LONDON: A UK minister has been accused of assaulting a Greenpeace activist during an event.
Greenpeace has accused Foreign Office minister Mark Field of assaulting a female activist at a black-tie City event.
However, Field said he reacted “instinctively” and has referred himself to the Cabinet Office for an investigation.
The minister also apologised to the woman for “grabbing her” – but said he was worried she may have been armed.
The Tory MP has been widely criticised, but some people defended his actions.
Thursday night’s incident – which was filmed – happened after climate change protesters disrupted the beginning of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s annual Mansion House speech to the City about the state of the UK economy.
Dozens of activists gatecrashed the dinner, according to Greenpeace, and refused to leave.
Video footage shows Field getting out of his seat and stopping one female protester by pushing her against a column and then marching her out of the room.
Greenpeace said that the response to a peaceful protest shocked it.
One of its climate campaigners, Areeba Hamid, said: “The protester in question was hoping to discuss climate change and the economic reforms we need with the financiers and bankers at the dinner.
“Mark Field is the MP for the City and represents many of those financiers and bankers. We hope they will show a greater willingness to listen and understand the necessity for urgent action than their representative.”
Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, Dawn Butler, was among those who criticised Mr Field, tweeting: “This is horrific… He must immediately be suspended or sacked.”
Fellow Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi added: “No one who reacts like this to a peaceful protest should be sitting in our Parliament.”