Tory MP Mark Field apologises for grabbing Greenpeace protester by the neck as calls grow for his resignation

Tory MP Mark Field apologises for grabbing Greenpeace protester by the neck as calls grow for his resignation

CONSERVATIVE MP Mark Field has apologised for grabbing a climate change protester by the neck in an incident captured on camera at an event in London last night.

The UK's Foreign Office minister, 54, was filmed shoving the female activist into a pillar before grabbing the back of her neck and marching her out of Chancellor Philip Hammond's speech at Mansion House.

The woman was part of a Greenpeace UK protest that saw around 40 women dressed in red interrupt the black-tie event on Thursday evening.

Mr Field has referred himself to the Cabinet Office for investigation and apologised "unreservedly" to the protester, claiming he "acted instinctively" when he saw the woman and feared she may be armed.

In a statement, he said: "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.

"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.

"In view of the publicity around this incident I am referring myself to the Cabinet Office to examine whether there has been a breach of the ministerial code, and will of course co-operate fully with their investigation."

In its own statement, Greenpeace UK accused the politician of "assaulting peaceful women protesters".

Meanwhile, a spokesman for City of London Police said the force was "looking into" what it called "a small number of third party reports of an assault at the event."

Calls to resign

A number of MPs from each of the major UK parties have called for the resignation or suspension of Mr Field over the incident.

Labour MP Dawn Butler, who is shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, called for the minister to be "immediately suspended or sacked" on Twitter.

Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna described Mr Field's actions as "totally unacceptable", while independent MP Sarah Wollaston said it was "absolutely shameful, a male MP marching a woman out of a room by her neck".

And an unnamed female Conservative MP told Sky News: "The footage is extraordinary. I'm sure it was a split-second thing but I don't see how his career survives this."

However, Tory MP said Mr Field had done nothing wrong, adding: "The woman clearly was trying to create a fuss. Most viewers would say it's good that she didn't succeed.

"I think there's no reason to criticise Mark Field... of course it wasn't an assault, it was a reversal of direction."

Another male colleague said: "Mark deserves everyone's full support. The world has gone upside down when a protester invades a room and he's expected to apologise. The protester should be apologising to him."