Greenpeace condemns MP for manhandling climate activist during peaceful protest

Video footage from a black-tie dinner shows Foreign Office minister Mark Field grabbing a female climate activist by the neck and forcibly removing her from the room

Greenpeace protester Janet Barker (Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire/PA Images)
Greenpeace protester Janet Barker (Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire/PA Images)

Greenpeace UK has condemned the Foreign Office minister Mark Field after he was filmed seizing a female protester by the neck and forcing her out of a black-tie dinner last night.

Janet Barker was part of a group of 40 Greenpeace activists who were ejected from Mansion House last night after attempting to disrupt a speech by the Chancellor Philip Hammond, by drowning out his talk with a speech calling for greater government investment and leadership to tackle the climate emergency.

Video footage shows Field, who has since been suspended from his role as a minister, forcefully grab Barker by the neck and manhandle her from the room.

Areeba Hamid, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK who attended the protest last night, said in a statement protesters had been "shocked" by the behaviour.

"We were shocked at the footage of an elected MP and government minister assaulting one of our peaceful protestors at the Mansion House tonight," she 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 Cities of London and Westminster 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." 

Greenpeace has denounced Field's behaviour as "totally unacceptable" on social media.

In a video, Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace, called on people to respect the right of activists to peacefully protest.

"Last night 40 of our activists interrupted the Chancellor’s speech at the Mansion House because they had an important message to send on the climate emergency and the importance of government investing more in a clean future," she said, before condemning the "disturbing" response from Field.

"This kind of aggressive action is completely unacceptable, particularly from someone in public office," she said.

Field referred himself to the Cabinet Office for investigation on Friday morning, saying in a statement that he had reacted "instinctively" to the protester.

He added: "I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her, but in the current climate I felt I needed to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present."

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister described the footage as "very concerning".

She said: "The police have said they are looking into reports on this matter, and Mark Field has also referred himself to both the Cabinet Office and the Conservative Party. He will be suspended as a minister while investigations take place."

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