Sun, Jun 23, 2019 - Page 5 News List

UK official suspended for grappling with protester

‘HORRIFIC’:Junior Minister Mark Field said he acted due to security fears ‘to close down on the threat’ by grabbing a woman by her neck and dragging her away

Reuters, LONDON

A junior British foreign office minister has been suspended pending an investigation after grabbing a female demonstrator by the neck and pushing her when a climate-change protest interrupted a speech by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

Several women on Thursday evening prevented Hammond from speaking for a few minutes by using loudspeakers to shout slogans at an annual banquet in London’s Mansion House building.

Footage posted online by broadcaster ITV showed British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Mark Field grappling with one of the women and holding her by the back of her neck as he marched her out of the room.

He subsequently apologized, but a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that Field had been suspended from his responsibilities while an investigation takes place.

“The prime minister has seen the footage and she found it very concerning,” she added.

Field told ITV that his response was due to fears over security.

“In the current climate, I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present,” he said in a statement.

The main opposition Labour Party’s spokeswoman for women and equalities Dawn Butler said that Field should be immediately suspended or sacked.

“This is horrific,” she wrote on Twitter.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said it had organized the protest in the heart of the capital’s banking district, accusing the finance industry of funding climate change and the British Ministry of Finance of trying to water down government action to mitigate it.

“I don’t see any justification for the kind of violent behavior that we saw from him last night. It’s an extremely shocking and concerning state of affairs,” Greenpeace UK head of politics Rebecca Newsom said.

The City of London Corp said it was looking at its procedures.

“We are investigating last night’s breach of security at Mansion House and will be reviewing arrangements for future events,” it said.

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