MP faces suspension for ‘drunk abuse’ of two people at Commons bar

Neil Coyle says he has given up drinking alcohol since the incidents happened just a day apart at a bar on the grounds of Westminster Parliament (Image: PA)

The disciplinary panel recommended suspending the MP from parliament for five days.

As the MP for London’s Bermondsey and Old Southwark constituency, Neil Coyle had already had Labor’s battle on hold after two separate drinking incidents.

One saw Mr Coyle verbally insulting another MP’s parliamentary assistant and also making racist comments to a British-Chinese journalist.

The incidents took place just one day apart and took place in the same location – the Strangers Bar on the Westminster Parliamentary Estate.

The Independent Panel of Experts (IEP), which oversees appeals and sanctions in cases of intimidation and other complaints, issued a report today recommending the suspension of Mr Coyle for five full parliamentary days.

Noting that Mr Coyle will be absent from Parliament next week, the IEP said he expects this to be at a time when he would otherwise be expected to be at Westminster.

The panel further suggested that the MP make a public apology for his behavior from the House of Commons chamber.

Insider political journalist Henry Dyer said Mr Coyle made jokes about

Henry Dyer said he thought it was particularly important to expose abuses given the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic (Image: Henry Dyer)

Responding to today’s report in a statement on Twitter, Mr Coyle said: “I am very sorry for my offensive behavior and language last year.

“I have lived and worked in China, have many Chinese family members, and serve a vibrant, diverse community, and I acknowledge the pain and upset I have caused.”

According to the IEP report, Mr Coyle was engaged in a “heated debate” with an assistant to another MP on the evening of 31 January 2022 at Stranger’s Bar.

The exchange ended with Mr. Coyle yelling at an unidentified assistant, saying “fuck you, fuck you, get the fuck out”.

He then called the assistant “c**t”.

The next day, Mr. Coyle was back at Stranger’s Bar when he started talking to Henry Dyer, a British-Chinese journalist working for Business Insider at the time.

The pair were talking about Barry Gardiner – a Labor MP who had received funding from a Chinese spy – when Mr Coyle suggested that Mr Gardiner was “paid by Fu Manchu”, a cartoon villain boasting of Sinophobic tropes.

Upon learning that the journalist was half Chinese, Mr. Coyle later told Mr. Dyer that it appeared he was the one who paid Mr. Gardiner. The MP also stuck out two fingers at the journalist as he left the bar that evening.

Mr Dyer went on to say he felt particularly obligated to complain about the incident “given that racism and hate crimes against Chinese, East Asians and Southeast Asians have reportedly increased during the pandemic.”

He added: “Stereotyping someone based on their ethnicity shouldn’t happen to anyone.

“I hope this will raise awareness of anti-Asian racism and misbehaviour, especially around alcohol.”

The IEP noted in its report that Mr Coyle told the panel he had stopped drinking since the incident last year.

Mr Coyle added in his statement: “I am ashamed that alcohol has become so problematic in my life that I have developed an addiction.

“I am glad that I managed to survive a whole year without alcohol. (It) no longer negatively affects my judgment, relationships, or behavior.

“I will remain abstinent and I am extremely grateful to the people in Southwark who have given me so much and been so incredibly supportive.”

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