British Foreign Office Minister under fire over manhandling female protestor
British Foreign Office Minister Mark Field has come under heavy criticism after a video emerged of him manhandling a female climate change protestor who was part of a group which gatecrashed a banquet in the city of London. The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, who is also the Member of Parliament for the Cities of London and Westminster, was filmed grabbing a protestor, pushing her up against a pillar, and escorting her from the room by the neck.
The incident took place at the Mansion House Dinner - one of the biggest social events of the year in Westminster, attended by the Chancellor, MPs, and bankers - on the evening of the 20th of June 2019. A group of Greenpeace protestors managed to get into the private event, disrupting Chancellor Philip Hammond’s speech. All in all, 40 protestors entered the event, wearing red outfits and sashes that read “climate emergency!” to raise awareness of the climate issue.
As one female protestor headed towards where the Chancellor had retaken his seat following the disruption, Mr Field shoved her against a nearby pillar and stood up from his chair and before grabbing her by the neck. He then kept ahold of her and marched her away as other guests sat by and watched with puzzled looks on their faces. Shortly after, the remainder of the protestors were also removed from the room and Mr Hammond was able to continue his speech.
The entire incident was captured by a television camera that was filming the whole event and it was very quickly raised online, with a lot of angry responses on twitter, particularly from female MPs. Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley tweeted that “she posed no credible threat from what I can see. There is very little else that could justify this and anyone can see that this could have been done without physical contact. Every MP has to deal with protest and conflict, it is done with words. To watch this is so so awful.”
Mr Field has been accused of misogyny, with his wikipedia page briefly edited to read “Mark Field is a misogynist and violent British Conservative Party politician.” Gender inequality remains a problem in the UK, whether it be through imbalances in the workforce, or violence perpetrated against women by men, with an estimated 4.3 million women aged 16-59 having experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 in the UK.
There have been calls for Mr Field to be sacked from his position as a Minister, and some talk about the potential for a by-election in his seat should he charged with and convicted of assault, with MPs who are imprisoned for a year or less liable to be recalled - effectively sacked - by their constituencies, and those sentenced for longer being automatically disqualified. Mr Field has been MP for the Cities of London and Westminster since 2001 and has a majority of over 3,000, so it is not impossible that he would lose a by-election.