Sunday 25 February 2018

MP hits back at 'alcoholic' claims

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce sought to correct what he said were false reports about his health and general behaviour
Falkirk MP Eric Joyce sought to correct what he said were false reports about his health and general behaviour

The MP arrested after an alleged brawl in a parliamentary bar denied he was drunk at the time and has hit out at false claims he was an alcoholic.

Eric Joyce insisted he had consumed "by any standards a very modest amount" and criticised a decision by officials to bar him from drinking at Parliament.

And, amid calls for him to quit after the second such incident in recent years, he defended his "diligence" as the independent constituency MP for Falkirk.

Mr Joyce resigned from the Labour Party last year after being fined and handed a three-month pub and bar ban for punching and head-butting fellow MPs. He was arrested on suspicion of assault on Thursday after an altercation at the Sports and Social Club apparently over taking a glass out to a smoking area. The former soldier was released on bail yesterday.

In a posting on his website, the MP said he was limited in his responses to reports about him as he wanted to "respect the police inquiry". But in a series of points he sought to correct what he said were false reports about his health and general behaviour.

"I am not, and never have been, an alcoholic," he wrote. "I did, briefly, go through an unhappy period where I drank heavily. That ended 12 months ago, overnight, with the dreadful incident in Strangers for which I still feel genuine remorse in respect of those affected.

"I have spent the past 12 months making a concerted effort to address the causes of that incident. I do not go into bars, nor drink in my office. Nor do I inject alcohol right into my eyeballs while crying. I was not drunk last Thursday. I had consumed, by any standards, a very modest amount of alcohol. I was examined by a nurse after being arrested. I was pronounced fit for interview. I did not need to 'sleep it off'."

Mr Joyce also denied claims printed in The Daily Telegraph that there was an "anti-Tory dimension" to his behaviour on Thursday prior to his arrest and cited good cross-party relationships. He wrote: "Conservative MPs, many of whom I regard as personal friends, have gone out of their way to be kind and helpful throughout the last year. Labour Party colleagues have been enormously supportive. MPs of all other parties, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish, have too."

The Falkirk MP also addressed a number of personal issues which have been reported on and refuted they were a factor in his actions. He said: "I separated from my wife seven years ago. We are on excellent terms. I am not broken, tortured, lonely or tormented."

Mr Joyce claimed the reason for his original arrest in the Sports and Social Bar was "dropped" after "it became clear I was uninvolved in an incident the police had assumed I had been involved in". According to the MP, he was then re-arrested the following morning after new complaints were brought by police officers.

Press Association

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