UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, has been suspended as a minister after a video showed him pushing a female Greenpeace activist against a pillar and grabbing her neck while she protested at the chancellor’s Mansion House speech, The Guardian reported.
Police are investigating third-party reports of assault made against Field, who has since apologised to the protester. The MP for the Cities of London and Westminster said he felt threatened when the protester went past him and was worried she might have been armed.
UK Prime Minister’s Office said Prime Minister Theresa May had viewed the footage and decided to suspend Field. He had referred himself to the Cabinet Office and the Conservative party, who are both investigating.
“She found it very concerning. The police have said they are looking into reports over this matter,” May’s spokeswoman said.
“He will be suspended as a minister while this investigation takes place. Mansion House are looking into the breach of security that took place and we believe it is right they are now reviewing their security arrangements.”
May is understood to have spoken to her chief whip, Julian Smith, after viewing the footage, and Smith told Field he had been suspended mid-morning on Friday.
Dozens of Greenpeace activists disrupted Philip Hammond to draw attention to the climate crisis as the chancellor prepared to deliver his set-piece address in the City of London, video footage of the incident shows.
Labour called for Field to resign after the incident, with the shadow women and equalities secretary, Dawn Butler, describing the incident as “horrific”.
In a statement released in the early hours of Friday before his suspension, Field said he had reacted “instinctively” and was “genuinely worried” that the protester might have been armed.
He said he “grasped the intruder firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possible”, adding: “I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt I needed to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present.”
Field said he had referred himself to the Cabinet Office to “examine if there has been a breach of the ministerial code and will of course cooperate fully with their investigation”.