The senior Tory has been suspended as Asia minister while an investigation is carried out, Downing Street said this morning. He physically confronted the Greenpeace activist while she demonstrated during an black-tie event at Mansion House on Thursday evening, during Chancellor Philip Hammond’s speech. While many have called on the Conservatives to sack Mr Field, others have leapt to his defence. What do you think? Vote in our poll below.
After the video surfaced, Mr Field apologised “unreservedly” to the woman and said he had referred himself to the Cabinet Office for investigation.
In a statement given to ITV, 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.”
City of London Police said: “We have had a number of third-party reports of a possible assault. These are being looked into.”
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for the senior Tory to be sacked.
Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi said: “Mark Field should resign and be arrested. I don’t care in what order.
“No one who reacts like this to a peaceful protest should be sitting in our parliament.”
But fellow Conservative MP, Sir Peter Bottomley, came out in support of Mr Field, saying: “He intervened – I congratulate him for that – I would have done the same.”
In the video, Mr Field, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, can be seen pushing the woman against a column before marching her out of the room with one hand firmly clamped to the back of her neck.
Chancellor Philip Hammond was giving a speech about the state of the UK economy when the protesters burst into the venue and began chanting: “This is a climate emergency”.
Areeba Hamid, a Greenpeace climate campaigner, told the BBC the woman was “in shock” after Mr Field manhandled her but was comforted by the “outpouring of support” online.
She said the woman had underwent training for non-violent direct action and, like fellow campaigners, was prepared for legal consequences but not “physical assault”.
Greenpeace’s Hannah Martin said it was clear from the footage that Mr Field’s reaction was “completely disproportionate and unacceptable”.
She told BBC Radio Four: “So what was clear is that she had leaflets in her hand, she was aiming to hand out copies of the speech, and peacefully make our presence felt.
“There were 350 other guests at that dinner. None of them felt the need to assault any of the other protesters in the way that Mark Filed did.”