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12406/21/2019 11:36
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Minister suspended after grabbing activist
Minister suspended after grabbing activist

Mark Field has been suspended as a Foreign Office minister after grabbing a female Greenpeace activist at a black-tie City dinner.

Mr Field has said he regrets confronting Janet Barker and marching her away as protesters interrupted a speech by the chancellor.

He said he had been "genuinely worried" she may have been armed.

Ms Barker said she would not make a complaint to police but the MP "should go to anger management classes".

Footage of the incident has been widely shared on social media, with several Labour politicians calling for Mr Field to be sacked.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The prime minister has seen the footage and she found it very concerning.

"The police have said they are looking into reports over this matter and Mark Field has also referred himself to both the Cabinet Office and the Conservative Party.

"He will be suspended as a minister while investigations take place."

On Thursday evening climate change protesters disrupted the beginning of Chancellor Philip Hammond's annual Mansion House speech about the state of the UK economy.

'Felt threatened'

Activists - dressed in suits, red dresses and sashes with "climate emergency" written on them - entered the room. Greenpeace said they wanted to deliver a speech on the failure of the current system.

Footage shows Mr Field getting up and pushing a woman protester against a column, before leading her out of the room.

He later told ITV News that guests had "understandably felt threatened" and he had "instinctively reacted" when the protester rushed past.

"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."

He added: "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."

But his actions attracted widespread condemnation on social media.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis had said it was "very hard to defend" the footage and pledged an investigation.

Ms Barker had travelled from her home in Wales to take part in Thursday's protest. She told the BBC: "350 people were there and only one person reacted that way.

"It's more the behaviour of that individual. I want him to reflect on what he did and not do it again. Maybe he should go to anger management classes."

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