I'm completely ashamed of what Eric and I did… I can't bear to read Lolita now: Teen lover of headbutt MP Joyce reveals his 'clumsy and surreal' attempts at seductionMeg Lauder says sex with the Labour MP was 'formal and functional' 'We were just two lonely people looking for comfort', reveals teen
22:02 GMT, 10 March 2012
11:58 GMT, 11 March 2012
No romance: Teenager Meg Lauder said sex with MP Eric Joyce was 'formal and functional'
As the text alert chirruped on her mobile phone, schoolgirl Meg Lauder glanced quickly at her teacher to check he was looking the other way before reading the one-word message: 'Coffee'
The 17-year-old asked to be excused from her English class, citing a meeting with her MP.
For most teenagers, the excuse might have raised eyebrows, but as Meg was already known as an outspoken leader of the school's Amnesty International group and a Labour Party activist, no questions were asked.
Waiting for her nearby in a coffee shop, unperturbed by the fact she was playing truant for his benefit, was Falkirk MP Eric Joyce, a family friend she had known since she was eight.
Meg had offered to help with his campaign for the 2010 General Election, but Joyce, who had recently separated from his second wife, had other thoughts on his mind.
Within weeks of the coffee shop meeting, he would invite her to his flat during school hours – and for weekend overnight stays without her parents’ knowledge.
Last week, Joyce denied any sexual impropriety, but the allegations heaped further woes on the 51-year-old MP, who has just avoided jail for assaulting four fellow politicians in a Commons bar.
He was fined 3,000, banned from pubs for three months and given a 12-month community order, including a weekend curfew.
Meg, now 19, believes he got off 'very lightly' in court, and in a frank interview with The Mail on Sunday describes how the 'self-destructive' MP is going through a 'meltdown’ as he battles his demons.
Giving her full version of events, Meg describes how she had sex with the politician several times after his clumsy and 'surreal' attempts at seduction. And she claims his personal problems make him unfit to serve as an MP.
'Surreal': Falkirk Labour Facebook shows Meg posing with Eric Joyce during his 2010 campaign
'I can’t believe he got off with a fine,' she says of Friday’s sentence. 'I think he got off very lightly. If anyone else but an MP headbutted another MP then I don’t think they would have been dealt with in the same way. Had it been a member of the public, they would have faced a much harsher sentence.
'Eric’s problem is himself. He is self-destructive and we are witnessing someone going through a meltdown.
'I'm embarrassed to have been romantically linked with him and to have ever endorsed him and his Election campaign.
'Eric needs to take time to sort out his personal demons and should do the decent thing and stand down as an MP now. His constituents deserve better.'
Few people know more about those 'demons' than Meg, who witnessed Joyce's erratic behaviour following the collapse of his 11-year marriage to Rosemary, a 48-year-old grammar school headmistress.
Meg was a sixth-former at Falkirk's Graeme High School in February 2010, when she volunteered to help Joyce fight the Election, which was then three months away.
Thrown together repeatedly, it was not long before Joyce, with a failed marriage and under pressure to retain Labour's majority, began to see Meg in a different light.
For her part, the teenager, suffering from low self-esteem after discovering her boyfriend had been cheating on her, confided in Joyce.
She says: 'I felt unloved and unwanted. I suppose Eric felt the same in his own way. We were just two lonely people looking for comfort. But I was 17 and he was 49.
'I hate the idea of being portrayed as a victim but with hindsight I realise he should have known better than to do what he did.'
Headbutt: Eric Joyce leaves Westminster Magistrates Court on Friday after being given a 12-month community order and three month bar ban for assaulting politicians at Parliament
After the initially innocent text messages encouraging her to skip classes for coffee, Joyce suddenly changed the tone of their relationship. In his constituency office, after a hard day on the campaign trail, he pulled her towards him and kissed her on the lips.
She says: 'I'd been getting texts from Eric at school and it made me feel as if I was a respected member of the team as he wanted to have coffee with me.
'At school, I had a lot of conviction when it came to politics. I was such a pain. I would have arguments with my politics teacher just for fun.
'I found politics really exciting. At one point, I had hopes of becoming an MP myself one day. Eric promised that when he stood down, he would endorse me as a candidate. Not that I was happy about that, but I didn’t say anything at the time.
Activist: Meg offered to help Eric Joyce with his 2010 campaign but the MP had other thoughts
'With the General Election coming up, everything in the constituency was up in the air and it was hard to predict who would win the seat. It sounds sad but I would happily take on all the mundane tasks, from stuffing leaflets into envelopes to blowing up balloons.
'It was about six weeks after I started working for him that Eric changed towards me. We got back to the constituency office around 3pm one Saturday.
'It was just the two of us and as I was putting on my trench coat, he suddenly grabbed the belt and said, “I think we are about to behave very badly.”
'Before I knew what was happening, he'd pulled me towards him and kissed me on the lips. I hadn’t seen it coming and just froze, feeling awkward.
'I thought, “Oh Christ, my MP has just kissed me.” I didn’t know what to say, I was so surprised. He walked me down the stairs, asked me if I wanted to come over again the following week and kissed me again as I left to go home. It was like a bizarre dream.'
