Tory MP Mark Field suspended as minister over alleged assault on protester

Theresa May has removed the Asia minister from his post after footage emerged of him shoving a female climate protester.

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Mark Field, the Conservative MP accused of assaulting a young woman last night, has been suspended as a government minister.

Downing Street said Theresa May had taken the decision to temporarily relieve Field of his post as Asia Minister after viewing footage of him physically confronting a female Greenpeace protester at last night’s Mansion House dinner. "Theresa May has seen the footage and found it very concerning," a spokesperson said.

Field, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster, was filmed shoving the climate activist — part of a protest that disrupted a speech by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor — against a pillar, before grabbing her by the neck and forcibly leading her from his table.

He has since apologised and has referred himself to a Cabinet Office investigation into whether he breached the ministerial code, which could ultimately result in his permanent dismissal from government. 

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

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have nonetheless called for his sacking and Tory whips are investigating. Greenpeace, meanwhile, are understood to have made a formal allegation of assault to the Metropolitan Police.

Despite the controversy, several Conservative MPs, including Johnny Mercer and Michael Fabricant, have declared their support for Field, arguing that his response was proportionate. 

Jeremy Hunt, who Field has endorsed for the Tory leadership and works beneath at the Foreign Office, refused to condemn the incident on the campaign trail earlier today. "Mark has issued a full and unreserved apology," Hunt said. "He recognises that what happened was an overreaction. But what we need now, in his interest but also in the interest of the lady involved, is a proper independent inquiry by the Cabinet Office. That’s what’s going to happen."

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.