Tories urged to sack minister Mark Field for shoving climate protester

Mark Field, the Asia Minister, was filmed physically confronting a Greenpeace activist at tonight's Mansion House dinner.

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A senior Tory minister is facing calls to resign after footage emerged of him physically confronting a female climate protester at a black tie banquet.

Mark Field, the Asia Minister, was filmed shoving a young woman against a pillar at last night's Mansion House dinner. 

The video then appears to show the MP for Cities of London and Westminster pushing the Greenpeace activist - part of a protest that disrupted a speech by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor - away from his table by the neck. 

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already called for Field to be dismissed from his ministerial role over the incident.

Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities minister, described the footage as "horrific". She tweeted: "He must be immediately suspended or sacked."

Meanwhile Ed Davey, the former cabinet minister and Lib Dem leadership candidate, said Field was unfit for office. He wrote on Twitter: "The sight of some penguin-suited Tory minister behaving in a violent way towards a female Greenpeace activist absolutely stinks. Shame on you."

Government whips were understood to be investigating the clash last night. Field, who won a slim majority of 3,148 over Labour at the 2017 general election, has apologised and referred himself to a Cabinet Office investigation into whether he broke the ministerial code. 

In a statement to ITV, Field claimed he had "instinctively" reacted when the young woman walked behind him, and claimed to have believed she might have been carrying a weapon.

"A major security breach ocurred at the dinner I attended last night when a 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," he said. "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 cooperate fully with their investigation."

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.