A TORY minister is facing calls to resign after he was filmed grabbing an eco-protester by her neck last night.
Footage shows Foreign Office minister Mark Field forcibly ejecting the Greenpeace campaigner from the Mansion House dinner in Central London.
11 Mr Field appears to strong-arm the activists as suited guests watch onCredit: ITV News
11 Field appears to have his hand around the woman’s neck as he’s seen forcefully ejecting her from the room
Ugly scenes broke out after about 40 Greenpeace protesters wearing red dresses stormed the annual banquet for bankers and politicians.
Mr Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, leapt to his feet when she walked past his chair at the black-tie dinner.
He then shoved her against a pillar, grabbed the back of her neck and marched her out of the room in shocking footage obtained by ITV News.
Defending his actions, Mr Field insisted he was responding to a “major security breach” – and feared the protesters may have been armed.
There was no security present and I was for a split second genuinely worried she may have been armedMark Field MP
He told ITV News: “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 stormed past me towards the top table I instinctively reacted.
“There was no security present and I was for a split second genuinely worried she may have been armed.”CALLS TO RESIGN
He added: “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 was a breach of the ministerial code, and will of course cooperate fully with their investigation.”
Members of the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats have called for the government to suspend or sack the Foreign Office minister for Asia and the Pacific.
11 Tory MP Mark Field is seen grabbing the protester from a seated position at the annual Mansion House dinnerCredit: ITV News
11 The Westminster and Cities of London MP was filmed grabbing the woman and pressing her against the pillarCredit: ITV News
11 Field appeared furious as he marched the protester out of the dining hallCredit: ITV News/Mark Field
Shadow Women and Equalities minister Dawn Butler described the footage as “horrific”.
And Labour’s Paul Sweeney MP called it “appalling, aggressive behaviour”.
But Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley insisted that Mr Field had done nothing wrong.
He said: “The woman clearly was trying to create a fuss.
“Most viewers would say it’s good that she didn’t succeed.”
When asked if Mr Field had been heavy-handed, Sir Peter responded: “No, he reversed her direction and she looked as though she went willingly.
“I think there’s no reason to criticise Mark Field… Of course it wasn’t an assault, it was a reversal of direction.”REPORTED TO POLICE
The City of London Police confirmed it had received reports of an assault.
No arrests have been made.
Protesters wore red evening dresses and sashes emblazoned with “climate emergency” in a bid to “drown out” the chancellor.
But after a short delay Mr Hammond continued his speech, saying: “The irony is that this is the Government that has just led the world by committing to a zero carbon economy by 2050.”
11 Chancellor Philip Hammond was interrupted just as he was about to begin speakingCredit: Reuters
11 Mark Field said he reacted forcefully because he feared the protesters may have been armedCredit: Rex
11 Greenpeace activists dressed in red stormed the annual bankers dinner at Mansion House to raise awareness about climate changeCredit: sky
11 Climate change protesters were escorted out after interrupting Philip Hammond’s speechCredit: Reuters
Mr Hammond began his speech to the 350 assembled guests shortly afterwards.
In the course of his address the Chancellor also challenged the two Tory leadership hopefuls to set out a Brexit “plan B”.
And he warned that a no-deal Brexit could damage the economy and risk the break-up of the United Kingdom.
His speech came just hours after everyone but Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were knocked out for the keys to No10.
The people in this room have been funding climate change, and we’re not giving the banks and hedge funds a pass for their unethical investment decisions anymore.Areeba Hamid, Greenpeace campaigner
Hunt pipped rival Michael Gove to second place by just two votes, amid claims Johnson had knifed the environment secretary in the back after their 2016 leadership scuffle.
Areeba Hamid, climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the disruption was vital to promoting more awareness among those present.
“This is a climate emergency,” she said. “Business as usual is no longer an option.
“The real bottom line, the priority that needs to come before all others, is not profit, revenue or growth, but survival.
“That needs to be recognised in every boardroom and on every balance sheet, starting with the Chancellor’s.
“The people in this room have been funding climate change, and we’re not giving the banks and hedge funds a pass for their unethical investment decisions anymore.
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“The Treasury is the Government’s banker. It plays the same role propping up vested interests and blocking progress on climate change.
“But science demands a radical programme of policy interventions and public investment if our economy is to survive the coming storm.
“The serious, sensible, grey-suited grown-ups in the room ignored the warning signs and crashed the economy in 2008.
“We can’t afford to let them crash the climate too.”
11 A row of City bankers were seen holding back the protestersCredit: PA:Press Association
11 Activists wearing sashes and bearing slogans are escorted out of the buildingCredit: Reuters
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