Around 40 Greenpeace activists gate-crashed a speech by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on the state of the economy at an annual dinner for City of London grandees on Thursday night.
Mark Field, a Conservative MP and Foreign Office Minister for Asia and the Pacific, was caught on live TV grabbing a female protester who was passing his chair, pinning her against a pillar and then marching her out of the room by her neck.
The MP, 54, can be heard saying: "Can you get this person out?”
Footage shows foreign office minister Mark Field MP removing a protestor from the Mansion House dinner earlier this evening.— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) 20 июня 2019 г.
“It looks to be a very difficult situation for everyone concerned,” says @AlistairBurtUK #newsnight | @KirstyWark pic.twitter.com/KcrKdQs40C
Greenpeace has accused Field of assault, while opposition politicians were quick to demand his resignation.
“No one who reacts like this to a peaceful protest should be sitting in our parliament,” said Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi.
Mark Field should resign and be arrested. I don’t care in what order.— Tonia Antoniazzi MP (@ToniaAntoniazzi) 20 июня 2019 г.
No one who reacts like this to a peaceful protest should be sitting in our parliament. pic.twitter.com/cDqi7E5YnY
Dawn Butler, also from the Labour Party, said: “This appears to be [an] assault. He must be immediately suspended or sacked”.
This is horrific. Conservative Foreign Office Minister Mark Field violently grabs a woman as she protests about climate change at the bankers’ banquet.— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) 20 июня 2019 г.
This appears to be assault. He must be immediately suspended or sacked. Due to Violence against women.https://t.co/fjy6HZXyyG https://t.co/mM8hJ47ult
Obviously Mark Field must resign. You can’t behave like that— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) 21 июня 2019 г.
Some people, including his fellow party members, leapt to the volunteer bouncer's defence.
Conservative MP Peter said the woman was “trying to create a fuss” and qualified Field’s actions as a “reversal of direction” rather than an assault.
When I asked if Mr Field had been heavy-handed with the protester by grabbing her by the back of the neck, Sir Peter responded: “No, he reversed her direction and she looked as though she went willingly. I think there’s no reason to criticise Mark Field..."— Jennifer McKiernan (@_JennyMcKiernan) 20 июня 2019 г.
Mark Field referred himself to the Cabinet Office to investigate whether there had been a breach of the code of conduct.
He said he “deeply regrets” what happened and publicly apologised to the protester for grabbing her but explained that he acted tough with her because there was no security present at the venue and he was worried she could have been armed.