Ex-Labour MP Spared Jail Despite Extreme Child Porn Conviction

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On Friday, Judge Mr Justice Edis at Ipswich Crown Court handed 59-year-old Eric Joyce an eight-month prison sentence which was suspended for two years for making an indecent image of a child. He was ordered to attend an 18-day rehabilitation activity, pay prosecution costs of GBP1,800, ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work, and received a sexual harm prevention order.

The former shadow minister for Northern Ireland had been told at an earlier hearing that his offence crossed the custody threshold, with Judge Peters saying in July: “It’s going to be a question of whether it’s immediate or suspended.”

Joyce was the MP for Falkirk from 2000 to 2015. He served the first 12 of those years as a Labour MP before becoming an independent.

Police had arrested him in 2018 and found on one of his electronic devices a 51-second film depicting “the penetrative sexual abuse of very young children” between the ages of one to seven years, according to Sky News. It was determined to be a “Category A movie”, depicting the worst kinds of child sexual abuse.

The prosecution added that there was evidence Joyce had searched for “material for five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10-year-old girls”.

The offence took place between August 2013 and November 2018 — conceivably occurring during his time in the House of Commons.

This was not the first time that Joyce was convicted of a crime.

In 2015, Joyce was found guilty of two counts of common assault against two boys aged 14 and 15, throwing the younger to the ground and pinning him by the throat and winding the other with his elbow. He was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison — suspended for two years.

While in 2012, then a Labour MP, Joyce pleaded guilty to four counts of “assault by beating” after headbutting and throwing punches at Conservative lawmakers at Strangers bar, which is in the House of Commons. A drunken Joyce had told police on their arrival: “You can’t touch me. I’m an MP.”

“There were some noisy Tories around me. I nutted a guy. It was a wee scuffily thing,” the Scottish MP had told officers.

Mr Joyce escaped jail with only fines and was banned from every pub in Britain.

The former Labour MP joined the army in 1977 and reached the rank of major. However, during his 21-year career, Joyce had come to blows with the military. The army suspended him in 1998 after deeming him unemployable.

According to a BBC report from 2014, Joyce had claimed — whilst still serving in uniform — that the army was “snobbish and rife with racism and sexism”, and wrote unauthorised articles criticising the military, including one for the socialist Fabian Society, which is close to the Labour Party. Joyce embarked upon his political career shortly thereafter.

Joyce was not the only former Labour lawmaker who recently escaped prison after being found guilty of being in possession of child abuse pornography.

Last month, former Labour councillor for Exeter City Council Roger Spackman (50) was handed a suspended prison sentence for possessing 290,672 indecent images of children. Some of the pictures depicted the abuse of children as young as seven, with some victims being raped.