Back in her bedroom at home, its walls decorated with political posters, featuring Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Chairman Mao and Alistair Darling, Meg received another text message from Joyce, saying 'Can’t wait to see you on Tuesday'.
Three days later, she duly turned up at his flat during a free period from school, still wearing her school uniform. She claims Joyce told her to take off her school tie because 'it made her look so young'.
After a quick lunch of filled rolls in front of the BBC news, he suddenly started kissing her.
Meg says: 'It was the most surreal thing. He suddenly did this Thirties damsel in distress routine where he said in a strange voice, “No, we mustn’t kiss,” followed by, “Kiss me, you brute.”
'With hindsight, he was wanting me to turn round and say, It’s OK, go ahead and kiss me. But he was unsure of my reaction, so was trying to joke about it.'
Secret relationship: Eric Joyce told Meg news of their affair would 'all wash over'
After the awkward encounter, Meg returned to school for a religious studies class. But three days later, she was back at his flat, where she stayed overnight after telling her parents she was going to a party and sleeping over with a friend.
She says: 'I knew what I was doing and accepted what was going to happen. We started kissing on the couch and then he said he had “something to show me”.
'I knew what he meant, but I felt like cringing at his attempt at humour. We went through to the bedroom: one thing led to another, and we had sex.
Punch-up: How we broke the news of the fracas Eric Joyce caused in Commons
'There was no romance, it was almost formal and functional – nothing like I expected and nothing to write home about. It didn’t feel like it was a new boyfriend or lover.'
Afterwards, Joyce ordered a pizza and they watched a documentary.
Meg says they made love twice more that night. The next morning, she left for her Saturday job in Matalan, and Joyce went to his constituency office.
Several trysts at the flat followed, including one sexual encounter on polling day itself, when she skipped school to be with him.
Meg says: 'I wasn’t in love with him or besotted by him. I was lonely, like him, and just seeking comfort. We found it with each other.
'He started telling me he loved me. I think he thought it was what I wanted to hear, but it made me feel uncomfortable. “I love you, sweetie” he’d say. But there was no “when we get married” or “when we go on holiday together” – there was no life together outside the flat.
'Ours was a secret relationship. It was too embarrassing for it to be any other way. There was never a time when I thought it could have worked. It was what it was.
'I never met his wife and I believed him when he said the marriage was over. His twin daughters arrived to stay a couple of times and I think he thought they would find me fun to be around because I was younger.
But one of the most awkward moments came when he kissed me on the lips in front of them. I wasn’t ready to be a stepmum at 17.'
The relationship finally fizzled out after the Election, which Joyce won with a 7,800 majority.
Teenager: Meg was just 17 at time of fling
Meg says: 'He asked to meet me a couple of times, then changed his mind or didn’t show up. I decided that was it and didn't reply to his texts any more. I knew what we had been doing wasn’t right.
'By the time I was sitting my final Highers exam [the Scottish equivalent of A-levels] at the end of May that year, it was finished. I felt relieved and wanted to move on with my life.'
But three months later, she bumped into Joyce once again, during the Labour leadership contest to replace Gordon Brown.
She says: 'It was during Ed Balls’s tour of the UK to drum up support.
'My heart sank when I saw Eric. He’d had a lot to drink and kept approaching me every time he saw me on my own. He kept touching me, on the lower back or the shoulder and asking why I didn’t talk to him any more.'
Joyce also suggested that Meg approach Mr Balls and ask what his wife Yvette Cooper, now Shadow Home Secretary, 'was like in bed'.
Meg says: 'I couldn’t believe it. He asked if I would go back with him to where he was staying in Glasgow, but I refused. He had clearly been drinking a lot and began making really inappropriate comments. It was embarrassing.'
Two years on from their brief relationship, Meg now feels betrayed by Joyce and ashamed to have ever been romantically involved with him.
'I didn’t see myself as some sort of Lolita but he probably did,’ she says.
'There are so many similarities between that book and our time together, I can’t bear to read it. Now I am completely ashamed about what Eric and I did. It was a big lapse of judgment. All I was to him was another notch on his bedpost.'
The relationship between the two was exposed amid the publicity surrounding Joyce's drunken Commons brawl on February 22, when he headbutted Conservative MP Stuart Andrew and hit Labour whip Phil Wilson and Tory councillors Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney. Joyce had the Labour whip withdrawn over the incident.
Joyce, who has vowed to stand down at the next Election but not before, last night admitted that Meg had been in his Falkirk flat with him 'a couple of times’ – but flatly denied they had ever had sex.
He said: 'She is a very nice girl who was around me a lot over a two or three month period, but she never stayed overnight, we never kissed and we never had sex.'
Since their affair was revealed, Meg, who hopes to become a political journalist, has received hate mail from Joyce’s supporters.
She feels hurt by how she has been portrayed as a 'bit of a tart', and has received no payment for this interview, as she simply wanted put her side of the story.
She says: 'I feel as if my moral integrity is being questioned. There was so much trust on my part and he took advantage.
'When news of our affair broke, I called Eric and asked, “Did you tell anyone that we slept together” He said “No”. Then he said he thought I had, but told me not to worry because it would “all wash over”.’
He should be so lucky…