Mark Field: Sir Peter Bottomley defends suspended MP for grabbing Greenpeace activist by the neck

Peter Bottomley MP has defended his colleague
Peter Bottomley MP has defended his colleague

Worthing MP Sir Peter Bottomley has defended one of his colleagues who has been suspended for grabbing a Greenpeace activist by the neck.

On this morning's Today Programme on Radio 4, the 74-year-old MP for Worthing West spoke out in support for Mark Field, who has been suspended as a Foreign Office minister following the incident at Chancellor Philip Hammond's annual Mansion House speech in the City of London about the state of the UK economy last night, according to the BBC.

Television cameras filmed him grabbing a female climate change protester who was walking towards Mr Hammond and marching her out of the room.

His actions were widely condemned by MPs, with Labour calling for him to be sacked. Mr Field himself has apologised to the activist and referred himself to the Cabinet Office for a potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

According to the BBC, he has now been suspended as a Foreign Office minister pending an investigation and police are investigating the incident.

On the Today Programme, Sir Peter defended the Foreign Office minister's actions. He told the BBC: "Mark Field did what any sensible person would have done to diffuse what could have been a tragic situation."

He said that since also appearing on BBC breakfast television on the same matter earlier that morning, he had 'got more emails than I ever have done for any interview in my 40-odd years in Parliament'.

He claimed that had Mr Hammond's personal protection officer 'blocked the woman's progress, reversed her and taken her out of the room, he would have been doing the right thing', adding that you could not tell if it was a peaceful protest until it was too late, citing the murder of MP Robert Bradford.

He added that the person could be hiding a 'collapsible truncheon'.

"I would have done it and I think that most other diners there would have done the same," he said.

But Greenpeace climate campaigner Areeba Hamid, a fellow guest on the show, said she was 'actually quite shocked' to her Sir Peter's view, considering Mr Field's remorse after the event.

She said: "I am quite shocked that Peter Bottomley thinks it is acceptable for a man to violently shove a woman up against a marble pillar and then grab her by the neck whilst pushing her out."

She went on to say: "What is important here is really the act of peaceful protest; this is the key tenant of any functioning democracy."

In complimentary emails sent to Sir Peter and seen by the Herald, one writer said his views reflected 'proper sense and what 99.9% of ordinary law abiding people want to see'.

Sir Peter told them that he 'gently intervened' by appearing on television 'because I am a great support of the role of the media and of the BBC in particular' and 'there are times when the media, not particularly the BBC, take a way of reporting an event that needs balance or adjustment'.

On Twitter, the response was not so positive. @Ryanfitzpics said: "How are the #Conservative party defending this, #Peterbottomley should be ashamed", and @SkintLondon added: "THE HYPOCRISY. If this assault happened on a Friday night in Wetherspoons, the men now defending it would be the very same men calling the perpetrator an oik and demanding they be arrested. #MarkField #PeterBottomley"

Sir Peter has been approached for further comment.

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