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UK minister suspended after grabbing female climate protester by the neck

Mark Field has said he “acted instinctively” when he saw the woman and feared she may be armed.

Updated Jun 21st 2019, 11:40 AM

UK MINISTER MARK Field has been suspended after he was captured on video grabbing a protester by the neck at a black tie dinner in London last night. 

Greenpeace has accused Field of assaulting the protester and there have been calls for him to lose his job as foreign officer minister. 

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has now said that Field has been suspended pending an investigation into the incident. 

The spokesperson has reportedly said that Prime Minister Theresa May has seen footage of the incident and found it “concerning”.

Footage of the incident shows the Conservative MP pushing the woman against a pillar before grabbing her by the back of the neck and marching her towards the exit.

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

Labour has called for Field to lose his job but some colleagues have defended his actions.

The woman was part of a Greenpeace protest that saw dozens of women dressed in red interrupting a speech by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. 

“Instead of assaulting peaceful women protesters, Mark Field would be better off spending his time tackling the climate emergency,” Greenpeace UK said today. 

In a statement issued to UK media, including to Sky News, Field said he “acted instinctively” when he saw the woman and feared she may be armed. 

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

“A major security breach occurred at the dinner I attended last night when a large number of protesters suddenly and noisily stormed into Mansion House,” he said.

“In the confusion many guests understandably felt threatened and when one protester rushed past me towards the top table I instinctively reacted.

“There was no security present and I was for a split-second genuinely worried she might have been armed.

As a result I grasped the intruder firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possible. I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present.

Field also said he was referring himself to the Cabinet Office to examine whether there has been a breach of the ministerial code. 

The City of London police has also said that they have received “a small number third-party reports of an assault taking place at the [Mansion House] event” and are investigating.

Labour’s Dawn Butler MP was among those who called for field to be sacked. 

“This is horrific. Conservative Foreign Office Minister Mark Field violently grabs a woman as she protests about climate change at the bankers’ banquet. This appears to be assault. He must be immediately suspended or sacked. Due to violence against women,” she tweeted. 

One of field’s party colleagues, Peter Bottomley defended his actions this morning.

“He intervened, I congratulate him for that, I would have done the same. Although she may have been harmless, others won’t be,” Bottomley said, citing other politicians who have been killed or assaulted.

“Not intervening often has a cost and if it becomes a fashion there will be casualties.”

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Rónán Duffy

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