MPs behaving badly in 2014: Resignations, defections and prison sentences

 
Guy Bentley
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MPs that made it on to the naughty list (Source: Getty)

MPs rarely set the moral standard for the rest of us with fraudulent expenses claims, licentious behaviour and tasteless tweets galore.

This past year has once again seen a handful of those charged with governing the country being held up as examples of bad, rather than good, behaviour.

Here is a list of those MPs who may not be looking back at this year with much fondness.

ERIC JOYCE

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has earned a reputation as something of a Commons bruiser after headbutting Tory MP Stuart Andrew in a bar brawl a couple of years ago. Yesterday, Joyce was arrested for the fourth time in less than three years after "clashing" with a teenager at a shop in Camden on Friday 17 October.

The 54-year-old Joyce is due to appear before the Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on 30 December. Joyce, who now sits as an independent after being forced out of the Labour party, has been charged with two counts of common assault and one count of criminal damage.

EMILY THORNBERRY

Labour's former shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry recently learned that hell hath no fury like a Twitter backlash. On the campaign trail of the Rochester and Strood by-election Thornberry tweeted a picture of a house hanging several England flags with a white van in the driveway. The caption was "Image from Rochester".

The tweet was immediately interpreted as a show of snobbery from a north London MP and member of the famed metropolitan elite. Thornberry didn't help her case by clarifying that the house was a "striking" image. She resigned, and the Labour leader Ed Miliband was inundated with questions over whether the party was in touch with working class voters. When asked what he thought when he saw a white van he gave a painful answer:

DENNIS MACSHANE

Former Labour MP and Europe minister Denis Macshane was released from prison in February after serving six weeks of a six-month sentence for fiddling his expenses. Last year, he pleaded guilty to submitting 19 fake receipts for £12,900.

BROOKS NEWMARK

In what felt like a throwback to the John Major days of Tory sleaze, Brooks Newmark resigned after sending some saucy photos of himself to an undercover journalist posing as a Tory PR woman on Twitter.

Alex Wickham, from the Guido Fawkes blog, posed as "Sophie Williams" and made contact with a host of MPs. Paul Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes blog, later defended the story, writing:

How do our critics expect us to prove an MP is exploiting his position for carnal gain?

So, kids: if you're looking for a career in Westminster, be careful what you tweet - because there is crowd ready and waiting to tear you apart.

PATRICK MERCER

A long-time foe of David Cameron, former Tory MP Patrick Mercer resigned in April after he was suspended from the House of Commons for allegedly taking cash for questions. Mercer was filmed by the BBC's Panorama programme agreeing to set-up an all-party parliamentary group to advocate Fiji returning to the Commonwealth.

MARK RECKLESS

In a bitter blow for the Tory party, Mark Reckless defected at the Ukip conference in Doncaster. The Conservative party chairman slammed Reckless's move saying he "lied and lied and lied". Reckless's defection left a more bitter taste in the mouths of Conservative MPs than that of Douglas Carswell who many praised for acting honorably and on principle.

MIKE HANCOCK

The Portsmouth MP resigned from the Liberal Democrats as he faced allegations of sexual assault. He was arrested in 2010 after a complaint was filed about his behaviour toward a constituent. He also issued an apology this year over an "inappropriate and unprofessional friendship".

MARK HARPER

In a scene straight out of The Thick Of It, Mark Harper was forced to resign his position as immigration minister after it was discovered his cleaner for seven years didn't have permission to work in the UK. Harper was behind the infamous "go home" vans that urged illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin.

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