A notorious Parliament bar where a worker was allegedly glassed in the face will be shut indefinitely after yet another violent incident.
Regulars at the subsidised Sports and Social Bar yards from the House of Commons say ‘massive brawls and tables flying’ are not uncommon on boozy nights out for staff.
On Tuesday a maintenance worker was arrested after a fight in a Parliament bar where former Labour MP Eric Joyce was held in 2013 after tensions boiled over during a karaoke night.
Alice Bailey, 25, claimed recently she was hounded for sex by up to 30 MPs including one who followed her on to a bus after she finished her shift behind the bar.
Sports and Social Bar drinkers can enjoy a pint for £3.40 or a glass of wine or gin and tonic for £3.50 – at least a £1 per drink less than in the outside world – and the bar had a sign on the wall saying ‘what happens here stays here’ until it was torn down a month ago.
Last night it emerged 12 police were called the scene and a maintenance worker arrested after a fight in which another man was allegedly glassed in the face at 6.30pm on Tuesday.
The Sports and Social bar (pictured) has been shut down as police investigate the brawl, which left one man hospitalised and another in a prison station
Alice Bailey, 25, who worked for almost four years at the Sports and Social Bar, said she was hounded for sex by up to 30 politicians
Police said a man aged 57 was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and affray, while a 64-year-old was taken to hospital.
Taxpayer foots £2.7million bill to subsidise MPs’ bars
Taxpayers pumped £2.7million into subsidising bars and restaurants at the House of Commons last year.
The net costs of the exclusive venues on the parliamentary estate rose by £200,000 compared to the previous 12 months.
The 8 per cent increase is likely to fuel anger about the continuing scale of the cash injection.
But the Commons authorities blamed the EU referendum, rising inflation, and the Westminster terror attack.
One of the most controversial elements of the catering at the House is that alcohol prices are kept artificially low.
In April this year the cost of a pint of beer at the Commons bars was nudged up by just 1.5 per cent to £3.35 – well below the 2.7 per cent CPI inflation rate at the time.
Eyewitnesses said a fight broke out after a man reading the newspaper through a magnifying glass at the bar was ‘needled’ and provoked by another drinker before ‘argy bargy’ ensued.
Paul Edgeworth, 29, a Parliamentary researcher who saw the altercation, said the injured man was a regular at the bar.
‘He works at Parliament,’ he said. ‘He’s in the bar most nights and he keeps himself to himself.’ Mr Edgeworth added: ‘We didn’t hear any raised voices but the man at the bar said something and the other guy went for him.
‘Then the guy left and the man at the bar followed him, grabbing on to his coat and scarf to stop him leaving. Everyone carried on drinking. I went outside afterwards and there was no sign of them, or smashed glass.’
He added: ‘I’ve been in there before and there’s been massive brawls and tables flying, but most people didn’t know this was happening until the police came in.’
In March 2013 then Labour MP for Falkirk Eric Joyce started throwing punches during a karaoke night at the bar.
He was eventually wrestled to the ground and spent the night in a prison cell following the drunken brawl.
Joyce was arrested on suspicion of assault after he allegedly wrestled two officers to the ground and held one in a headlock at Westminster’s Sports and Social Club bar. He was held in a London police station and released on Friday.
He claimed the incident occurred when police wrongly accused him of starting a separate fracas at the same bar.
Joyce says the only injury was to a policeman who sustained a ‘twisted finger’ when he ‘fell underneath’ the MP.
Ten days later he was told he would face no further action in relation to the incident.
Former Labour MP, pictured in 2012 outside court where he was convicted of assaulting politicians in a parliamentary bar. He was repeatedly hauled before magistrates for drunken bar brawls in Westminster’s bars during his time as a politician
Arrest: Joyce is restrained and handcuffed before being taken away by police in March 2013
And with the sexual harassment scandal sweeping through Parliament Alice Bailey, 25, who worked for almost four years at the Sports and Social Bar, said she was hounded for sex by up to 30 politicians.
