Essex company director avoids jail

A company director from Essex has avoided a stint in jail after being found guilty of punching a policeman in the face at the House of Commons.

Ian Thomas from Maldon Road in Colchester was stopped by Pc Christopher Leggett in a corridor as he tried to leave a drinks party hosted by Conservative MP Eric Pickles last year.

After being told he wasn't allowed to be in that part of the building, the court heard the 41 year old gave the police officer a "tirade of verbal abuse'' before hitting him, causing his lip to bleed.

Thomas has been handed a 9-month suspended sentence at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Recorder Martin Heslop QC said: "On any view this is a serious case involving an assault on a police officer carrying out his public duty.''