Eric Joyce

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Eric Joyce
Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk
Member of Parliament
for Falkirk
Falkirk West (2000–2005)
In office
21 December 2000 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Dennis Canavan
Succeeded by To be elected
Majority 7,843 (15.4%)
Personal details
Born Eric Stuart Joyce
(1960-10-13) 13 October 1960 (age 54)
Perth, Scotland, UK
Nationality Scottish
Political party Independent
Other political
Labour Party (1999–2012)
Alma mater University of Stirling
Military service
Allegiance British Army
Rank Major

Eric Stuart Joyce (born 13 October 1960) is a British politician and former military officer, who became a member of parliament (MP) in 2000, and the MP for Falkirk, Scotland in 2005.

Joyce served as a private in the Black Watch before attending University and subsequently receiving a commission in the Royal Army Educational Corps. He left the army in 1999 at the rank of Major, and served as the Public Affairs Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality (Scotland).

He was elected to Parliament in the 2000 Falkirk West by-election as a member of the Labour Party, retaining his seat in the 2001 general election, and elected to the enlarged Falkirk constituency in the 2005 general election. From 2003, Joyce served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to a number of UK government ministers. He resigned as the PPS to Bob Ainsworth on 3 September 2009, citing concerns over the war in Afghanistan.

Joyce was suspended from the Labour Party in 2012 after he was arrested on suspicion of assault. He pleaded guilty, and on 12 March 2012 resigned from the Party (but continued as an MP). In March 2013 he was once again arrested on suspicion of assault, but not prosecuted. Both incidents took place in a House of Commons bar and were related to alcohol. The selection of a replacement candidate caused the 2013 Labour Party Falkirk candidate selection row, an internal NEC report into which was referred to the Scottish Police Service.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Joyce lived in Perth with his family for most of his childhood and adolescence. He joined the Army in 1978, initially as a private in the Black Watch before taking a sabbatical between 1981 and 1987 to attend technical college and university where he gained a BA (Hons) in religious studies from Stirling University. As a university candidate, he was made a probationary second lieutenant on 25 August 1987.[2]

In 1987 he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before being commissioned into the Royal Army Educational Corps (later Adjutant General's Corps) as a subaltern with seniority to 7 October 1981.[3] After receiving his commission he continued his studies part-time and acquired an MA in Education from the University of Bath and an MBA from Keele University. During his time in the army he served in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Germany and Central America. He was promoted to captain on 25 January 1990[4] and to major in 1992. He left the army, by resigning his commission on 12 March 1999,[5] amid controversy after he described the armed forces as "racist, sexist and discriminatory",[6][7] before going on to serve as the Public Affairs Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality (Scotland).

Political career[edit]

He was first elected to parliament in the 2000 Falkirk West by-election, which was prompted by the resignation of Dennis Canavan. On election he served as a member of the Scottish Affairs and the Procedures Select Committees at Westminster. Joyce retained his seat in the 2001 general election, and was elected to the enlarged Falkirk constituency in the 2005 general election.

From 2003 Joyce served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to a number of British Government ministers. He resigned as the Parliamentary Aide to Bob Ainsworth on 3 September 2009 citing concerns over the war in Afghanistan.[8] He had previously been PPS to John Hutton during three of Hutton's cabinet posts: when he was the Secretary of State for Defence; Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Prior to that, Joyce served as the parliamentary aide to ministers Mike O'Brien MP, when O'Brien was the Minister for Energy at the Department of Trade and Industry and Margaret Hodge MP, Minister for Industry and the Regions at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Joyce has persuaded the Treasury to change the child benefit regulations to remove a discrepancy that disadvantaged young Scottish FE students relative to their peers in the rest of the UK.[9] In April 2008 Joyce became the first European parliamentarian to be granted an opportunity to address the newly formed Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when he visited the DRC as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa with other members of the group.[10] In September 2008, Joyce was criticised by local government councillors for describing the name of the new Clackmannanshire Bridge as "unimaginative" and "parochial".[11] The naming of the bridge was reported as a contentious matter.[12][13]

He is also the author of a Fabian pamphlet titled Arms and the Man: renewing the armed services,[14] edited Now's the Hour!: new thinking for Holyrood and has served as Chair of the National Executive of the Fabian Society.