Lib Dem councilor Greg Stone was drinking in the bar as the drama unfolded last night and told MailOnline the two men were having a row but ‘not quite fisticuffs’ before they stepped outside and the gl;assing allegedly happened.
Minutes later two anxious police officers hurried into the bar to talk with the staff, he said.
He said: ‘I know the Sports and Social has got a little bit of a reputation for being a bit lively – but this was not really a mass brawl. Just two older gents having a contretemps.’
‘The two people involved – they didn’t seem to be the type to have a pub brawl. It was quite bizarre.’
Mr Stone, who was visiting the bar for the first time to meet his friend for a drink, said the altercation appeared to erupt after the man reading the newspaper was provoked by the other.
He said: ‘There was an old gentleman at the bar who was reading the paper with a magnifying glass and being quite unobtrusive and minding his own business.
‘And there was clearly another gentleman there – I don’t know if he jostled him or what – but who reacted sharply.
‘The impression I got was the second gentleman was trying to needle and provoke the other guy a bit.
‘There was a bit of not quite fisticuffs, but a bit or argy-bargy was the guy at the bar tried to push him away a bit saying get off me.
‘I was standing a couple of paces away and I spotted it and stepped away a bit.
‘From there they were arguing a little bit and then they both stepped outside spoiling for a fight a little bit.’
The fight between two parliamentary staffers erupted at 6.30pm last night outside the Sports and Social Bar in the heart of the Westminster estate
An eyewitness said the fight broke out after a middle aged man provoked a man who was sat at the bar with a magnifying glass
Mr Stone went to dash out after them to say ‘hey, break it up, pack it in’. but the barmaid stopped him because he was carrying a pint glass.
‘A few minutes later two policemen came in looking quite agitated and spoke to the bar staff and left and went outside again very quickly.
‘The fight must have happened right outside by the smoking bit.’
He added: ‘It seemed like quite a nice place to go and drink. Sports and Social is well used by parliamentary staff – it would be a shame if this was the final straw.’
One report said the victim was an editor with Hansard – the official parliamentary scribes who report on proceedings in Parliament – but this was strongly denied by another Hansard employee.
Theresa May had promised to crack down on the heavy drinking culture in Westminster after sex harassment claims
Scotland Yard said: ‘Police were called at 6.30pm on Tuesday to a courtyard within the House of Commons to reports of an altercation between two men.
‘Police attended. A 57-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and affray and taken to a central London police station.
‘A second man, aged 64, was taken to hospital by the London Ambulance Service for treatment to non life-threatening injuries.
‘No other persons were involved. Officers from Westminster investigate. Enquiries continue.’
The bar, which is just around the corner form the House of Commons Chamber, is a favourite with young parliamentary researchers as well as MPs.
The pub is an infamous drinking den which hosts darts and pool competitions which have made it a favourite with younger researchers.
It is not the first time that the bar has hit the headlines after violence erupted within its walls.
For years it was a private members club for anyone who works on the estate which meant it used to run itself and was exempt from parliamentary management.
It is the only bar in the Palace of Westminster where all staff can go and drink without needing to be accompanied by an MP.
But questions have been raised about its future ever since the sex harassment scandal hit Westminster a few weeks ago.
There were reports that boozed-up MPs made unwanted passes at female workers pulling pints behind the bar.
Alice Bailey, 25, who worked for almost four years at the Sports and Social Bar, said she was hounded for sex by up to 30 politicians.
Miss Bailey, who was 19 when she started working there, said MPs ‘fancied their chances’ because they thought she was a ‘young barmaid’ while they were powerful.
She said she was regularly pestered for sex and that one Labour MP followed her home after a boozy night in the bar and was even groped her on a bus.
Theresa May has vowed to crack down on the culture of sex harassment and abuse which is said to lurk in the estate’s late-night bars.
And there were rumours that the bar could be shut down as parliamentary authorities scrambled to show they are getting a grip on the heavy drinking culture there.
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