THERESA May has suspended a Tory minister who was filmed grabbing a rabbit-loving eco-protester by her neck last night, as police were called in.
The PM was shown footage of MP Mark Field forcibly ejecting the Greenpeace campaigner from the Mansion House dinner in Central London and said it was "very concerning".
Mrs May's spokesperson said today: "The PM has seen the footage and found it very concerning.
"The police have said they are looking into reports over this matter and Mark Field has referred himself to the cabinet office and Conservative party.
"He will be suspended as a minister while investigations take place."
No10 urged the venue to carry out a review of its security given the breach.
Ugly scenes broke out last night after about 40 Greenpeace protesters wearing red dresses stormed the annual banquet for bankers and politicians, where Philip Hammond gave the main speech.
Mr Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, leapt to his feet when Janet Barker 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.
The City of London Police confirmed it had received reports of an assault and are investigating, but no arrests have been made.
They said in a statement: "We were called at 21.03 on Thursday 20 June 2019 by security staff at Mansion House after a group of protesters had gained entry to an event being held on the premises and were refusing to leave.
There was no security present and I was for a split second genuinely worried she may have been armed
"Officers arrived and helped security staff escort the protesters out of the building. No arrests were made.
"We have received a small number of third party reports of an assault taking place at the event. These reports are being looked into by police."
The protester was later unveiled to be Ms Barker, who lives on a farm in Wales with her husband and runs a knitting business.
Ms Barker said today she wouldn't be speaking to the police but added: "Maybe he should go to anger management classes."
She told the BBC: "I'm not going to prosecute, I don't want it to end in a mud-slinging match.
"He certainly man-handled me in a way which was very disagreeable to myself, and most people.
"I certainly [did not expect] to be grabbed by the neck and grabbled [sic] out of the room."
Mr Field has apologised to the woman and referred himself for investigation to government bosses.
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."
Mr Field's boss Jeremy Hunt, in the final two to become Tory leader and Prime Minister, said today: "Mark has issued a full and unreserved apology. He recognises that what happened as an over reaction.
"But what we need now, in his interests but also in the interests of the lady involved, is a proper independent inquiry by the Cabinet Office, that's whats going to happen."
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."
Labour called on the Tories to sack the Foreign Office minister for Asia and the Pacific altogether, and remove him from the party.
And former Crown Prosecution Service chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal said the incident was an "assault".
Tory Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said this morning it was "hard for anybody to look at that and not be astonished at what they have seen".
He said the Conservatives would launch their own investigation into what happened to get to the bottom of it.
The incident comes in light of a series of milkshake attacks on politicians.
And it comes just over three years to the day since MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right madman in her own constituency.
The City of London Corporation said they would review their security in light of the event, after more than two dozen activists stormed the room.
A spokesperson said: "We are investigating last night’s breach of security at Mansion House and will be reviewing arrangements for future events."
“The protesters were swiftly escorted out of Mansion House by security and the City of London Police."
Shadow Women and Equalities minister Dawn Butler described last night's footage as "horrific".
And Labour’s Paul Sweeney MP called it “appalling, aggressive behaviour”.
Hannah Martin, a Greenpeace activist who was part of last night's protest, said Mr Field's actions were "completely disproportionate and unacceptable for a sitting Member of Parliament."
She added: "I am shocked that Peter thinks its acceptable for a man to violently shove a woman up against a marble pillar and then grab her by the neck while pushing her out."
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."
He said had a police officer had acted in the same way, then it would have been acceptable.
"Mark did what any sensible person would have done to diffuse what could have been a tragic situation," he told Radio 4.
"It's a potentially dangerous situation."
Two female Tories – Maria Caulfield and Vicky Ford said Mr Field would have been hailed as a hero if she had had a weapon on her at the time.
Ms Caufield said: "In this age where politicians have been murdered, jokes are made about throwing acid at us and we have all been threatening.
"No one knows what her motives were."
And Ms Ford added: "The protester was carrying a bag, rushing towards the Governor of the Bank of England and could have been armed. Where was security?"
Ex-minister Alistair Burt said the incident was "obviously disturbing".
But he added: "Mark has done the right thing, apologised to the woman concerned, he's made a statement, hes referred himself to the cabinet secretary."
REPORTED TO POLICE
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."
Who is Tory minister Mark Field?
MARK Field, 54, is the Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, and was elected in 2001.
In 2015 he was appointed to be the vice chairman of the party under David Cameron, and stayed in the role under Theresa May.
Since 2017 he's been a foreign office minister – with his brief including Asia and the Pacifics.
He has been married twice, with his ex-wife citing his affair with Liz Truss, who was then a councillor, in their divorce.
He is currently married to Victoria, and the pair have two children, Frederick and Arabella.
Mr Field campaigned to remain in the EU but later voted to trigger Article 50 and deliver Brexit.
He has a majority of 3,148 in his area, and before he went into politics worked as a lawyer.
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.
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.
"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."
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