In September 2011 he contributed to the book What next for Labour? Ideas for a new Generation; his piece was entitled "It's a Sin".[15]

As an Independent MP he has come out strongly in support of fracking.[16]

Parliamentary record[edit]

Joyce most often puts his questions in the House of Commons chamber to the Scotland Office, Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Northern Ireland Office, and Ministry of Defence.[17] While a Parliamentary Private Secretary Joyce was expected to vote with the Government,[18] but even when not, he has not broken the Labour whip in Parliament.[19] Joyce is not currently a member of any Parliamentary Select Committees but has been a member of several public bill committees.[17]

Joyce, along with fellow MPs Tom Harris and Jo Swinson, regularly uses the social networking tool Twitter during Parliamentary business including the Prime Minister's Questions to encourage constituents to feel involved with parliamentary proceedings. Despite such activities being permitted under parliamentary rules, the MPs in question have received criticism from some sections of the media for what is perceived to be a lack of participation in the parliamentary proceedings while they are using the social networking tools.[20] Joyce is an advocate of new media in politics. He regularly blogs on current issues concerning House of Commons and the Government.[21] He regularly communicates with the public on Twitter and his blog.[21]

Expenses claims[edit]

Joyce was the top-claiming Member of the House of Commons for the 2005–06 Parliamentary session, claiming £174,811 in expenses, of which 62% was for staff and office costs.[22] After the 2005–06 Parliamentary session he made a public pledge to cut his expenses; during the 2006–07 session he moved down to 11th on the list of MPs' expenses and allowances,[23] but again rose to the top for 2007–08 with £187,334.[24]

In October 2007 he claimed £180 for three oil paintings. When asked why he had used taxpayers' funds in such a way he replied "because they look nice."[25]

In May 2009, tabloids reported Joyce was seeking advice from HM Revenue and Customs regarding unpaid capital gains tax on the sale of his London home, which he had designated as his second home under the Second Homes Allowance scheme. When asked what he would do were he asked to pay the overdue tax, Joyce stated he would "suck it and see."[26]

Anti-Gaelic campaign[edit]

In 2012 Joyce waged an internet campaign against the Scots Gaelic language. Using his Twitter account, he derided the language as being "an old, unadaptive language with relatively few words for things" and Gaelic poetry as "basically doggerel" and "mainly a bit of rubbish".[27] He was criticised for his views by the Scottish Government.

Relationship with schoolgirl[edit]

In March 2012 Joyce admitted having a relationship with a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl who had worked for his 2010 general election campaign. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: "This is a man who has abused his position of power and authority. I’m disgusted: regardless of any other issues, I think this makes Eric Joyce unfit to stand for the Labour Party." In response Joyce said he would step down at the next general election, scheduled for 2015.[28]


Drink driving[edit]

On 18 November 2010, he was arrested for failing to provide a breath test following a motoring incident in Falkirk. He pleaded guilty in court the following day and was fined £400 and banned from driving for a year. Joyce resigned from his position as Shadow Northern Ireland Minister and apologised for his behaviour.[29]

Assaults in the Houses of Parliament[edit]

Joyce was arrested at 22:50 on 22 February 2012 in the Palace of Westminster by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of committing assault. He was described as having gone "berserk", hitting "at least three MPs, including a Labour whip".[30] He headbutted and punched the Conservative MP, Stuart Andrew,[31] after striking Labour Assistant Whip, Phil Wilson, while Wilson was attempting to restrain him. He also assaulted Basildon Conservative Councillor, Luke Mackenzie, and Thurrock Conservative Councillor, Ben Maney, both of whom were attempting to break up the incident. Two more Conservative MPs, Alec Shelbrooke and Jackie Doyle-Price, were also caught up in the fracas while attempting to intervene and calm Joyce down.[32] The disturbance occurred at the Strangers' Bar (reserved for MPs and their guests).[33]

Suspended the following day from the Labour party after his arrest, on 23 February he was charged with three counts of common assault and released on police bail.[34] A fourth charge was added on 9 March.[35] He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,400 in compensation to his victims, but not given a custodial sentence. [35] In a statement before the House of Commons on 12 March 2012, he apologised personally to his victims, stated that he had resigned from the Labour Party, and that he intended to complete his current term as an MP but not seek re-election.[36]

In August 2012, Joyce was back in Court after using scissors on 4 July 2012 to remove the electronic tag that had been fitted to his leg as part of the community order; he was fined £600.[37]

A year later, on 14 March 2013, Joyce was again arrested following reports of an altercation in the sports and social bar of the House of Commons.[38][39] As it was his second alcohol-related incident on House of Commons premises, the following day Joyce was given an indefinite ban by the Office of the Speaker from purchasing or being served alcoholic beverages from all Palace of Westminster premises, including its eight bars.

