A minister, Mark Field, has come under fire by a large number of people after he pushed a woman activist against a pillar at a banquet, then frogmarched her out by her neck. Tory chiefs have received a number of complaints about the incident and have called for the sacking of Mark Field.
Backlash from the Incident
There has been considerable backlash following the occurrence at the banquet. Prime Minister, Theresa May, has described the footage of Mark Field grabbing the Greenpeace campaigner as very concerning, saying that the actions were extremely shocking. Another prominent political figure, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, added that Field should be considering his position as violence is endemic in this society and the act that ensued at the gathering was simply unacceptable.
Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow police minister, said that the video shows what appears to be assault. Adding that such naked aggression sends a chilling message about what is acceptable and what isn’t. TV presenter Piers Morgan scolded Field saying that women shouldn’t be manhandled like this. The Greenpeace activist, Janet Barker, has Response saying that Mark Field was way out of line and that she never expected to be grabbed in such a way.
While there have been a significant number of complaints, Tory MP and ex-Army officer, Johnny Mercer, has defended Field saying that he simply panicked and isn’t trained in restraint so he handled her the best he could. He goes on to say that if anyone is calling this serious violence against women, then they need recalibrate their sensitivities. Clearly Mercer doesn’t think this is such a big deal.
Given the nature of the incident, an investigation is under way and Field has been suspended pending the results of this. Janet Barker, 38, who lives on a farm in Wales with dozens of rabbits, said she had not reported him to police but he should consider “anger-management” lessons. She has defended her actions by saying that she was simply walking past his chair, peacefully and his reaction was over the top.
The video footage from Thursday night’s black-tie event shows Field leaping up from his seat as Ms Barker walks past. He then proceeds to shove her and grabs the back of her neck as he marches her out to the security team. Ms Barker was just one of 40 Greenpeace activists in red dresses who stormed into central London’s Mansion House to protest about climate change.
Having evaded security to enter the dining hall filled with 350 guests while Chancellor Phillip Hammond was speaking, the protesters weren’t actually authorised to be in the building, let alone the room at the time of the incident. Mr Field, who is the Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, has responded by saying that he feared Ms Barker was armed and perhaps even dangerous. Given the increased violence the world, and especially London, has suffered over recent years, Field said he only acted upon his instincts. He later apologised to Barker saying that he deeply regretted the episode.
While Field did man handle Barker, she had no right to be there and had no authorisation. It wasn’t a public event and the security was there for a reason. The fact that she had to evade them just to get it shows that she was technically trespassing. So, who was right?