tory MP Stuart Andrew, was left concussed from the incident, meaning that the charge could be Actual Bodily Harm rather than assault. And that’s by-election territory…
UPDATE: ITV’s Alex Forrest says the Members are being interviewed in their Westminster offices.
From a co-conspirator:
“I was in strangers bar last night and saw the fight first hand.
I don’t know who threw the first punch, or why it happened, but I first noticed something had happened when Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke was trying to restrain Eric Joyce shouting “YOU DO NOT DO THAT TO AN MP IN THIS HOUSE!”. Others then tried to drag Eric away from everyone else.
Eric continued to struggle and broke away from those who were holding him back. A couple of people got punched, tables got knocked over, drinks spilt, and glasses broken. A Conservative female MP then put herself in between Eric and the people he was after shouting “PUNCH ME BEFORE YOU PUNCH MY STAFF!” Yet Eric continued to struggle.
A couple of people managed to hold him down on the ground until the police arrived, who cuffed him and took him away. The security informed us while they were taking statements and names that it took them so long to get there as they went to the Sports and Social bar first.”
Seems about right…
What happens in the Strangers’ Bar stays in Strangers’ Bar, or so they like to think. That rule goes out the window though if you’re a Labour MP who gives a Tory colleague “a Glasgow kiss”. Labour’s Eric Joyce was nicked last night after apparently headbutting Tory MP Stuart Andrew.
Witnesses tell Guido he “just kicked off” and start flailing shouting “There are too many Tories in the bar”. Tory councillor Luke MacKenzie got punched while trying to break things up. Guido is trying to work out what triggered it all and you can whisper what you know here.
Aside from one too many taxpayer subsidised pints of course…
UPDATE: Joyce wasn’t the only politico arrested last night. West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who was forced out of UKIP, was arrested in Birmingham for conspiracy to defraud the EU Parliament.
It’s been a long eight months…
Guido was just thinking that blog-favourite Steven Purcell had been quiet for a while, and then just as Miliband headed for Scotland, up he popped again. In another stunning PR success, Labour’s one time Glasgow golden-child, was questioned by police over the weekend about an “assault” that took place at his flat at 5:30am on Sunday morning. Guido understands that Glasgow councillor had been out celebrating the fact that the Crown Office had dropped their investigation into his time as chief of the Labour-led City Council. As we covered extensively at the time, Purcell’s career ended with him in rehab and his criminal associates under the microscope.
Police were called to an “after party” that got out of hand and punches were thrown in a dispute with an invited guest. Having had their investigation into corruption shunned by the powers that be, Guido imagines that the police were only too happy to wade back in to this one. Purcell was questioned for ten hours.
A younger man was also arrested…
UPDATE: Anna Raccoon has more.
Guido is off for beer and sandwiches with Eric Pickles to mark the launch of the growing Trade Union Reform Campaign. The new group must be doing something right given that they have sent both the Morning Star and the TUC round the bend today.
In a pre-emptive move the TUC rushed yet another one of their poorly researched spin memos declaring all of the great things that taxpayer-funded trade union officials apparently do. It will come as no surprise that the Taxpayers’ Alliance were able to shred it within hours.
Next time the TUC want to be taken seriously, they shouldn’t get the pseudo-academic/Morning Star writer Gregor Gall to do their research. He relied on a discredited BIS review that was conducted under the union-funded Labour government. No wonder it was pro-brother…
After campaigning for nearly a year now on the issue of Pilgrims, Guido likes what has been trailed so far from Pickles’ planned speech:
“The public want their council tax frozen and their bins emptied every week. They don’t want it spent on trade unions’ political campaigning. It’s not right that the public’s money is covertly being used to bankroll union activists. They are diverting resources away from frontline services, waging class war with public funds. At a time when every council needs to help pay off Labour’s deficit, it’s time to cut these pilgrims and axe these non-jobs on the rates. Unions should not be given free office facilities and the free service of union dues being collected by government employers.”
TURC has attracted the support of both Liam Fox and Aidan Burley, amongst others. Anyone know what the dress code is?
It’s always nice to know your work is appreciated, so Guido enjoyed his chat last night with a northern Labour MP whose name escapes him and whose face blends in.
“Amicably” discussing the Commons subsidy and difference in prices for the public and Members, Guido was asked what he was doing sipping a taxpayer subsidised lager in parliament:
Andrew Lansley told the Speccie…
‘I don’t like a minimum price, we are acting against below cost selling. My problem with a minimum price, well I have two problems. One is it’s regressive, so there are perfectly normal families who just don’t happen to have much money who like to buy cheap beer or cheap wine. Should they be prevented? No, I don’t think so and if you put in a minimum price, one of the journalists calculated that if you set it at 50p a unit it would add £600 million to the profits of retailers and drinks manufacturers which doesn’t seem to me to be the right thing to do in these circumstances.’
In the wake of the Mail on Sunday’s scoop about Tory MP Aidan Burley stupidly attending that stag party, the BBC have done a useful compendium of other similar incidents. They seem to have forgotten one key public figure who actually donned the suit himself though: the Shadow Chancellor. What a surprising omission…
Guido has made multiple attempts to contact Ed Balls today; through his personal mobile, his SpAd and his private office. Funnily enough he has refused to condemn Burley, despite being given every opportunity to. He refuses to speak on the subject…
Labour have been trying to make some capital out of the incident, but are finding it tough given their own little problem. They have deployed the big gun that is John Woodcock, who like you, Guido had never heard of until this morning. Woodcock says Burley attending the party was “sickening behaviour”. What is his view on actually wearing an SS uniform?
Though he has his moments, few were surprised to see Labour MP John Mann contribute to the Westminster Hall debate on the lobbying on Tuesday. There was one particular target for his angst:
“Let us take the case of Bell Pottinger and the Werrity scandal. In that case, the question that arises is about the international role of lobbyists, because what has not come out is information about the role that Bell Pottinger was playing in Sri Lanka. People have been distracted from that issue, not least because Lord Bell is doing quite a lot of the public relations to try to cover his tracks and what was going on… Bell Pottinger is being paid to facilitate such things on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka …
There must be absolute transparency in all the meetings that we have as politicians, and there is not. The lack of transparency is the fundamental weakness that exists, with people claiming that “private engagements” have happened. There should be no such thing as a “private engagement” for a Minister, and there should be very little of it for an MP. There should be transparency.”
Some good points, however Mann failed to declare his own “private engagement” with Bell Pottinger. Attendees at the 2005 Labour conference regaled to Guido the spectacle of a grossly inebriated Mann skulling £46-a-bottle Mumm Cordon Rouge 1996 at the expense of, you guessed it, Bell Pottinger. A proud rent-a-quoter such as Mann should remember the one about glass houses…
A Friday treat for you from last night – an “absolutely totally brilliant” butchering of a Dylan classic “Forever Young” by our old friend:
Despite Gordon Brown saying there was “no place in public life” for him, Draper is back in the fold and singing his heart out as his old chum Tom Watson looks on at last night’s fundraiser for Ed Miliband’s Political Adviser Polly Billington’s shoo-in selection bid for the Thurrock constituency.[…] Read the rest