Joyce was released under police bail from Belgravia police station the same day, when it was revealed that he was facing a charge of occasioning actual bodily harm,[40] but he was not ultimately prosecuted.[41]


On 19 May 2013 Joyce was involved in a disagreement with airline staff and police at Edinburgh airport regarding a mislaid mobile phone. There were conflicting reports about the incident.[42] On 21 March 2014 he pleaded guilty to a charge of breach of the peace at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £1,500 with £150 compensation.[43]

Camden incident[edit]

On 17 October 2014, Joyce was arrested after 'clashing' with a teenager at a store in Camden. He was charged with two counts of common assault and one count of criminal damage. He appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on 30 December 2014, where he pleaded not guilty and was given conditional bail to appear for trial on 1 May 2015. [44][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Labour to refer Falkirk selection row to police". BBC News. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51158. p. 15612. 21 December 1987. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51349. p. 8350. 27 May 1988. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52144. p. 9478. 21 May 1990. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 55453. p. 4137. 12 April 1999. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  6. ^ "UK Politics: Outspoken major 'protected' by ministers". BBC News Online. 2 December 1998. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "UK: Outspoken army major faces sack". BBC News Online. 28 February 1998. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  8. ^ "Full text: Eric Joyce's resignation". Channel 4. 3 September 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  9. ^ Lydall, Ross (11 April 2009). "Blunder leaves Scots parents short of tens of millions in benefit". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Congo: Unfinished Business" (DOC). All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa. July 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  11. ^ McRoberts, Kevin. "MP blasted over silly jibe". Alloa Advertiser. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  12. ^ "Troubled waters for bridge naming". BBC News Online. 15 December 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Salmond opens £120m Clackmannanshire Bridge over Forth". The Herald. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  14. ^ Joyce, Eric (31 August 1997). Arms and the Man – Renewing the Armed Services. Fabian Society. ISBN 0-7163-3037-7. 
  15. ^ Contributors. Retrieved on 11 March 2012.
  16. ^ Eric Joyce Falkirk Fracking Fine. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Eric Joyce". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  18. ^ "Parliamentary private secretaries (PPSs)". BBC News Online. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  19. ^ shows the only occasions when Joyce has differed from the majority of Labour MPs were on matters where no whip was applied: principally House of Lords reform and restrictions on smoking in public.
  20. ^ "Woodward and Bernstein can relax". Tom Harris MP. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ a b "Eric Joyce's blog". Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  22. ^ Branigan, Tania (27 October 2006). "MPs' expenses claims hit record £86.8m". The Guardian (London, UK). Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  23. ^ "MP Joyce drops down expenses list". BBC. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  24. ^ "Scottish MPs are top claimants for expenses". STV. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  25. ^ "Joyce interview". Newsnight. 19 June 2009. BBC. 
  26. ^ MacDonell, Hamish (25 May 2009). "Scots MPs prepare to 'suck it and see' after tax revelations". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  27. ^ Calum Ross, "Online attacks on Gaelic language 'just a bit of fun'",, 3 November 2012.
  28. ^ Severin Carrell (2 March 2012). "Eric Joyce to step down as MP after relationship with teenage girl". London, UK: The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Labour MP Eric Joyce banned from driving". BBC News. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  30. ^ MP goes berserk in Commons bar brawl – Politics – News – Evening Standard. (23 February 2012). Retrieved on 11 March 2012.
  31. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Mulholland, Helene (24 February 2012). "Eric Joyce stripped of Labour whip after allegations of Commons assault". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  32. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Mulholland, Helene (23 February 2012). "Eric Joyce charged with three counts of assault over fracas in the Commons bar". The Guardian (London, UK). 
  33. ^ "MP 'held over Houses of Parliament bar assault'". BBC News. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  34. ^ "MP Eric Joyce charged with assault". BBC News (BBC). 24 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  35. ^ a b "Falkirk MP Eric Joyce escapes jail after admitting assault charges in Commons brawl". BBC News (BBC). 9 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  36. ^ "MP Eric Joyce apologises to MPs over bar brawl". BBC News (BBC). 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  37. ^ "MP Eric Joyce fined for curfew tag offence". BBC News. 31 July 2012. 
  38. ^ "MP Eric Joyce arrested after reports of Parliament bar fight". BBC News. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  39. ^ Silverman, Rosa (15 March 2013). "Eric Joyce MP arrested after altercation". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  40. ^ "MP Eric Joyce banned from Commons drinking". BBC News. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  41. ^ The Guardian newspaper: Eric Joyce charged with breach of the peace at Edinburgh airport, 22 May 2013
  42. ^ The Guardian newspaper: Eric Joyce denies being charged with breach of peace, 26 May 2013
  43. ^ "MP Eric Joyce fined over Edinburgh Airport abuse",, 21 March 2014.
  44. ^ "MP Eric Joyce charged over shop incident"
  45. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dennis Canavan
Member of Parliament for Falkirk West
New constituency Member of Parliament for Falkirk
Succeeded by
To be elected