British politician suspended after grabbing climate change protester by the neck

VIDEO: REUTERS
A video posted by ITV showed British Foreign Office Minister Mark Field appearing to push a protester against a wall and grab her by the neck and forcing her out of the hall.
A video posted by ITV showed British Foreign Office Minister Mark Field appearing to push a protester against a wall and grab her by the neck and forcing her out of the hall.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (WASHINGTON POST) - Mr Mark Field, a minister in Britain’s Foreign Office, was suspended on Friday (June 21) morning after he grabbed a Greenpeace activist by the neck at a fancy black tie dinner. 

A spokesman for Downing Street said that the British Prime Minister Theresa May had watched footage of the incident and “found it very concerning”.

In a video circulating online, Mr Field can be seen exploding out of his chair, grabbing the female protester by the neck and marching her out of the room. The protester is clutching leaflets and wearing a red dress with a sash that says “climate emergency”.

Mr Field apologised “unreservedly” and said that he “deeply” regretted what happened. He said that he acted instinctively and was worried that she could have been armed. 

But several lawmakers said that Mr Field’s reaction was disproportionate. 

Mr Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that it was “truly shocking” and that “violence against women is endemic in our society and this behaviour is unacceptable. He should consider his position.”

Ms Sarah Wollaston, an independent lawmaker, said: “Absolutely shameful, a male MP marching a woman out of a room by her neck.”

 

Some made comparisons to how other politicians respond to demonstrators.  

Ms Jess Phillips, a Labour lawmaker, said: “Very recently I faced hostile protesters, I was filmed you may recall, I didn’t grab anyone by the neck.” 

The incident occurred at a black tie event in the financial district in London where Mr Philip Hammond, the chancellor, was giving a speech.

Protesters from Greenpeace disrupted his speech for several minutes. When Hammond Mr continued, he said that the “irony” was that the British government was leading the world by legislating for a carbon neutral economy by 2050.  

Others came to Mr Field’s defence.  

Mr Peter Bottomley, a Conservative MP, told the BBC that Mr Field “did what any sensible person would have done to diffuse what could have been a tragic situation”. 

Mr Johnny Mercer, a Conservative lawmaker and former soldier, tweeted: “He panicked, he’s not trained in restraint and arrest, and if you think this is ‘serious violence’, you may need to recalibrate your sensitivities. Calm down, move on, and be thankful this wasn’t worse.” 

Greenpeace UK tweeted that “Instead of assaulting peaceful women protesters, @MarkFieldUK would be better off spending his time tackling the #ClimateEmergency.”